Game-Changers: Coach Flickner

Coach Flickner walks his team through a play during a time-out
"In our culture, there is a tendency to give glory to the athletes. When you combine that with our own human desire for self-glorification, there lies a real conflict of interest for Christians. Pushing against this tendency requires accountability, humility, and commitment to pursue a growing relationship with Christ.”
- Dr. Blake Flickner, DBU Head Basketball Coach

Athletics is an intense environment. Competition can run high as coaches seek to push every last ounce of effort out of an athlete, and athletes seek to push themselves beyond the limit. In such a high-stress, and oftentimes self-focused, environment, how can a Christian maintain their witness and still thrive?

This question fuels DBU Head Basketball Coach Blake Flickner.

Serving DBU faithfully for nearly 15 years, Flickner has led his teams consistently to higher levels of achievement. With 226 victories under his belt, multiple conference championships, and appearances in the NCAA Div II tournament, Flickner knows what it means to win.

Yet while the team’s excellent performance is certainly exciting, Flickner’s greatest influence comes from the time he invests in the lives of his players.

“I have always loved competition and in particular, basketball,” Flickner says. “However, in college I really felt a tug towards ministry. One day I caught a vision of how coaching could be a powerful ministry as well. “I entered coaching because I saw it as an opportunity to be active in the Great Commission while being involved in the sport that I love. It’s the relationships with young men and watching them grow in their faith that really keeps me going.”

Flickner’s coaching philosophy is derived from Colossians 1:28-29—“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.”

“I want to have the same heart that Paul did with my players,” Flickner explains. “Wherever our student-athletes are in their walk with Christ we want to see them grow in maturity. Sometimes that means evangelism to a student with little understanding of the Gospel. For others, it means coaching them on how to be disciple-makers themselves.”

The journey with one particular student stands out in his mind. Although initially unmotivated to engage in anything deeply spiritual, the player approached Flickner at the end of the season with a special request.

According to Coach, “Two weeks after his final season, he came to me and asked if I would start meeting with him to do a Bible study together.

“I’m so proud of him,” Flickner added, “and it’s a reminder that God can still take seeds of faith and make them grow.”

Through weekly bible studies, small groups, accountability, and intentional discipleship, Coach Flickner strives for those “light bulb” moments.

“The end goal is not winning a game or winning a championship,” he reflects. “Those are by-products that hopefully happen along the way. However, the true end goal is to one day stand before God with many men and women by our side that we have discipled along the way.”

“As God uses us, we want to be available to make eternal impact and eternal investments. When viewed in light of eternity, wins and losses, trophies and rings, all begin to fail in comparison.”

At DBU, we are privileged to have multi-faceted coaches just like Flickner. These talented and knowledgeable men and women love their sport but more importantly are genuine disciples of Christ who desire to disciple others.

These game-changers continually raise the bar of competition, by, in the words of Coach Flickner, “changing the narrative of what sports are about.”

“The wins are exciting and provide an immediate rush, but the only thing that has eternal value are the people involved and the growth of their mind and soul through their experience in the game.”

Written by Anna Catherine Bradley

Anna Catherine Bradley is a member of University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.