UB Safeties Coach Jeff Burrow Learned How to Blend His Faith and Coaching at Greenville University
“The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” Episode 50
After the 2017 football season Coach Burrow was let go by Kent State University. He didn’t know what to do or what direction his life was going to go.
However, lessons Coach Burrow learned during his first coaching job at Division III school Greenville University helped him stay strong in his faith. This also affected the way he approached his job offer from the University at Buffalo.
UB Bulls’ Safeties Coach Jeff Burrow sat down with Noah and Bjorn for this week’s podcast to discuss how his faith and coaching career have intersected.
Coach Burrow Learned at Greenville University That his Coaching and Faith Can Go Together
“He planted the seed in me that you can be a coach, and you can be a Christian as well. They don’t have to be independent of each other”--Coach Jeff Burrow
Coach Burrow says that he learned a valuable lesson during his first coaching job. This first job was for Greenville University - a small, Christian Division III school in Illinois.
The head coach at Greenville while Coach Burrow was there was a devout Christian. While he was already a man of faith, Coach Burrow says the head coach was a big influence on him.
The head coach provided an example to Coach Burrow of what a Christian coach looks like. He was fired up about football, but he wasn’t ruled by it.
It was here that Coach Burrow saw that football and faith didn’t have to be independent of each other.
On the podcast Coach Burrow talks about what else he learned from his former boss.
Coach Burrow’s Faith Helped Him Get Through a Period of Unemployment
“I think God was testing my faith to see if I would really trust him”--Coach Jeff Burrow
At the end of the 2017 football season Coach Burrow was let go from Kent State University. Coach Burrow spent his first six seasons serving as the safeties coach at Kent State and his last season as co-defensive coordinator.
When Coach Burrow found himself out of a job, it was a time of stress and anxiety. He says that he found himself doing a lot of praying and placing a lot of trust in God.
However, when going through this tough time, Coach Burrow kept thinking about the phrase “A faith that can’t be tested can’t be trusted.”
In the podcast episode Coach Burrows talks about how this phrase connected to what he was going through and how it affected the way he viewed his time of unemployment.
Something else that helped Coach Burrow was the lesson he learned at Greenville University.
While football is his passion, it isn’t what rules his life. Because of this, he was able to be more at peace with his life and the direction God was taking it.
Coach Burrow Put His Faith Before Football at UB
“I said ‘Coach, the only way I can take this job is if you allow me to honor this mission trip’”--Coach Jeff Burrow
Coach Burrow was unemployed for four months before he heard from UB, which reached out to him to fill the Bulls’ director of player personnel position.
However, there was a conflict.
A few weeks earlier Coach Burrow had committed to a football mission trip to China. On the podcast Coach Burrow explains what this mission trip was and the impact it had on him.
Coach Burrow says that this mission trip overlapped with when he was supposed to start working for the UB Bulls over the summer.
However, there wasn’t even a consideration for Coach Burrow - he knew he wanted to stay committed to the mission trip. He put his faith over football.
Coach Burrow told UB he would accept the job, but only if he could still honor the mission trip. He says UB Head Coach Lance Leipold was 100% on board, leading Coach Burrow to accept the position.
What is God Teaching You?
Coach Burrow’s experiences in life are great examples for us of what it looks like to be a Christian in sports.
Coach Burrow has reached a level in his sports career that many of us likely aren’t at or won’t reach. However, he hasn’t let football consume him.
While football is his passion, he holds his faith in higher regard. This is apparent by his commitment to the football mission trip in China and the sense of peace he was able to find during his time of unemployment.
Having interests and passions is great! God wants us to have these things.
However, they shouldn’t get in the way of our faith. God is the one who has blessed us with the gifts and skills to enjoy our interests. At the end of the day, God, and our relationship with Him, should be our main priority.
Coach Burrow was also able to learn what a Christian coach looked during his time at Greenville University because of the example the head coach there set. This is a great example of the importance of having mentors in our life.
Learning on our own can be valuable. However, having at least one person in our life who can set an example for us and provide us with advice is so important.
This mentor can represent what we want to become, showing has to do so and giving us advice. By having a mentor, we can also hope to avoid the many pitfalls around us.
After all, God wants us to walk in fellowship and not alone.
What are your passions and interests? Are they more important to you than your faith?
Do you have any mentors in your life? Is there anyone you can be a mentor to?
To hear the conversation that Noah and Bjorn had with Coach Burrow about how he became a coach, how faith and sports go together in his life, how he ended up at UB and much more, check out “The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” episode 50.
“The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” is a podcast based out of Hamburg, New York, that was started in May of 2020 to discuss faith and its intersection with sports. Noah Corsten and Bjorn Webb co-host the podcast, interviewing both past and current athletes and coaches about how faith plays a role in their life. “The Sweat Room” is a part of Watermark Wesleyan Church’s Sports & Fitness Ministry. The podcast can be found on the website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and wherever you stream your podcasts.