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It's Game Time in Tennessee

posted May 16, 2011, 12:08 PM by Sarah Brehm

Typically, when I hear “It’s Game Time in Tennessee” thoughts of Tennessee orange, Rocky Top, and touchdowns arise. Going to Neyland Stadium for a football game is such a thrill—the excitement builds as you walked toward the stadium, the crowd in bright orange, many singing Rocky Top. And then you get to your seat and see the pristine field, with the signature orange-and-white checkerboard end zones. The team kicks off, and the hours that follow are filled with disappointing lows and triumphant highs. It is an experience that I look forward to every football season.

But many of the UT student athletes had a dream to fill the 100,000 seats of Neyland Stadium, not for a football game, but for a worship service. Thus, Game Time was created under the guidance of UT Chaplain Roger Woods. Game Time was an all-day event, with various sports camps for kids, and it culminated in Neyland for a free concert featuring Benjiman, Charles and Taylor, Superchick, Group 1 Crew, and Israel Houghton.


Over 700 kids participated in the sports camps, and when Neyland opened its doors, about 2,000 people of all ages wandered in—not quite the dream of 100,000, but if this event becomes an annual thing, it will continue to grow.


The music kicked off with rapper Benjiman, who traveled all the way from Oregon. He sang a few songs from the album S.K.R.I.P.T. (Spreading Kingdom Realities in Perilous Times), and got the crowd moving a bit. Benjiman is at his best when he combines elements of rock and rap, similar to Manafest and Linkin Park.


In between each musical act, Derek Dooley, Pat Summit, Mike Hamilton, and new basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin, shared their faith via video.


Performing next was the duo Charles and Taylor, who energized the crowd with modern gospel tunes.


Then three former UT football players took the stage to share how Christ has impacted their lives. The testimony of former QB Jonathan Crompton (now playing for the New England Patriots) really struck me. A few years ago, Crompton was the quarterback for the Vols; at times he was on fire, nailing pass after pass; at other times, he seemed to struggle. When playing for a team that has a reputation of perfection, I can only imagine the pressure that Crompton and other players go through. Crompton even received death threats! (Vol fans—that’s taking the game way too far. Remember, they’re people too!)

Crompton discussed his decision to come to UT—at the time, he could only mention that he had a feeling it was the right choice. Now, looking back, he knows it was so he could meet people like Nick Reveiz, Chris Walker, and chaplain Roger Woods, who helped him grow spiritually. He grew up in the church, but was never focused on Christ. In 2009, Crompton gave his life to Christ. He knows he won’t be playing football forever, but he can wake up with a smile on his face every day because of God.


After a brief intermission to let an afternoon rainstorm pass, Superchick rocked the crowd with their energetic, positive music. They jumped and danced on stage as they performed many of their hit songs including “Cross the Line,” “Rock What You Got,” “Hey, Hey” and the first song they ever wrote “One Girl Revolution” which was featured in the movie Legally Blonde. Listening to the lyrics of Superchick, it’s obvious that their passion is to instill a strong self-esteem and individuality to those who struggle to just be themselves, the ones who don’t quite fit in. “Why kiss the feet of the people who kick you, when you can be anything that you want to?” sings Tricia Brock in “Hey, Hey.” Superchick reminds us to not be afraid to be ourselves, to live as God intended—being happy.


Two female athletes, Tabor Spani and Sarah Van Sickle spoke about being passionate for God and trusting in him. They had hoped for no rain, but the rain came anyway (enough to keep the evening cool, instead of disgustingly hot and humid like it usually is here in the south!), and as Roger Woods started into prayer after they spoke, a rainbow cut across the sky over Neyland Stadium—it was beautiful.


Group 1 Crew danced onto the stage next. When describing Group 1 Crew to other people I always end up saying, “They’re the Christian version of Black Eyed Peas, except better.” Complete with backup dancers, they were a delight to watch. At one point Manwell Reyes smiled at crowd and mentioned he could see some of the older individuals, the parents, sitting there thinking “I don’t know about all this rhythmic movement.” “For some reason,” he said, “the church thinks that David danced like this.” He stuck his hands in the air and jumped straight up and down. The crowd laughed. He explained that he expresses his joy for God through dance and encouraged the audience to get loose and dance too.


I missed the sermon of Dr. Pete because I had to go to the restroom and then I roamed the merchandise tables. When I returned to my seat, there was an altar call going on. When that was over, Israel Houghton and New Breed closed the wonderful night with some worship music. Just seeing the few thousand people there singing “Our God is an awesome God” was impressive, and it gives me chills to think about what it would be like if the stadium were full.


Words by: Sarah Brehm
Pictures and Videos by: Sarah Brehm


Neyland Stadium
Charles and Taylor

Superchick "Cross the Line" live at Game Time


Group 1 Crew "Movin" live at Game Time