Finding A Way | Kyle Spurgin
DCC has always been blessed by the help of volunteers, from those from area churches who have helped paint and clean dormitories, to youth groups landscaping on spring break, to folks in retirement who serve in offices, dorms, and community (the Arringtons these days, or Mrs. Crawford in the past, e.g.).
Rarely does a young person starting out in a career (and marriage) have much time to volunteer, but this year Kyle Spurgin has found a way. From 1:00 to 5:00 or 6:00 most weekdays, and weekends when there are games, he is out on the baseball field as Coach Denny Dixon’s assistant coach–all as a volunteer.
How does he do it? He and wife Adrianna (Walton-Rogers) have figured out a way. While Adrianna teaches fourth-grade language arts fulltime in DeSoto, Kyle treks to two other or three jobs besides DCC: he is a substitute teacher for DeSoto and Carrollton-Farmers Branch school districts and also works for his stepfather’s landscaping business whenever he needs to. In the fall, he substituted for full days, but with spring baseball season, he substitutes half days. That’s how he does it.
Why? Three big reasons: love of the game, appreciation for DCC’s mission, and admiration for Coach Dixon.
Kyle’s love of the game goes back to playing catch with his dad, who played any sport his two sons wanted to play. Kyle’s first team play was coach-pitch when he was eight. He says he was “behind the others,” but adds, “I could have struck out six times and still be having the time of my life. It was the funnest year ever.”
He played from then on. In high school in DeSoto, he pitched for four years, and for the last one also added first base. For three years in a row, this team made the state play-offs, and that was for a school that before them hadn’t made playoffs in fourteen years. The key element in their success, says Kyle, was chemistry. Many of that team had grown up together, making them not just talented but also united.
Says Kyle, “I’ll take chemistry over talent any day.”
Kyle’s relationship to DCC began in summer after his high-school graduation when Coach Dixon saw him pitch a no-hitter–and signed him up on the spot. Kyle knows that God was behind that moment, for not only was he getting the chance to play in college but also was being given the chance to get back on track with God after drifting in high school. And it didn’t hurt that it meant staying in town close to Adrianna, who was a year behind him.
Kyle’s faith goes back to childhood. Though his parents divorced when he was an infant and both have remarried, they are Christians, have maintained a friendly relationship, and have had a Christian influence on their kids. His strongest Christian influence, though, was his maternal grandmother. She pre-schooled him not only with multiplication tables, he remembers, but with Bible verses. Throughout his life she encouraged him in baseball and in leadership: Kyle preached his senior sermon with her in mind, preaching not being something he usually does. [link to sermon] Although she passed away in 2015, two months from her 100th birthday, her influence on him continues.
Though playing ball was his main motive when he enrolled, he caught on to DCC’s mission. He especially started to see it when he began student teaching and a verse from a Bible class would come to mind. Now he incorporated a lot of what he learned in the classroom; the methods that work in class also work with a team. He especially appreciates Dr. Horn of the Education Department for developing his confidence. The principles Kyle learned in his education classes have direct application with the baseball team.
Team Chaplain Gary Hardy says, “Kyle was one the most supportive players of my role as chaplain when I came onboard with the team. He always made it a point to personally thank me each time I gave a pre-game devotion. Since he’s become a coach, we’ve roomed together on road trips, which has given me an even greater opportunity to see Kyle’s spiritual development. I admire him greatly.”
Coach Dixon is the third big reason Kyle keeps coming to DCC. Says Kyle, “Coach Dixon has impacted me, in the six years I’ve been around him, more than anyone else in the game. For the four years as a player, I always progressed and grew, and every year I learned more and more about the game even though I had been in it so long.”
But it wasn’t just that Coach knows the game.
Coach, says Kyle, is “a great role model in his work ethic. For the last two years of coaching, it’s been a true pleasure to be on the other side of things with him and now progress in the way I coach rather than play the game. I get to learn all over again with the greatest coach I’ve ever had…I could go on and on about Coach Dixon, and it still wouldn’t be enough to describe how he has impacted my life.”
Kyle is now seeing how his ties to baseball also influence his effectiveness as a teacher, even a substitute one. He now gets to substitute back at his old high school, where he got good grades but “was sort of a goofball.” His former teachers are surprised–and pleased–and they request him as their substitute. And kids on the current baseball team are impressed, too, and come to his aid when other students are taking the stereotypical attitude toward the sub. Kyle smiles and says, “I never would have guessed.”
Asked whether he has any advice for a first year of marriage, he emphasizes that you must want to devote time to each other, like walking the dogs in the park together. It ought not to be “have to” but “want to.” It’s especially important when both have busy schedules. Kyle adds, “Definitely seek marriage counseling before you marry.”
Does Adrianna like baseball? She does. And now that she knows more than the basics of the game, Kyle finds her to be a good sounding-board for his ideas.
The biggest issue facing this year’s team, says Kyle, is age. With only one senior, captain Keith Matyasovsky, and two juniors, the team faces the challenge of learning to work together, learning that it’s not about self but about the team and ultimately about serving Christ through one’s talent. It takes awhile to get that across, but it makes the future bright for this team.
To say the least, DCC and its baseball team are blessed to have Kyle Spurgin assisting our beloved Coach Dixon.