Timothy 4-12 reads, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” (NIV)
For EC Alumnus Preston Braswell (’16) this particular scripture passage speaks to him as he pursues a dream he once believed would take years to come true.
Preston was given the opportunity to not only coach but build the Regent University Golf program from the ground up. Preston believed he would have to wait years to achieve his dream of coaching at the collegiate level, but then the door that he once thought was closed tight, swung open.
“I met with the Athletic Director at Regent and with his boss while they’re considering starting new sports programs,” Preston said. “They’ve decided that in this first year I am going to be the head coach of a Club Golf team, and in the second year we’re going to infuse Golf into the NCAA and become a part of the Athletic Program at Regent.”
How did a 23-year old, recent graduate reach his ultimate goal so quickly? By trusting the process and believing that God has a plan for his life.
A Business Administration graduate of Emmanuel, Preston played Golf for the Lions and discovered his true passion when sidelined with an ACL injury during his junior season.
“I tore my ACL and then played a bit during my last year at Emmanuel, but when I wasn’t playing, I served as the assistant coach to Coach Eaton during my last year at EC,” Preston said. “I was still a player for the tournaments that I qualified for but when I had a break that allowed me the opportunity to try my hand in coaching. We have both a Girls and Boys team at Emmanuel, so when both teams were at the same tournament, I would coach one side while Coach Eaton coached the other.”
One of his favorite memories? Coaching the Women’s Golf Team in the National Championship in 2015.
“I was able to connect with some of my teammates almost in a caddy/player relationship trying to get their minds right when we were at tournaments,” Preston said. “I really enjoyed the mental and technical side of the game.”
Preston currently attends Regent University where he is pursuing a Master’s of Divinity with a concentration in Christian Theology.
But his passion for coaching hasn’t wavered, instead, it grew stronger as Preston has dedicated himself full-time to his niche ministry.
“My ministry isn’t necessarily within the four walls of a church but more so on campus, also infusing that with my love for golf, coaching and seeing people reach their potential,” Preston said. “I really think that golf and spiritual life go hand in hand. The life lessons you learn in golf can be directly used in your spiritual life and your walk with Christ.”
While in school, Preston works at First Tee Virginia Beach and spent the spring semester as the Head Coach for the Greenbriar Christian Academy Golf team. He views these experiences as opportunities to minister to youth through teaching student-athletes core values like honesty and integrity.
“Golf is a great sport to teach those core values as you truly are your own referee out there,” Preston said. “There’s no one watching, so you have to call a penalty on yourself and that’s how your spiritual walk is too. You go through each day with no one seeing what you do, but God does and that’s the most important thing.”
How will his coaching experience both at Emmanuel and through First Tee and Greenbriar Christian Academy help Preston once he begins his new role at Regent?
“Golf is a very individualistic sport,” Preston said. “So those experiences helped me in pulling teams together. When you have the mindset of shooting a good score to help the team, not just help yourself it brings a different dynamic to the atmosphere where you’re playing for your school’s name and team. Those experiences also helped me both logistically and administratively to organize hotel rooms, tournaments, and make sure we’re communicating with other coaches.”
What advice would Preston give to someone looking to go into coaching?
“Stay faithful to the little things,” Preston said. “If you trust in the Lord, doors of opportunity will open that we never could imagine and the Lord will equip us with strength to have the confidence to believe in ourselves.”
Preston thought coaching was a pipedream, something that would happen for him far into the future, but God had other plans.