Riordan McClain to play with Athletes in Action
Faith takes Bluffton student to Europe and broader horizons
By Rustin Pickett, sports information assistant
June 9, 2005
Bluffton shortstop Riordan McClain, a junior from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, approaches the plate with the mind set of sending the next pitch into a different time zone as he will be spending the next two months in Europe playing baseball and doing missions work. McClain was recently selected to participate on an Athletes in Action (AIA) baseball team and will get the chance to turn a double play on a completely different continent.
AIA is a sub category of Campus Crusade with the organizations main purpose to spread the word of Christ out into the world through numerous collegiate sports. AIA was founded in 1966 by David Hannah, who loved the world of sports and wanted to use collegiate players, such as McClain, to reach out to college athletes and coaches from around the globe. McClain will help the organization team up with different countries for competition on the playing field and then express the word of Jesus Christ.
Baseball is one of the largest sports AIA has to offer. McClain was selected to be one of 20 players to make the Europe squad and one of the 100 players to be introduced into the organization. Other baseball squads include Texas, New York, Alaska and Latin America.
McClain, who will be a senior at Bluffton in the fall of 2005, was presented with a chance of a lifetime to play overseas. Not only will he be playing the sport he has loved since his tee ball days, but he will get the chance to talk to others about his faith. Going into his third college season McClain knew that he would be playing summer ball but never thought to be traveling abroad.
"I felt led to go on a mission trip sometime in my life and the opportunity came," McClain said. "I'm looking to grow spiritually closer to God and become a better baseball player." The mission work will bring him closer to God and his competition, which consists of national teams from Russia and France, who will help take his baseball skills to the next level.
He was referred by Bluffton University baseball head coach James Grandey who also had the chance to play with AIA when he was in college. "It is an unforgettable, lifetime experience," Grandey said. "Baseball overseas is very competitive and the ministry is most important part of the trip."
Once McClain filled out the application and was appointed to the Europe team all other plans for the summer had to be put on hold. The process is not just a one week affair, but a two month spiritual journey.
"When the opportunity came along we were excited because we were familiar with AIA and their goals, but wanted to pray as a family for direction from God," Jeff McClain, Riordan's father, said. "As it became clearer that he was to go, the excitement built more and more for the chance for Riordan to share his faith and expand his walk with God."
McClain's first objective will be two weeks of training in Atlanta, Georgia. While in training he will get a better feel for his teammates and will be able to mold his baseball skills to perfection for the tour. After about four or five games in Georgia the team will take off for their destination in France. The next six weeks will be evenly divided up between three other countries which include Prague, Czech Republic and Germany.
After two months of baseball and missions work. McClain will return home on July 24, not only as a stronger baseball player, but with a closer walk with God.