Good sports: Young adults build faith, community through athletics

Good sports: Young adults build faith, community through athletics

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Members of Catholic Young Adult Sports of San Diego pose for a group photo while hiking to Three Sisters Falls in Cleveland National Forest in 2014. (CNS photo/courtesy Thom Hiatt, Faith in Marketing)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) — A ministry focusing on the excitement and friendship that can come from athletic competition is bringing young people together in faith. Catholic Young Adult Sports has emerged in the Diocese of San Diego over the past two years and the program’s founder and president, Paul Spotts, said CYAS has taken a page from the playbook of the early church, which often would “baptize” the idols of its day and use them to lead people to Christ. In a culture where sports is “the biggest idol,” Spotts said the ministry has served as both an effective means of building community among young adult Catholics and as a non-intimidating approach to the new evangelization. Nathan Poe, who serves as director of programs for Southern California, brought CYAS to San Diego. Locally, the program organizes leagues and pickup games throughout the year. There’s Ultimate Frisbee in the spring, volleyball in the summer and kickball in the fall. And there is hiking and other recreational and social events that are not explicitly spiritual. “Sometimes, we get into this sort of ‘all Catholic, all the time’ mode, and we need time to let loose,” Poe said.