For God and Basketball
FOR GOD AND BASKETBALL
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 6:00 am | Updated: 7:22 am, Sun Apr 7, 2013.
Photos and text by JOE RONDONE • HP Staff | 0 comments
The final shots didn’t drop. The frenzied comeback had fallen short of victory. But this hadn’t seemed to dampen the spirits of the home crowd watching the Lake Michigan Admirals, who had just lost to the visiting Kankakee Soldiers. They were just happy to see the show. Winning the basketball game wasn’t the most important thing that day – a feeling the Admirals’ leading scorer, Scotty “Pastor” Samarco, is familiar with.
"I realized I wasn't practicing my spiritual exercises, I wasn't reading the Bible every day," Samarco said. "What I realized was if you put God first and practice your spiritual exercises, it's profitable for all things."
What started as a nickname on the court has blossomed into an full-fledged pursuit of the title. "Pastor" Samarco was the moniker given by Lake Michigan Admirals owner and public announcer, Chris Glisson. He had overheard Samarco talking to his teammates about his religion, seen his posts on Facebook and noticed he often seemed to be delivering a sermon in the locker room.
"He was always talking about God, always had his Bible open, always talking about devotion and sharing his with other players," Glisson said.
So every play on the court, every basket made, led to a loud "Pastor Samarco!" from the public announcement system. The name stuck.
Through working with an after-school program affiliated with the Admirals, Samarco was introduced to Brian Bennett, pastor at Overflow Church in Benton Harbor. During their first meeting, Bennett decided to offer Samarco an internship with the church. Samarco called it a divine moment.
"I sat down and told him my testament," Samarco said. "I felt God was calling me to ministry. It's bigger than basketball."
Although his playing days may be numbered, he certainly isn't finished with basketball.
For now Samarco juggles both worlds, though he is able to find crossroads where basketball and religion intersect.
"Basketball allowed me to learn leadership," Samarco said. "Now that's transitioning into ministry leadership."
For a multimedia video about Scotty Samarco, click on video at left or visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiuomTVTCxY&list=UUDvYcliOUk44q_5I7yFfn3A