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Bethel Welcomes Tony Dungy

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Bethel University welcomed former NFL coach Tony Dungy to campus on Tuesday, April 3, for a presentation in Benson Great Hall that was geared toward Bethel athletes as well as the university community.

Dungy, a Super Bowl winning coach, New York Times best-selling author, and outspoken Christian, addressed the crowd of hundreds for nearly an hour and a half in a two-part presentation. First he spoke directly to Bethel’s student-athletes about building a culture that wins, relating the concept to the entire person by touching on the importance of being successful both on the playing field and in life.

Following this address, Head Football Coach Steve Johnson interviewed Dungy and Ben Hamilton, a former 10-year NFL offensive lineman who is being mentored by Dungy. In the closing minutes of the opening session, Bethel coaches had the opportunity to gather around and pray for Dungy and Hamilton. “I was delighted to see and speak to so many student-athletes,” Dungy said. “It’s great to have a group this size committed to excellence on and off the field.”

The second half of Dungy’s presentation was open to the entire Bethel community. Dungy tailored his talk toward the importance of a spiritual component in one’s life, especially in conjunction with the social, educational, and physical demands that are already present in a collegiate lifestyle. He then sat down with President Jay Barnes, who asked a series of questions about coaching, mentoring, leadership, and faith. In answer to a question about a person in the Bible who resonates with him, Dungy mentioned the apostle Paul. “I admire Paul, who lived with a mixture of boldness and compassion,” he explained. “Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11, ‘Follow me as I follow Christ,’ which challenges me to live accordingly, and I challenge you the same.”

Within the past few weeks and through some personal contacts, Bethel was notified that it might be possible for Dungy to speak on campus. Paul Olson, former Bethel executive vice president for institutional advancement, was a catalyst in the process. A planning team led by Bob Bjorklund, athletic director, worked on the details of the visit and arranged for the student-athlete half of the event. Bjorklund received many positive comments from attendees. “The time with Tony was a unique highlight for the student-athletes and the Bethel community,” he says. “I believe Dungy's lifestyle and commitment to Christ were revealed in an authentic way, which successfully spoke to all who attended.”

Following the morning event at Bethel, Dungy spoke at an Athletes in Action luncheon in Edina, Minn., before speaking to athletes at the University of Minnesota.