The whole moment was surreal.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock and the fans came pouring onto the field last September, I had a hard time believing what was going on.
Old Dominion didn't even have a football team just over a decade ago, and our program wasn't even playing at the FBS (1-A) level until 2014. And yet here we were, celebrating a 49-35 win over the #13 team in the country, Virginia Tech.
And even though it was surreal, there were thousands of people on the field to remind me that this was actually happening.
But if you had been in my shoes, you would have had a hard time believing it too. My name is Blake LaRussa and I was the quarterback the night ODU pulled off one of the biggest upsets in college football history. I actually still have a year left of eligibility, but I've officially decided to retire from football.
I'm hanging up the cleats to pursue seminary school and start my career in ministry.
It had been a long journey just to be on the field that night, but when the Lord called my name to ministry, there was no looking back. Sure, I love playing football here at Old Dominion, but my main priority is to follow God's calling. After all, He's the reason I ever got to step on that field in the first place.
(Photo courtesy of Old Dominion Athletics)
I actually got the call to ministry before the Virginia Tech game, but I just didn't know what to do at the time. I was sitting at the ODU library last March, just reading my Bible, when I felt the Lord speaking to me.
"I want you to go place to place."
When I heard those words in my heart, there was no doubt in my mind that God was speaking to me. In that moment I knew that this was what I wanted to do the rest of my life. I wanted to spend my waking hours preaching the Gospel, converting people, and showing people that God loves them.
When that phrase was spoken into my heart, I didn't know exactly what to do with it. I knew it involved ministry, and traveling, but at that point God didn't really provide me any specifics. I decided to keep playing football and going to class, just trying to soak in what God wanted me to do.
It was really when God spoke in my heart a second time that my future began to take shape. I had a dream in my heart about going to Kentucky, and when I woke up I went online and searched seminary schools in Kentucky. Sure enough, I came across Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, which had a Masters of Divinity in Itinerant Evangelism. If that sounds complicated, it's not....It just means I'll be getting a masters degree that specializes being a traveling evangelist.
The idea of more school was never something I wanted to imagine doing, even after God called me into ministry. Over time, however, the desires of my heart began to change. I had this unprovoked desire to go into seminary school midway through our football season. Something just months before I would have laughed at. It’s funny how God works and stirs in people. It’s also funny to me who He chooses to use for certain things. You see, most people never thought I would be a D1 quarterback, much less beating the #13 team in the country.
Title photo courtesy of Getty Images