Upward Sports Invests in NGU Sport Ministry Degree

North Greenville University recently received a $25,000 gift from Spartanburg-based Upward Sports. The funds will be used for scholarships and administrative costs in training and educating students in NGU's Sport Ministry program in the Department of Sport Management.

Gregg Wisecarver, Vice President of Upward University, and Dr. Cheney Robinson, Leadership Development Associate, presented a check to NGU President, Dr. Jimmy Epting on Wednesday, August 28.

Upward Sports began as a ministry out of Spartanburg First Baptist Church by Caz McCaslin in 1986 and is today the world’s largest Christian sports league for youth athletics.

According to the Upward Sports website, the organization provides the only youth sports program with a uniquely-designed total sports experience that adapts and expands as players develop and grow in their personal athletic journey. This program, called 360 Progression, offers multi-sport comprehensive training and instruction that increases in intensity as each athlete improves, enriching their physical, emotional, social, and spiritual growth.

Today, approximately one half million players participate in Upward recreation clinics, camps, and leagues in 47 U.S. states and 72 countries, hosted by over 2,800 church partners.

North Greenville University’s Department of Sport Management has two distinct degree programs and three unique options a student may select. Depending upon career objectives in the Sport Profession, the student may select one of the following bachelor of science degree options: a degree with business emphasis, designed for students who desire to become managers, administrators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in the Sport Profession; a degree with ministry emphasis, designed for students who desire to work in ministry-related settings including the church or foreign mission field using sport, recreation, and leisure as a platform and tool to reach people for the Lord; and a degree with coaching certification for students who desire to become a sport coach or coaching administrator in the Sport Profession.

 “It is so exciting to be on the threshold of this unique degree program,” said Dr. Ralph Johnson, Dean of the College of Business & Sport Professions. “We are the first University in the United States to combine sport and ministry into four-year academic degree. North Greenville University will be a pioneer to model this curriculum for other universities in America and the world.”

This unique degree program is the culmination of the combined efforts of the Sport Management Department under the guidance of Dr. Jeff Briggs and the Christian Studies Department under the direction of Dr. Walter Johnson, Dean of Christian Studies. The Sport Ministry degree program will allow North Greenville to send students onto the mission field, into churches in America and the world using sport to evangelize for Jesus Christ.

Several NGU Sport Management students have already benefited from the relationship with Upward Sports who have provided opportunities for on-site internships. Future students will benefit through scholarship awards and a course titled, Upward Sport Ministry Programming, which will be taught by Dr. Robinson.

“We feel called to give back and to raise up the next generation of leaders in sport ministry. We feel that North Greenville University is perfectly equipped to further this ambition,” said Gregg Wisecarver. “We look forward to locking arms with NGU through scholarships, internships, sport mission trips or however else the Lord leads. This is the first phase of a long partnership.”   

North Greenville University President, Dr. Jimmy Epting, agreed.

“Upward Sports and North Greenville University are a perfect match. Our missions are the same. We both want lives to be changed through a relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Epting.