GOLIAD—Setting goals and working hard to achieve them is a strategy high school senior Ty Ross has clung to for years. Since sixth grade, his biggest goal has been to play college football, and the church family has been by his side to cheer him on.
A few weeks ago, dreams came true for the defensive end as he committed to play for the University of Mary Hardin Baylor (UMHB) Crusaders in the fall.
Ross' small hometown, Goliad, is home to less than 2,000 residents. His graduating class will walk around 100 seniors. Along with the support of his parents, he acknowledged the valuable encouragement that he has received from his church family at Minnehulla Baptist Church in Goliad.
"There are hard times when you're playing football," Ty said. "You get down on yourself, go to church, and everybody is still cheering you on…They're always there to pick me back up."
Ross' mother, Kristal Ross, said the close-knit church family takes value in its youth and is always well represented at sporting events, cheering from the sidelines.
"These kids are important to church members because they are the future," she said. "They want to make sure they're headed down the right path…so they try to show the kids, 'We care and we support you,' and I think that goes a long way."
Reverend Ira Antoine, pastor of Minnehulla Baptist, said UMHB was a prime choice for the senior.
"Ty going to UMHB will help hone his Christian values as well as better equip him to be an ambassador for Christ after graduation," he said. "Also, the recruiting staff and coaches were very genuine and supportive of Ty's overall goals of academics and athletics. This speaks to the values that our Texas Baptists schools have in the student."
UMHB is one of several private institutions that partners with Texas Baptists. They each provide a faith-based learning environment in which students are challenged in their field of study and encouraged to apply their faith in their chosen field.
The church has not only spiritually supported Ross through prayer and words of encouragement, Antoine said, but has also awarded him the Ruby Lee and Ronald Edwards scholarship, which will financially aid him in his first year of school.
Ross will begin studying for his bachelor's degree at UMHB in the fall, where he will strive toward achieving another goal of possibly playing for the NFL one day.
"I thank God each and every day that I'm blessed and able to play this game and go further on in life," he said.
His mother proudly said Ty will be the first in the family to attend a major university.
"In my eyes it's a blessing because we've always told Ty, as long as you work hard, God will reward you in the end," she said. "Now he has an awesome opportunity to get a great education and continue to play football."
UMHB is one of nine private universities, which partners with Texas Baptists. To see a full list of those institutions, visit texasbaptists.org/institutions.