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More Than an Athlete

Sports Chaplain Cindy White
  • Miriam Parish
  • September 8, 2021

While coaching women’s volleyball at the University of Texas, Cindy (Nero ASP ’82) White MA ’97 sensed God calling her to something greater. I love God and I love sports, she thought. Let’s see where God might work to connect the two.

Cindy played competitive sports in high school and community college before transferring to the University of Alabama, where she competed in a national volleyball tournament. After graduation, she served as assistant coach. Through the ministry of Athletes in Action and a sermon at The Chapel in Akron, Ohio, Cindy came to know Christ.

Believing her future lay in coaching, Cindy accepted a position at the University of Texas. But as a new believer, she sensed God calling her to do more. She wanted to build into the lives of coaches and athletes through Bible studies and ministry. “God had been very clear to me that I have a lot of passion,” she says. “But I lacked a biblical foundation and mentors in my life.”

Cindy applied to attend Moody Bible Institute for the one-year certificate program (then called the Advanced Studies Program). “I needed guidance from Scripture and the Spirit and people—community,” Cindy says. “Moody provided that for me.”

At Moody, no one realized Cindy was an All-American athlete. She remembers when someone asked her to referee a volleyball game in the old North Hall and wondered if she knew how to keep score. “Oh, sure, I can do that,” Cindy said with a laugh. “But that’s what was beautiful: nobody knew or cared. They just cared about me, not my sports. And Moody was where I grew some deep roots in my identity and faith.”

After earning her ASP certificate in 1982, Cindy joined the staff of Athletes in Action (AIA) at Indiana University. She remembers leading an early-morning Bible study for students. One of those students, Patty (Dunham ’90) Crull, started leading her own Bible study and would end up devoting her life to ministry, even attending Moody at Cindy’s recommendation.

Cindy served with AIA for 37 years, becoming the founder of the national women’s campus ministry. She collaborated with others to establish certification for sports chaplains. “We want a higher standard,” she says. In the late 1990s, she applied to Moody for more biblical and theological training, this time earning her MA in Ministry. As a result, she was able to offer more robust training for AIA staff and other sports leaders.

In 1992, Cindy was introduced to John White at an AIA event, not realizing that she had just met her future husband. “We had so much in common with life, ministry, and sports that the relationship moved quickly,” Cindy says. They were engaged at the Barcelona Olympics the same year.

Cindy and John share a passion for understanding how sports and culture intersect with Christian faith. In 2021 the couple launched what is now the Faith & Sports Institute, which features a high school summer retreat and online certificate courses. “It’s probably one of a kind in the world,” says Cindy, who serves as co-founder. “We help unpack, through a theological lens, what it means to be human and how we can help others grow toward Christlikeness.”

Cindy’s discipleship has had an enduring impact on many athletes. Patty Crull, who attended her Bible study years ago, served with CRU in Europe and later with her husband as missionaries in Germany. “Cindy challenged me to trust God, step out in faith,” Patty says. “Because of that, it really changed my life.”

About the Author

  • Miriam Parish

Miriam Parrish is an editorial assistant for Moody’s Marketing Communications team and will graduate from Moody in December 2021.