On any given Saturday in the fall, you’ll find Noah Grover and Brayden Long on the football field, or maybe even Kate Lachendro and Lauren Crytzer on the volleyball court. But if you’re looking for them on Sunday evenings, it’s very likely that you’ll find them with a group of people in Morrow Field House discussing their faith.
That group, known as TEAM Rock, is a new organization on campus that was founded with the help of Game Changer Sports Ministry. The group has grown quickly since it was introduced at the start of the spring semester.
One of the biggest reasons the group was brought to Slippery Rock was because of the help and dedication Grover had to getting it established. When you see him on campus, you’re sure to see him with a big smile, and it’s not hard to see how excited he is about this group.
“With me transferring here, I always knew in my heart that I wanted to start a ministry here or some sort of study with the team, because I know in North Dakota that’s what was invested in me, like we had a FCA [Fellowship of Christian Athletes] and the pastor out there really invested a lot into me,” Grover said.
Grover was really an unknown coming to Slippery Rock. Coming in after Roland Rivers III, many wondered what he would do on the field, but Grover was always just as worried about what he could do off of it. It’s something coach Shawn Lutz has encouraged. To both, leadership isn’t just about your play on the field, but rather about how you help people further themselves.
Grover’s goal started off small. First, he wanted to get something set up within his own team. During the fall, that process really took off for him. He had a large amount of his teammates showing up for his studies, and in the long run it helped him set up TEAM Rock.
“When I first got here, we started small studies with the team, we had 20 or 30 guys at these studies at the end of it,” Grover said. “It helped me a lot, we really got into the depth of who each other were and why we did what we did.”
Grover knew that if he wanted to expand this, he was going to need help, however. Lucky for him, this sort of thing had already taken off with the volleyball team. Lachendro and Crytzer had started to do something similar with their team, and when Grover got word of it, the idea of TEAM Rock started to form with the help of them and the Game Changer Sports Ministry.
“Lauren Crytzer and Kate Lachendro were doing the same thing within the volleyball team and they were trying to get that up as well, so we kind of talked to them and we had our little group of us and Brayden Long,” Grover said. “We ended up being the ‘captains’ of TEAM Rock.”
The idea for TEAM Rock had been brewing for a little bit. Marty Martinosky had reached out to former Rock linebacker, Tim Vernick, who was able to pass the idea along to Grover. Grover and Martinosky then officially formed TEAM Rock.
Since starting, the group has been meeting every Sunday evening in Morrow Field House and they’ve experienced good turnouts, which have been increasing week by week. While the group was founded to help athletes bond together, Grover wants everyone to know that it’s not only for athletes and they’ve had people who aren’t athletes on campus come to the meetings.
“I think that’s the coolest part, that our meetings are almost every team on campus, and we have people from the intramural team and Kyle [Hoeler] from sports broadcasting and even people that aren’t even from this school come to meetings,” Grover said. “It’s just showing how impactful the potential for TEAM Rock can really be and there’s a lot of seeking hearts out there.”
The meetings have helped bring people together, and if you go to games, you just might catch some of the attendees of these meetings there rooting for other athletes who have been going. It’s something Grover himself didn’t even consider, but the group has helped bring support to almost every team on campus. Grover attributes that to the connections that they’ve been able to make in the past few months.
“I didn’t even really think of that on the support basis, but I definitely have seen it because this was a bunch of individuals that hadn’t met each other, but they’ve really grown and developed with each other,” Grover said. “It gives you a sense of ‘Oh I want go support this person and their event.’”
The TEAM in the name is an acronym that stands for Teamwork, Excellence, Authority and Maturity. These are the key principles that the group is driven off of.
Those principles have been pushed even further by the speakers that the group has welcomed this semester. The organization has also welcomed team chaplains for the Pittsburgh Steelers and also SRU football player, Eddie Faulkner IV’s father, Eddie Faulkner, to speak to the group. For Grover, it’s been a humbling experience to have the opportunity to have them come talk to them.
“That’s connections that we’ve been blessed with, but just to be able to have them come to TEAM Rock and see them taken down from a pedestal that they’ve been put on by being associated with an NFL [National Football League] program, and say ‘Hey, I’m human,’” Grover said.
In the future, there are many plans for TEAM Rock, but the biggest of which is going out and doing things within the community. This semester served as the establishing time for the group, and Grover wants to make sure that they don’t stay comfortable just doing what they have been.
Overall, the emergence of the organization has meant a lot to Grover and the others who have gone to it. The goal is to create connections and, in such a short time, that’s something they’ve been able to do.
“These meetings are big to help support everyone who wants to come, and they’re big for me because I get to learn about these different people and these new perspectives,” Grover said. “I get to learn about the love they have for life and the love they have for God, and that’s just empowering for me.”
So, if you’re feeling up to it, the meetings aren’t hard to find. If you hear Grover talk about it, you’ll hear the same phrase, “Come get a blessing.”