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Bethel and football helped Brady Bomsta strive to “give his gifts away for free.”

Brady Bomsta ’19 overcame injuries and hardships to grow and lead during the Bethel football team’s successful 2018 season. He plans to carry on what he learned at Bethel as a coach and teacher.

By Jason Schoonover ’09, content specialist

May 24, 2019 | 11:15 a.m.

Brady Bomsta ’19

Brady Bomsta ’19 helps two students at Centennial Public Schools, where he’s student teaching in Chris Kopp’s algebra class. After a transformative experience at Bethel, Bomsta plans to be a coach and math teacher after graduation.

After breaking his leg for a third straight season, Brady Bomsta ’19 recovered to contribute as Bethel’s football team won two playoff games and reached the third round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs. But Head Coach Steve Johnson says Bomsta contributed just as much to the team from the sidelines while rehabbing. “He became a coach and a mentor and stayed a great brother to the guys,” Johnson says.

Just as he overcame multiple injuries to become a leader for Bethel football, Bomsta grew at Bethel on a personal level after facing hardships in his childhood. As he graduates this month, he strives to “give his gifts away for free”—a reference to one of Johnson’s common sayings—as a teacher and coach.

“I want to live a life in Christ”

When Bomsta enrolled at Bethel, football was life. Johnson and his coaching staff recruited Bomsta, a talented but undersized running back, because they saw the type of person the team seeks out: an authentic, happy-hearted tough guy. But Bomsta, a Waseca, Minnesota, native, admits he nearly left Bethel during his first days on campus. As the sixth of nine children, he struggled to be on his own in a new community. And he wasn’t aware of the depth of Bethel’s Christian faith before starting school—he just came to play football. “Their goal was actually to be great men and women of Christ,” he says. “That really kind of took me off guard.”

Brady Bomsta ’19

Brady Bomsta ’19, number 33, celebrates a Royals touchdown during a football game. Despite suffering several injuries, Bomsta grew into a leader for the Bethel football team and returned as a blocker to help during the Royals’ 2018 run to the third round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs.

Bomsta admits he wasn’t in a great emotional place then, either, because of hardships early in life. He struggled with doubts about his own self-worth. As a teenager and young man, he drank to escape his struggles with depression. Early at Bethel, he didn’t apply himself to his studies.

Bomsta’s life took an unexpected turn his sophomore year. Just as he was establishing himself as a running back, he broke his leg in a game. Bomsta wondered how he would endure an injury keeping him from football, but he found support at Bethel. “When that happened and football got taken away from me, I was still genuinely happy because of the relationships I’d built at Bethel, because of all the community at Bethel, and everyone at Bethel was so supportive,” Bomsta says. He remembers his roommate hugging him and telling him he was there for him. “I want to be like that,” Bomsta remembers thinking. “I want to live a life in Christ.”

Meanwhile, Bethel’s football culture transformed Bomsta. It taught him that Christian guys can be tough and also love one another like brothers. He resonated with Johnson urging his players to be great men, great husbands, great sons, and great brothers before sports. “We’re going to be great for God and then football will come next,” Bomsta says.

After the injuries, Bomsta returned as a fullback who “gave his gifts away for free” by blocking and helping younger running backs gain yards and big stat lines—a role Bomsta loved. “He probably became a better leader for us than he could have if he was the star running back—and he could have been the star running back,” Johnson says.

Johnson describes Bomsta as honest, open, passionate, and often loud. “He’s never fake,” Johnson says with a laugh. “For a while, that wasn’t great.” But Johnson saw Bomsta change after he surrendered his heart to the Lord. In sports, Johnson says, teammates and coaches grow together and are often able to hold one another accountable as they do. While Bomsta credits Bethel and Bethel football for helping redirect his life, Johnson notes the experience has been mutual. “He had the same effect on us,” Johnson says.

Brady Bomsta ’19

Brady Bomsta ’19, number 33, runs the ball for the Royals during a Royals football game.

Bomsta admits he still faces hardships, but now he leans on his faith. After his first injury, Bomsta rebroke the same leg the following two seasons. During the frustration and heartbreak of the injuries, he utilized lessons from a Bethel class that urged students to share all their emotions with God. Bomsta remembers being verbal and honest with God in prayer, even screaming. “At that moment, I’ve never felt more comfort in my life,” he says.

“He brings a lot of joy to teaching”

After graduation, Bomsta plans to invest in students and athletes as a teacher and coach. Bomsta, who has coached youth football programs and camps for several years already, says Coach Johnson taught him how to bring new layers to coaching. It showed him he doesn’t need to be as hard on a young player, who may be going through something off the field. You can show them love and care and still be effective, Bomsta explains.

Those lessons carried over to Bomsta’s teaching. Bomsta, a math major with an education 5-12 licensure, often repeats many of Coach J’s phrases to his students at Centennial Public Schools, where he’s student teaching in Chris Kopp’s algebra class. Quoting Johnson, he urges his students to “be where your feet are” and asks them to be great for the 50 minutes they’re in class by being respectful and paying attention.

Kopp commends Bomsta for making connections with his students, and he says teachers like Bomsta who overcame hardships often resonate with students. After neglecting his studies early at Bethel, Bomsta applied himself and grinded enough to graduate with a 3.1 GPA. At Centennial, Kopp says Bomsta connected over that with a struggling student. “That kid actually responded really well,” Kopp says. Kopp also praises Bomsta for thinking creatively and using new technology to teach students, along with his strong grasp of math and classroom management. Along with his students, Kopp says Bomsta made positive connections with other teachers and staff members. He also reached out to administrators to build connections and receive feedback. “I think he brings a lot of joy to teaching,” Kopp says.

Working in a public school, Bomsta says he hopes his faith shows through his actions. “I’m hoping just how I am as a joyful person makes them see that something’s different about me,” he says. Johnson says Bomsta will be a successful teacher and a coach because he is invested in what does and will win the hearts of students and the people he’s around. “We need teachers badly, and we need ones like him,” Johnson says.

Study Education and Explore Athletics at Bethel. 

At Bethel, many students seek competitive excellence while seeking educational excellence. Bethel Athletics, students perform with a grateful of heart, through authentic relationships, and through a love of discipline required for a lifetime of service to Jesus. And Bethel’s Department of Education prepares teachers who will inspire the next generation. 

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