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Julie Goodenough, Abilene Christian women's basketball

"We want to go in and be the light of Jesus."

Published on March 01, 2018

by FCA

This story appears in FCA Magazine’s March/April 2018 issue.

 Haskell, Texas

Coaching career:
• Abilene Christian
• Charleston Southern
• Oklahoma State
• Hardin Simmons

• FCA's Kay Yow Heart of a Coach Award Recipient (2017)
• Southland Conference Coach of the Year (2016)
• Lone Star Conference Coach of the Year (2013)
• Hardin Simmons Hall of Fame inductee (2007)

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." — 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Over the past two decades, Julie Goodenough has found creative ways to incorporate Scripture into coaching. At Abilene Christian, each player selects one word — coupled with a Bible verse — that will serve as their motivation during the season. The day before each game, one player shares their word and verse. By the end of the season, Goodenough's players have internalized almost 20 verses that impact their lives on and off the court.

FCA: How do you share your faith with your team?

JG: We talk a lot to our players about having the words of the Lord in your heart, so that when you're in some particular situation, that's what comes to your mind. We have a mentor program where all of our players tell us about their dream jobs. Then we find Christian women in Abilene who have that job or are in that career path — or at least something very close. We then match those women with our players. It gives our players an adult, female, Christian role model in the community who they can become friends with and eventually use as a resource for that dream job they're trying to get.

We also have team chapel every Thursday morning. We just meet in our locker room, but we try really hard to keep that from being about basketball. We try to just carve out that time to talk about Jesus and talk about topics that are relevant to maybe something our team is going through

FCA: What advice would you give coaches about incorporating faith into their program?

: My line of advice is, "A lot of Jesus for your players, without ever saying Jesus." Just be the most positive adult in their lives. There are times when we have to be critical, but it doesn't mean you need to do that in a demeaning way. My staff and I, we do not use foul language. We think that's very negative. I would encourage coaches to not talk down to your players. Make sure you are an encourager.

We've won back-to-back conference championships. We're not soft on our kids by any means, but we do try to highlight things they do well. We just choose to be positive and optimistic, rather than negative or sarcastic. We tell our players all the time we want to go into an arena and play the game in such a way that people think when we leave, "Man, there was something different about that ACU team." We want to go in and be the light of Jesus

FCA: How has your family been an encouragement to you in your profession?

JG: I get so engrossed in my job, and I am very, very fortunate that my husband, Rob, and my daughters, Bailey and Macy, are so supportive of my team. They've always been that way. I could not do this without Rob. There's absolutely no way. And my daughters have just grown up in this. I was a head coach when I was pregnant with both of them. They just have the sweetest spirits. They feel like they have several hundred sisters whom they got to know through this experience.

FCA: What do you hope your players say about you?

JG: I hope people remember that we try to do things the right way. My staff and our players, we try to lead lives of integrity and just be godly women, striving for excellence in all areas of our lives. I love my players.

I hope they all look back on their time playing for me and just know that they were loved. I think I'm just focused on leaving a legacy of integrity, just striving to do things the right way.

FCA Staff Quote:

“Coach Goodenough's faith is strong, and it's not just a part of her life; her faith is her life and it's impossible to know her and not see Jesus in everything that she says and does.”

— Lisa Coleman
FCA Area Representative
Abilene, Texas


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Photos courtesy of Jeremy Enlow/ACU Athletics.