In 2001, my good friend Raymond Toilolo, a youth athletic coach and minister had a vision to utilize a sport in which he held a deep passion, football, as a vehicle for outreaching and ministering to youth in the San Diego community. Enlisting the support of a number of coaches with similar interests in working with student-athletes, Gridiron Ministries was born.
Gridiron Ministries began with modest intentions. The original plan of the organization was to provide an off-season strength and conditioning program for local student-athletes free of charge. Incorporated into this program were ongoing discussions regarding faith, family, and community, and encouragement and emphasis on academic achievement.
The initial group of student-athletes was highly responsive to the program. These participants not only showed improvement on the field of play, but also demonstrated a higher degree of character development and a stronger belief in the Christian faith.
The student-athletes also gained a greater understanding for the need for academic accountability. Progress report cards were a requirement for participation in the program, as was the maintenance of minimum grade point average (“GPA”) levels.
Measuring success should not only be done quantitatively, but should also be done from a qualitative perspective as well. For a ministry, success should be measured both by the number of individuals who have benefitted from the services of the ministry, as well as by the extent to which the individuals’ lives have been impacted.
Gridiron Ministries has trained and mentored several hundred student-athletes throughout its existence. Many of these student-athletes have excelled both in the classroom as well as on the field of play.
The organization has also helped propel several student-athletes into the collegiate ranks. A number of these student-athletes have applied the fundamentals and principals they received from Gridiron Ministries towards obtaining athletic scholarships from their respective universities. Among these student-athletes are:
- Jericho Toilolo, 2010 Graduate, California Lutheran University
- Jacob Tauanu’u, 2011 Graduate, San Diego State University
- Levine Toilolo, 2013 Graduate, Stanford University
- Ignacio “Iggy” Silva, 2013 Graduate, Lees-McCrae College, NC
- Homer Mauga, 2013 Graduate, University of Idaho
- Aason McClaron, Greenville College, MO / United States Navy
- Edlen Hernandez, New Mexico Highlands University, NM
- Anthony Anderson, University of Oregon
- Anthony Larceval, San Jose State University
- Trelan Taylor, Chadron State University
- Daniel Veal, Iowa Wesleyan University
- Sean Linton, San Jose State University
- Sam Meredith, San Diego State University
- Nico Siragusa, San Diego State University
- Raymont Nailon, Humboldt State University
- Darrien Oliver, Chadron State University
- Victor Bowen, Chadron State University
- Augustine Lugo, Chadron State University
- Israel “Tofi” Paopao, Florida International University
- William Milo, Colorado State Mesa University
- Justin Harrison, University of San Diego
Female athletes have also benefitted from their experience with Gridiron Ministries. These student-athletes include:
- Chasity Toilolo, Graduate, 2010 University of Utah (Track & Field)
- Sipau Lee-Noa, Graduate, 2010 University of Hawaii, Hilo (Softball)
- Mele Leasau, Graduate, 2011 Houston Baptist University (Basketball)
- Diana Leasau, California State University, Dominguez Hills (Basketball)
- Janeh Toilolo, California State University, Humboldt (Rugby)
- Sydni Toilolo, Southwestern College, San Diego (Softball)
- Precious Noa, Southwestern College, San Diego (Softball)
Off-Season Training Programs
At present, Gridiron Ministries offers three separate off-season training programs. These programs are designed to provide the following:
- Spiritual training
- Character building
- Leadership training
- Core strengthening and conditioning
- Speed trainingThe three current programs are:
- Gridiron Ministries Elite Camp – held from February through March, this 6 week camp is offered on an invitation-only basis to select high school age student-athletes.
- Gridiron Ministries G3 Training Camp – held from April through June, this 9 week camp is offered to student-athletes of all ages.
- Gridiron Ministries Next Generation Training Camp – held in July, this 3 week camp is offered to student-athletes in grades 1 through 8 that participate in youth football.Each of the current programs follows a similar format. This format includes:
- Camp workouts are held three days per week (Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays)
- Tuesday and Thursday workouts are held either on grass or artificial turf
- Saturday workouts are held at Coronado Beach
- Workouts are comprised of two components
- Spiritual training/Bible study
- Physical training
- Each workout is two hours in duration
- The first 30 minutes are dedicated to the spiritual training component
- The final 90 minutes are dedicated to the physical training component
I have seen this “Miracle in the Making” program transition from its grass roots to an absolutely impactful, focused and successful organization. The lives of the participants are touched physically and spiritually. If you are looking for a refreshing approach to improving the skills of your children both mentally, physically and spiritually, I would look into the programs Gridiron Ministries have to offer.
Visit www.gridironministries.com or call (619)890-8252 for more information.
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