Athletes in action

The goalie for DePaul’s women’s soccer team quietly prays to God before each game, for a sense of calm and faith. Megan Pyrz, 20, is now working to start Athletes in Action, a Christian ministry for student athletes, to help others live out their faith.

Already involved with the DePaul chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ, also known as Cru, part of a nationwide evangelical organization for college students, Pyrz is looking to fill a void. There is currently no organization specifically for Christian athletes at DePaul, and Athletes in Action (AIA) is one of Cru’s ministries.

Pyrz is passionate about starting the new organization because she credits her faith to both her athletic and academic successes.

“My faith helps me center myself, it is easy to get caught up in all the emotions before the game,” said Pyrz. “It helps me keep my sanity. A few years ago, I used to view faith, school, soccer and other parts of my life separately, but I realized I can integrate my faith into everything– it helps give a purpose to everything I do.”

The biology major was raised Roman Catholic but maintains she is a non-denominational Christian, although those of other traditions would be welcome in a future AIA.

Pyrz first heard of AIA from athletes at Northwestern University. Pyrz has been working with student leaders from Northwestern’s AIA, since they too are trying to branch out.

“They are pouring into me and telling me what to do next. Our long-term concrete goal is to be a sanctioned organization at DePaul,” said Pryz. Because DePaul has yet to approve AIA, it is difficult to make use of school resources and “get the word out.” Loyola and Dominican University also have similar programs.

“Sports is a universal language with the powerful ability to shape a culture, heal a nation, break down political, racial and economic barriers and restore national pride,” the AIA website states. Started in 1966, the AIA now boasts more than 650 staff members and 7,500 volunteers in almost 100 countries, working to build “spiritual movements everywhere through the platform of sport so that everyone knows someone who truly follows Jesus.”

Men’s soccer player Thiago Ganancio, 20, has also been working to start AIA.

“It’s been a struggle,” said Ganancio, a marketing major, noting the slow process of getting a new organization approved. “We know it takes time – we talked with the athletic directors and are waiting.” Ganancio, who also describes himself as a non-denominational Christian, has started inviting teammates to private Bible studies.

“Faith has always been a part of my life,” said Ganancio, who lived in Brazil until he was 12. “Once I came to the U.S. I really found the importance of it, since I didn’t have any friends and was learning a new language. Faith gave me strength.”