@KSholo of @REDBLACKS speaks on his beliefs before Faith Day on Aug. 30

Photo Credit: Gord Weber  Keith Shologan (#74) in action for the Ottawa RedBlacks, above, is one of the players speaking Sunday at the Athletes in Action Faith Day event.

Photo Credit: Gord Weber
Keith Shologan (#74) in action for the Ottawa RedBlacks, above, is one of the players speaking Sunday at the Athletes in Action Faith Day event.

Ottawa RedBlacks defensive line man Keith Shologan may wear #74 on his jersey but he proudly wears his faith on his sleeve; as he plays to win every game.

“I’m out there fiercely fighting because God didn’t put us here to get second place, but to run the race to win,” said Shologan. “My desire is to play and win and to glorify God, I want to do well but always remember what Christ did for me on the cross.”

Shologan is having a strong season with 13 tackles and four sacks. He was named one of the top CFL players for week seven after he had five tackles and three sacks as the RedBlacks defeated the Montreal Aloutettes 26-23 at home.

“It was nice to get some recognition … I give all the glory to God,” said Shologan.

He plays a clean game and stays focused on and off the field.

“I play hard and win to glorify God, I don’t take my Christian ‘hat’ off for football,” explained Shologan. “I do get emotional but I don’t take cheap shots or swear on the sidelines. I stand up for my values and what God has commanded us to do.”

The two most important commandments for him: loving God and loving his neighbours.

“Christ is our savior and we need to reflect on that … those are the two biggest things, that’s what Jesus said to do ‘Love God and Love our Neighbours.’”

Shologan grew up in a Christian home and knew his Saviour from a young age, but started a deeper relationship with Christ a few years ago.

“God really took hold of me in 2010 when a roommate and I were diving into scripture and what Christ did for us on the cross,” said Shologan. “I really developed a complete reliance on Him since 2010, when I really developed a personal relationship with him.”

Off the field

Paul Huggins, from Athletes in Action (AIA), is the team Chaplain and holds a weekly bible study with around 15 regular attendees. He also holds a pre-game chapel three hours before kick-off for those who can attend.

“In professional sports you are only as good as your next play but thankfully that’s not how God sees it,” said Huggins.

Shologan is one of the players who attends the study and says it helps develop a closer relationship with his teammates.

“It definitely gives us camaraderie, just as any other bible study and church family does…during the season we are here for six months and it is hard to develop a home church because football takes up our whole life,” explained Shologan. “Even non-believers have Paul to talk with because the business of football can be cruel sometimes.”

Shologan is one of the players who will be speaking at the RedBlacks first-ever Faith Day presented by AIA on Aug. 30 after the team plays the Saskatchewan Roughriders at TD Place.

Similar events like this one take place across the Canadian Football League; Huggins says there was some discussion last year to hold an event with more in the off season.

“We are dipping our feet in the water to see how it goes,” said Huggins.

Speaking with him before the event sold out he was pleased with the response thus far.

“It’s a good start as we didn’t know what to expect as it doesn’t necessarily have a proven record (in Ottawa),” said Huggins. “We are hoping people think it’s an intriguing event … It is providing some of our players a chance to step outside of the football box and engage in the community …and engage with their faith, it helps shape their experience in a realistic way.”

“It’s great that it’s sold out,” said Shologan. “I’m very excited for the youth and the churches that are coming out to hear what we have to say.”

It’s also a chance for the public to see the players in a different perspective.

“These guys are normal people we like to cheer for and they are no different than anyone else, it shows how they deal with being professional athletes and the various challenges that come with that,” said Huggins.

The opening act for the event will see former Ottawa Rough Rider Gerry Organ hit the stage on the arena floor. Organ had his number retired by the club after playing 13 seasons with the team. He held the league record for six field goals in a game and was the first player to pass the 1,000 point mark.

Also speaking with Organ will be Leon Brown who at 50 years of age just claimed a world power lifting record.

Next up Huggins will interview on stage about five RedBlacks players in a panel discussion format on their faith.

After they are finished there will be a time for photos and autographs.

When asked what the goal of the event Huggins was grateful for the chance to present it.

“It’s a unique opportunity to partner with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group and connect with a different demographic, it’s faith stretching for the players and gives them a different perspective,” said Huggins. “I am praying and hoping their story has resonance with those in attendance.”

Shologan will be preparing for the event by asking God to give him words to speak to those in attendance.

“God is a sovereign God, it is up to him,” said Shologan. “I’m asking God that He does some work and that they get to know us and our Saviour.”

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