Photo Courtesy: LAAviators.com
Ladies and gentlemen, meet our very first Ultimate Disc League feature athlete “The Sultan” Michael Kiyoi of the Los Angeles Aviators. Michael was a part of the San Jose Spiders American Ultimate Disc League championship team in 2014 as well as honored as one of the top Players to Watch in 2015. He took the time to flex his spiritual muscles and share how God has provided him strength through a sport that continues to grow in popularity throughout to the country.
Who do you connect with most in The Bible and why?
I connect with David the most because of the songs he wrote. I have a great love of music and appreciate the depth and importance of each Psalm. Through music we can experience God's love, grace, and creativeness. It offers such a powerful form of praise/worship and David was a true master of it.
Do you have a specific verse or passage you live by?
Psalm 139 has been a passage that I live by and reflect on often. It points to the knowledge, power, love and eternal sovereignty of God. Verses 23-24 state "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way of the everlasting!" This passage is both challenging and humbling knowing that it is a continuous process.
While Ultimate is growing in popularity throughout the nation, how do you find ways to share your faith?
The way I share my faith is by example and through prayer. If I can live in a way that is glorifying to God it can draw people to ask why. When people ask why I tell them. I also tell my teammates and people in the community that I'm praying for them. Prayer is very powerful and even people that aren't Christian can appreciate it. It demonstrates that you care about them and are thinking about them. Often times it can lead to a non-evasive discussion about faith and God.
Where do you experience God the most in your daily life?
I experience God most through music and playing ultimate. When I'm playing ultimate we are usually outside on a great field or beautiful beach. Before every game or practice we have a tradition of checking in. This is a time for us to focus our minds and prepare for what we are about to do. Before I play I always pray the same four things:
Praying these things helps me keep my priorities straight and experience God to the fullest.
What advice would you give your younger self about faith?
I would encourage my younger self to always trust God and know that His plan is good.
As a Christian, how do you think you can make the biggest impact on your team?
I think my biggest impact is helping us to stay positive and play fairly. Spirit of the Game is a governing idea that encourages everyone to be honest, play clean and treat others well. It is a concept that is in line with Christian ideals and something I feel is unique in our sport. Spirit of the Game is very important and we want our team to be known as fair athletes.
Finally, what does Play4Him mean to you?
To play for God is the most important priority and means a great deal to me. God has blessed me so much and it is a true privilege to play ultimate. As for the organization Play4Him, I think it is an awesome and extremely important thing. There are so many young people that look up to professional athletes and it is fantastic that they can see them living glorifying lives even with great success. It's also great to give insight on how a Christian athlete views their job and faith.
While Michael has been honing his craft on the field, he has been a great example of Christ off the field as well. He came down with a season ending ACL injury prior to the 2015 season but he didn’t say “woe is me” and abandon his brothers on the team, he stuck around as an assistant coach for the season. That is just one example of how Michael reflects God and allows Him to use him to his fullest potential. Michael also volunteers in the community and impacts many through his selflessness and work ethic.
You can follow Michael Kiyoi on twitter @MichaelKiyoi