In 1996, there was a significant moment that took place in my life. I came back from playing football during an off season in the CFL (Canadian Football League) and found myself in a miserable place. Even though the outside didn’t seem like a homeless person that had no money for food, transportation or even a place to live; the inside felt that way and much more. I had little if no peace and I needed to make a change. Living on “Gary’s path” just didn’t fulfill me long term and I was tired of the results which brought less and less of a high.
After many years of making bad choices and thinking about myself & my sport, I fell into a rock bottom place. Though I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus when I was a younger boy doesn’t always mean we always stay consistent with our walk with the Lord. It was more like a slow fade with the sin in my life and it began to take over and multiply. Starting at the end of my Senior year in high-school and continuing for another 9 years, my life became more and more about pleasing myself. I wasn’t sure what I could do to find another temporary high in life and so I realized that I needed to make changes.
A small miracle took place that got me to attend a Christian event in Cincinnati where my friend Dave invited me to go to, but I’ll just leave that out for now. Nevertheless, I attended and had no idea of the change I would soon be making that has actually encouraged me to do what I’m doing today with Check Your Game.
I showed up at the old Reds baseball stadium where thousands of men would be in attendance as well as many former professional coaches and athletes would speak and their journey’s of faith. I was just one of the many in that audience whose life was touched. My heart became so hardened and calloused with all the sin (bad choices) in my life over the years, but in a moment, became tender and able to receive the message that afternoon that God wanted to be back in my life. I guess you could say that I re-dedicated my life to God. I not only asked for His forgiveness, but also decided to get on His path. This decision was monumental. It also reminds me of a verse in the Bible in Matthew 18:12 where it says, “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wondered off?” I was one of those sheep that God went after.
That Spring when all of this took place did so much good for me. I was reinvigorated and had life again. Though I wasn’t perfect, I was doing my best to walk in obedience. A part of my story is that I could see again! Think about swimming in a pool that hadn’t been taken care of the right way for 9 years. Would you be able to see very good? Probably not! That was my situation, but God’s Living water now filled that pool and it was clear as day so I could examine my “game of life.” The areas I made changes with all started with my decision to put God first. The next areas of change were to stay away from the party scene, treat others better, take a class (Dale Carnegie), do something more than football (flipped a house that year)- but I also needed to first make the team so I continued working out and staying in shape.
I made the team that year and continued with my list of goals by putting God first and then the rest of the things I mentioned earlier followed. I was now 27 years old at the time and was so thankful that I had a chance to discover what it’s like to know how to give my best in not only my sport, but also in life. I was thankful that God showed up, helped me to change and also gave me a huge opportunity that was instigated when we went to the Grey Cup that year. As our team continued to win in play off games, I also had a vision of putting together a calendar and including pictures that I would take with my 3 throw away cameras!
As I reflect back on this period, I realized that I accomplished more in these 7 months than I had done in every year or period of life, including my 4 years of college at Vanderbilt! The calendar business was a success and it made me think about starting a new business that would be more than seasonal.
After I arrived in Cincinnati after selling almost all 3,000 calendars, I decided to start a brand of apparel. It seemed like a good fit, but I needed a name for this brand. Check, your and game were instigated by a logo that I saw from a friend and I decided this would be the name. The words were catchy, but I also looked up each word in the dictionary. I wanted to read what the dictionary said about them. That’s when I realized that I applied each of these words in my life almost a year before after I hit “rock bottom.” I am so thankful that the direction of the business changed from a product to a service.
Today, we share stories of faith from people who want to brag about God. It’s amazing how God can use our weaknesses in order to be a strength for others. Thanks again for reading my story and I hope you were encouraged.
God is good!
5:04 Going down Gary’s path (drinking, partying, not treating others the best)
6:10 Gary talks about water slowly boiling (how his ways were slowly getting worse)
6:55 Gary’s pivotal moment when he hit rock bottom at age 26 (100% chance of snow)
9:52-11:37 Gary discusses what he did in this terrible emotional state (fastest prayer/Promise Keepers)
11:45-12:40 100% chance of snow & 0% chance I’d go to Promise Keepers (“Big Dave” Rogers calls)
12:50- 14:09 Gary examined his “game of life” and made changes (God first, Dale Carnegie, flip a house, stay away of party scene, treating others better)
14:10-15:13 Desire to start Check Your Game
15:14-17:32 Gary talks about football practice and a certain play where he put it all together (CHECK YOUR GAME)!
18:55-20:02 What kinds of stories do we share on our website, plus THE SOLUTION to life
20:02 Reminded Jeff of a Bible verse (2 Corinthians 13:5) Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
21:41-24:01 Gary is asked if there’s a particular story that jumps out that epitomizes what Check Your Game is all about.
24:32-27:03 How a person can participate with Check Your Game/Search & Filter/Share Your Story-Nominate/Bills Corner
27:45 Jeff Broderick’s final words LinkedINJESUS)-Click Here to find out more
I have Nominated (N) and/or they have Shared (S) their story:
If I could give advice to others who are playing sports, I'd tell them giving in to peer pressure isn't worth it. Our choices we make today sometimes affect us our entire lifetime and that I would make a decision to not only obey laws because that is what laws are for but also the partying scene is not a good one. It can take you down a path of no return. It only leads to stress, being tired, poor choices, anxiousness and not feeling good about yourself. So bottom line for those athletes dealing with this is to say NO to peer pressure! I
Some other things I'd recommend is to get in the best shape possible. I remember watching an old Walter Payton video (played running back for the Chicago Bears) of him running hills and that inspired me to do just that. It was an old sled riding hill that I used to run during the off season in high-school that would challenge the very best, and so I used that hill to be in the best shape possible. Later on in my career after college(because in college you are forced to be in great shape), I hired a trainer to push me physically and mentally while playing in the CFL. I would always come in for the season in great shape. I believe it's those athletes that are in the best shape that are able to make the plays on the field much more than those who aren't in shape. Of course you need other things to perform in sports but it all starts with a foundation of being in great shape. The other advice that I didn't do so well was to watch film. When you watch film of yourself in practice and/or in games, you learn so much from that and can improve yourself as an athlete. That also goes to watching film of your opponent. You are able to learn more about them so that when a play takes place, you don't have to think as hard and will be way more efficient.
The last piece of advice I'd give to someone who is playing sports or not, is that there is a better way to go through life with a personal relationship with the God of the Universe! It took me many years to figure that part out, but if you get to a point like I got in one of my rock bottom states and looking to make a change in direction, you should give God a chance! Talk to him, ask him for help and make sure you let someone you know who you believes has a background of Faith know that you are seeking God for more guidance! This is more important than everything else. This decision also will help you in all aspects of life and being able to go through anything that comes your way. The storms, water and wind will beat against your house at some point, but with a decision to follow God, He will allow your foundation to be stronger than anything you could do on your own!
My business card
Storytelling & Real Estate
When I'm not interviewing people or marketing stories of faith over Check Your Game, I sell real estate in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.
My typical customer
Any person who is interested in buying or selling real estate in the United States AND wants to know that their transaction helps support a business that shares stories of faith with us at Check Your Game.
Visit my website: https://checkyourgame.com/