APU Hosts 30th Night of Champions

by Bethany Wagner '14

On March 22, APU’s Felix Event Center will fill with pounding music, cheering voices, and the words of the Gospel as more than 4,000 junior high and high school students gather for Night of Champions. The evening brings top Christian artists, athletes, and coaches to campus to share a message of hope with Southern California youth in a relevant and dynamic way. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, this year’s event centers on the theme God First—the university motto. Night of Champion takes place from 2–9 p.m.; tickets cost $15 at the door.

“Night of Champions provides exciting entertainment, yet the strongest impact comes from the personal stories that present the power of the Gospel,” said Mike Barnett, director of track and field at APU and organizer of Night of Champions. “We invite Christians with triumphant testimonies—celebrity speakers as well as dynamic people not well known in the public sphere. No matter whom we bring on stage, the students see that it is not their successes that make them champions, but how they overcome failures and disappointments by putting God First."

Scheduled speakers include 2014 Winter Olympian Johnny Quinn, a four-time member of the U.S. bobsled team and former professional football wide receiver who played for the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers. Quinn will touch upon his athletic career and give his testimony. Terrell Watson ’15, a star running back on the APU football team, GNAC Offensive Player of the Year, and NFL prospect, will share how he overcame many obstacles in his pursuit of football and Christ.

Christian artists Transparent and band Urban Rescue promise great music at the event. Transparent, an international hip hop and rap artist, recently won the 2013 BET Music Matters Showcase in Los Angeles with his new single “One Way.” His latest album D.O.P.E. (Dominating On Purpose Everyday) received national acclaim, with singles featured on ESPN and radio stations across the nation. A college band that began in a dorm room at Point Loma Nazarene University, Urban Rescue continues their mission to write and produce music for the world that is honest, authentic, and passionate. The band’s first full-length album Listen Empty is a personal dialogue between creation and Creator, exploring faith amidst heartache, pain, and doubt.

On Friday evening, the night before the event, APU will host a dinner for 80, bringing together 30 years of people involved with Night of Champions in celebration of the event’s impact. Terry Franson, Ph.D., senior vice president for student life and dean of students, who has helped facilitate Night of Champions since its genesis, reflects on its legacy: “As we look back on the last three decades, we stand amazed at the many ways God has moved through this event and the people who have attended and served.”