After losing a recruit to Arizona State in 2007, UAB baseball coach Brian Shoop had to decide quickly on another.
Nick Crawford from Evangelical Christian School in Cordova, Tenn., was on everybody’s recruiting list, but according to Shoop nobody was willing to take a chance on the infielder. He was generously listed on his high school roster at 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, and Shoop had never seen him swing a bat let alone field a ground ball.
“We never take a guy sight unseen,” said Shoop. “We brought him in on a Saturday and had until the following Wednesday to make an offer. We were undetermined leaving the office that Friday night how we were even going to approach the visit. Would it be an offer? Would it be just an introduction? Would we follow him during the spring first?
“We were in a scramble.”
That’s when inspiration struck.
That Saturday morning Shoop turned to the bible for his daily devotion. He also opened a book that his parents had given him.
“The book quoted the Soloman and David story,” said Shoop. “It was talking about how man looks on the outward appearance. ‘Don’t look on his outward appearance. God looks on the heart.’”
Shoop relayed that story to Crawford and his family when they met later in the day. Against his usual procedure, Shoop said “I think this is from the Lord” and offered Crawford a scholarship on the spot.
Crawford affirmed Shoop’s faith, playing four distinguished years for the Blazers, earning all-conference recognition and briefly returning to UAB as an assistant softball coach before going to work full-time in ministry.
“He is one the best players and people that I have ever had the privilege of coaching,” said Shoop.
“I have seen the hand of God involved in our program. How you can see God in recruiting is always amazing to me.”
Shoop’s faith-based approach to coaching earned him the 2015 Jerry Kindall Character in Coaching Award, presented by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes on March 3. The award is given annually to a college or high school coach who best exemplifies the FCA principles of character, integrity, excellence, teamwork and service on and off the baseball field.
“I am thankful for the (FCA) ministry that impacts student-athletes in so many positive ways,” said Shoop. ”We are a better society because of men like Coach Kindall and ministries like the FCA.”
Shoop’s list of baseball awards is as long as the 26 years he has put into the sport. He has been a conference coach of the year nine times. With 938 career wins, he is in the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He is the winningest coach at Birmingham-Southern, where he is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.
“Human awards are nice and they make you feel good,” said Shoop. “In the end I want Jesus to say, ‘Well done, you are a faithful servant.’”