Tim Tebow, Harlem Globetrotters and Marv Wilson Shine at “An Evening of All-Stars”
Tim Tebow and the Harlem Globetrotters brought the energy and entertainment to a sold-out event at Gordon College last night. The 6th annual Celebration of Faithful Leadership—“An Evening of All-Stars”—celebrated athletes of Gordon’s past and present, and honored longtime Gordon professor and former college athlete Dr. Marv Wilson.
Celebrating a Legend
The festivities kicked off with a formal dinner and the dedication of Tupper Hall (formerly Easton Hall) to longtime Gordon supporter Sherry Tupper, whose generous donations made possible its recent renovation.
Dr. Marv Wilson, Harold John Ockenga Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, was awarded the George F. Bennett Leadership Award for what President Michael Lindsay called “a lifetime of obedience.” For 54 years, Dr. Wilson has taught at Barrington and Gordon. His colleague Dr. Roger Green, professor emeritus of biblical and theological studies, named him “the most significant teacher” for his impact on more than 11,000 students as well as his scholarship and personal work in reconciling Jewish and Christian communities.
Pumping up the Crowd
Meanwhile in the Bennett Athletic Center, Gordon student-athletes engaged members of the Gordon and local communities with games and giveaways. The illuminated basketball court buzzed with Fighting Scots pride as dinner attendees joined the crowd for a special performance by the Harlem Globetrotters. Their trick shots, witty banter and exuberance had the sold-out audience cheering, laughing and gasping.
True to their reputation, two of these “Ambassadors of Goodwill,” Scooter and Bull, traveled with Gordon student-athletes the previous day to do a service project at Cradles to Crayons in Boston, an organization that benefits children in need.
“It was an awesome thing because it goes to show that people are not always so selfish nowadays,” says Bull of the Gordon athletes. “To be around that energy feels close to home because as a Harlem Globetrotter, we always bring that positive energy. To see athletes who are up-and-coming give that energy back is amazing.”
Following the hoops, stunts and feathers of their performance, the Globetrotters ushered in the All-Star Walk of Honor, featuring some of Gordon’s most revered athlete-leaders: Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Murphy, Men’s Soccer Coach Matt Horth ’11, former Women’s Soccer Coach Marc Whitehouse, Trustee Carrie Tibbles ’93, Chair of the Board of Trustees Herman Smith ’70, Aquatics Director Skip Milne, Professor of Social Work Sybil Coleman ’64, former Women’s Tennis player Erin Ovalle ’05, former Trustee Gordon Hall (in absentia) and, waving a towel around his head to thunderous cheers and a standing ovation, the man of the evening: Dr. Wilson.
More Than a Game
The focus shifted to the rising generation of leaders as Women’s Basketball forward Jenna Olson ’18 shared the lessons she’s learned on the court. “Even in rivalry, sports brought us together,” she said. “Sports are such a gift because they teach us how to grow in community . . . I believe in the power of sports to bring people together and draw them closer to God.”
An eager crowd began chanting “Tebow!” from the bleachers as the former NFL player and professional baseball player took the stage, echoing Olson’s message about sports being more than a game.
Tebow’s love for sports (and his competitive spirit) began at a very young age, he said. But it was a mission trip to the Philippines when he was 15 that led him to realize how his talent could be used for a greater good.
He encountered a physically disabled boy, Sherwin, believed by his village to be cursed. Though the community had shamed Sherwin and kept him at a distance, Tebow embraced him and shared the gospel. “I don’t know if I’ll see you again,” Tebow told the boy, “but I can’t wait to see you in heaven.” Sherwin replied, “I can’t wait to run with you in heaven.”
“It’s not about championships or awards,” Tebow said, though he has received his fair share. “It’s about people . . . sports is a platform to talk about things that are important”—a lesson he began to learn early on in his career.
As a quarterback for the University of Florida, he began writing Bible verses in eye black. On January 8, 2009, he chose John 3:16 for the college football championship. During that game, 94 million people Googled the verse. “How big is the God we serve!” he said.
Exactly three years later, during his first NFL playoff game for the Denver Broncos, with John 3:16 once again on his face, Tebow threw for 316 yards. His yards per rush and yards per completion were both 3.16. Both the game ratings and time of possession were 31.6. It was dubbed the “3:16 Game” and became the number one trending term at the time.
“You were created on purpose, for a plan, to do amazing things,” he encouraged his audience. It’s not always going to be easy, he added, but “it’s always going to be worth it.”
Thanks to the generosity of guests and sponsors, the event raised nearly $1 million for student scholarships.