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A Night of Champions

by Danielle Vanaman '06

Following an afternoon of fun-filled games, concerts, and group activities, more than 3,000 junior high and high school students poured into the Richard and Vivian Felix Event Center to hear some of the biggest names in professional sports share about what God has been doing in their lives. The diverse selection of speakers at this year’s Night of Champions ranged from the Pasadena Rose Parade Queen to one of the University of Southern California’s (USC) toughest football players. Despite their differences, they all shared a common message about the universal need for people to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Night of Champions is an annual one-night outreach event held at APU and co-sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Its purpose is to reach Southern Californian youth by creating a relaxed environment where they can hear God’s Word through bands, entertainment groups, and the personal testimonies of well-known Christian athletes.

One of the evening’s speakers was Keary Colbert, a member of USC’s football team and one of the country’s top wide receivers. Keary, who received USC’s Most Inspirational Player Award, shared about his struggles and triumphs both on and off the field. “It’s been a struggle for me to realize daily that life isn’t perfect, but that God does still have a plan for me. I’m learning that no matter what it is, if God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it," said Keary.

Other speakers included Amanda Cromwell, head soccer coach at the University of Central Florida, also currently a midfielder for the WUSA’s San Jose CyberRays; and Michael Chang, the youngest person to win a maindraw match at the U.S. Open and currently one of the fastest players in the tennis circuit. The night also featured several entertainment groups, including APU’s Gospel Choir and the comical APU favorite “Men Without Shirts.”

More than 400 APU student volunteers attended Night of Champions. Volunteers had the opportunity to help out in a variety of ways, from playing with attendees in the giant inflatable bounce houses, to praying with students who came forward at the end of the night to accept Christ.

“I had an amazing time,” said Monica Stone ’06, a Night of Champions volunteer. “It was so much fun just to hang out with the kids and enjoy their company. I was also glad that I could be there to talk to them about what they heard during the main program and answer any questions that they had. It was a nice break from the usual school routine.”