Interview: Ryan Carpenter, Hockey Bowling Green Forward
"He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people for His own possession, eager to do good works." -Titus 2:14
Florida isn't exactly the ideal childhood setting for a future ice hockey career, but that didn't stop Bowling Green junior Ryan Carpenter, who started playing on the sunny streets outside his home in Oviedo. A move north and stops along the club team route landed him in Ohio, where his passions have changed from scoring goals to spreading Christ's message through his sport.
FCA: Growing up in Florida, how did hockey become your sport of choice?
RC: My dad was born and raised in New York. He never played hockey but was a fan, and through him I became a fan, too. Without ice in Florida, my friends and I played a lot of roller hockey in our neighborhood streets.
I eventually played on ice hockey club teams in Florida. During my sophomore year of high school I started to get more serious about it, so, to pursue playing in college and beyond, I moved in with a host family in Michigan during my junior and senior years. There are more opportunities in the north to be seen by scouts and develop against better competition.
FCA: How did your faith develop over that time?
RC: Our family went to church every Sunday. It was a priority in our lives. I accepted Christ when I was 13, but my relationship with God didn't really extend beyond Sundays. When I moved to Michigan, away from my parents, I started making poor decisions and wasn't living out my faith. If someone asked if I was a Christian, I would've told them yes, but my actions didn't say so.
That changed during my final year of juniors in Sioux City. When some teammates and I got in trouble off the ice, our coach recommended we go to church because, as he put it, "You guys could use it right now." His words stuck with me and inspired me to take my faith more seriously. When I got to Bowling Green, I met three guys through a local church who showed me what discipleship was all about. I could see they had such a love for Jesus, and they really challenged me to go deeper in my walk with Christ.
FCA: As the team captain, do you feel pressure to perform and be an example?
RC: It adds some pressure, but ultimately I know who I am playing for. If my identity were completely in hockey, someday it would fail me. My relationship with God has taken a lot of pressure off me to perform, and I've had a lot more fun and success.
FCA: How has FCA impacted your faith and your campus?
RC: It's been awesome to help lead FCA and meet other athletes with the same faith story. The biggest key, though, has been the constant discipleship and fellowship. That encouragement from others helps us all grow in our relationships with God.
FCA: What do you hope people see when they watch you play?
RC: I hope people see a passion and fire for Jesus. Of course, it would be awesome to hear people say that I'm a great hockey player, but I know that has no eternal significance. What does have eternal significance is the way I love and encourage my teammates and others.
I've always wanted to play in the NHL, but now I want that for a different reason. I'd love to be able to have that platform to tell young kids there's a God who loves them. There's something greater than playing in the NHL, greater than all the fame, and that's having a relationship with Christ.
FCA Staff Quote:
"Ryan is a true leader for Jesus Christ. His work with FCA on campus has been extremely impactful as he not only talks about what it means to follow the Lord, but lives it daily with passion and love. I look forward to seeing how God continues to work through Him both on and off the ice."
National Director FCA Hockey