Testimony of Tennis Player Allie Wilson: Beyond Compare
In just two years at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, Allie Wilson has already made a name for herself as a marketing major, tennis player, homecoming queen and more. But above all else, it's her willingness to share Christ's love with everyone she meets that's given Wilson her own identity on campus.
"Allie's one of the boldest young women I have ever met," said Dayna Huckabee, FCA campus director at the University of Arkansas. "She has a zeal for Christ that is special and contagious. Allie has such a gift of connecting with people and showing compassion for them. Her life is such a sweet picture of what a Christ-like example should look like."
However, it wasn't always that way. In ninth grade, Allie was a rising athletic star, set-ting volleyball records at Greenwood (Ark.) High School while becoming one of only two freshmen in school history to be part of a state championship tennis team.
No matter what she did, however, Allie couldn't escape the shadow of her older brother, Tyler, a football and baseball star who's now a quarterback for the Tennessee Titans.
"We were both blessed with athletic ability, and my parents always gave me everything I needed," Allie said, "but, outside my family circle, everything I did was overshadowed by Tyler. He was being heavily recruited by every Division-I school in the country and was scouted by major league baseball teams as well."
The family traveled together on a seemingly endless number of official visits to schools that were recruiting Tyler. Everywhere the Wilsons went, fans peppered Allie with questions about her strong-armed sibling: "How's Tyler? Where's your brother going to go to school? Is he going to play baseball or football?"
It was incredibly frustrating for Allie-herself a talented high school athlete-who longed to scream out, "Hey, what about me!"
"I couldn't help but compare myself to my brother," she admitted. "I mean, his face was on the cover of magazines. More mail came to our house for him than for my parents, and it seemed like every conversation I had was about him."
All the attention aimed at Tyler left Allie feeling worthless. She began to search for acceptance and love wherever she could find it, and the best idea she could come up with-like so many at that age-was to turn to a boyfriend to "satisfy the hurt." For an en-tire year, she sought comfort and satisfaction through that relationship.
Allie also knew she wasn't walking the walk with her faith. Even though she was baptized at a young age, had been a part of FCA since junior high school, and attended church every week, she was aware that her actions did not reflect her words, nor Christ's teachings.
"I was hurting so badly," she said. "I was convinced in my mind that I'd never be as successful or as wanted by others as Tyler was. There were many nights filled with tears, because I just genuinely wanted to feel loved."
Despite her internal struggles, Allie-a self-proclaimed 'sophomore nobody'-accepted an invitation from Dr. Ken Hamilton, her high school tennis coach and Arkansas' former FCA Director, to speak at an FCA Game Day rally.
"What I didn't realize was, that day, in front of 1,300 high school students, God was going to transform my life," she said. "I remember exactly what I was speaking about that day, but what God had to say to me was completely different."
After being introduced as, of course, "Tyler Wilson's little sister," Allie's mind began to fill with questions.
Why are you in this position? Who are you? Do you know that what you are isn't what you say you are?
"Speaking that day was hard," Allie confided, "yet God spoke through me, even in my mess."
The moment she stepped off the stage, the outpouring of compassion and care Allie received was unbelievable. It was a reminder of the love she should have been seeking the entire time.
"Allie's faith is not just something she shares in front of others on special occasions. She takes her faith in Christ with her every day and shares it in every aspect of her life."
-Dr. Ken Hamilton, Arkansas' former FCA Director
"God grabbed a hold of me that day and said, 'Allie, you'll never find worth, love and acceptance to satisfy you on earth,'" she said, "'because I am worth, love and acceptance.'"
Through that experience, Allie was set free from the shackles of comparison and hidden depression. She ended the broken relationship with her boyfriend, began to spend more time with God and His Word, and found the one true love that could satisfy her. She dis-covered the truth of Psalm 139:14 and finally realized she was fearfully and wonderfully made.
"I was able to see the task ahead," Allie said. "It was time for me to step out of my brother's shadow and claim my own identity."
It didn't take long. Allie began to speak regularly at FCA events across the state, sharing her testimony and finally being recognized more and more by her own merits.
But with that came a new reality check. While it was great to peek out from Tyler's shadow, Allie soon realized it was getting to the point where she was full of herself. The true motive behind all the speaking engagements was to make her name known instead of the Lord's.
"It was to make something of myself," she admitted.
The message (and discipline) she received from God was simple, yet life-changing.
"He said, 'Stop claiming your own identity and start proclaiming Mine,'" Allie said. "It's by His grace that I have the opportunity to be used by Him to further the Kingdom through a testimony of unworthiness."
She also began to see Tyler's achievements, faith and work ethic as a roadmap instead of a burden.
"Looking back on the incredible work God has done in my life, I'm thankful He blessed me with a brother who set an example for me to be the best in whatever I do," she said. "It's just a matter of finding your own gifts and being content in God's calling for your own life."
After graduating from Greenwood, Allie, a four-time Arkansas state doubles champion, headed to the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith to continue her tennis career. She fit right in with the Lady Lions, going 5-3 (No. 6 Singles) and 10-4 (No. 3 doubles) as a freshman.
More importantly, she built deep, meaningful relationships with her classmates, Christian and non-Christian alike. Two of Allie's teammates went so far as to name her the "Person You'd Want to Be for a Day" in this year's Lady Lions media guide.
"They jokingly put that on there, but I sincerely believe it came out of a mutual trust and respect we have for each other," Allie said. "We simply love each other where we're at, and I genuinely cherish those friendships."
Recently, Allie's taken another bold step of faith. Following her freshman season, Allie retired from college tennis after being named a UA-Fort Smith Chancellor's Leadership Council mentor. She's also become more involved in FCA and has spoken at a number of FCA Game Days and Fields of Faith events.
"I've used Allie as a role model for FCA student-athletes because she lives her faith," Hamilton said. "Allie's faith is not just something she shares in front of others on special occasions. She takes her faith in Christ with her every day and shares it in every aspect of her life."
Read full article at Fellowship of Christian Athletes
Dave Pond is a freelance writer who lives in Kansas City, MO, with his wife, Heather, daughters Mallory and Kiley, and son, Benji.