WINONA LAKE — It was a morning of inspiration, humor, music and even a little bit of imitation at the Kosciusko Community YMCA Community Good Friday Breakfast, which will become an annual event. Over 275 people gathered at Christ’s Covenant Church this morning, March 25, for fellowship and to hear Hunter Smith, a Notre Dame football player and graduate, a 12-year NFL veteran, Super Bowl Champion, storyteller, author, musician and Christian.
Sharing three self-written songs, experiences in the NFL, a little bit of a sermon, Smith added humor with imitations of Lou Holtz and Payton Manning. He even answered a handful of questions at the end of his keynote address and passed around his Super Bowl ring from 2006.
What Smith wanted those in attendance to remember were two words: Importance and valuable. He noted when something is important it means it serves a purpose and has a consequence. Valuable is a price has been paid to make it valuable. He may have shocked many in attendance when he noted people are not important to God, but went on to explain. He stated God doesn’t need people’s efforts, time, money, beauty and talent. That’s not important. “People are valuable to God,” he said.
Smith’s address focused on the Easter season, how God gave his son, the ultimate sacrifice. “Once you understand your value, you’re free to come in to the family … Once you understand your own value and the price that was paid on Good Friday.” He added, what good is a man if he gives to the world, but forfeits his soul.
In the athletic area, Smith touched on his book The Jersey Effect. “I’ve watched people come and go from the NFL, I’ve watched their lives and the tragedy of their lives. You see the culmination of it.” He referenced many know nothing else but the sport, after retirement, they have no purpose. “Man was created for a purpose.” He said NFL players are six to eight times more likely to commit suicide after signing an NFL contract.
For him, after his retirement, he asked God what he should do. His answer was to use his ability to write songs, play a guitar and be a public speaker. This is when he started the Hunter Smith Band. Their first concert was in front of 15 people. This summer they will be opening for Blake Shelton.
During the question period, he was asked about Lou Holtz, what Payton Manning was really like, why kickers never kick out of bounds, his most embarrassing moment as a kicker and what he would tell those in the locker room. Some of his responses were humorous, such as imitating what Lou Holtz would have the team do and what he would say to the team before game day and imitating a response from Payton Manning.
He pointed out the country is not releasing well rounded athletes, which is harmful. That today athletes are out of balance. “Every sport ends,” he said. “People don’t have anything else to pursue.” He stressed the importance of having cultured athletes who are well read, in the arts, in music. “You can’t have a kid good in just athletes,” he noted … do not have tunnel vision. Pursue other interests.”
Smith, his wife and four children, resides in Zionsville, in the southeast area of Boone County.
During the social time, which included breakfast, information about the Kosciusko County YMCA was displayed for the audience and a Good Friday video was shown following by brief remarks by Chad Zaucha, chief executive officer of the Y.