By Valory Schoenecker
For Bucky Lindow, shaping young athletes into leaders of tomorrow isn’t a 9 to 5 job.
Lindow is a math teacher, head varsity baseball coach and an FCA huddle leader at Cannon Falls High School, and he often stays after the final bell of the day to pray with students and hosts Bible studies at his home on weekends.
His inspiration: To help as many students as possible – through sports – to develop a strong moral compass and root themselves in faith.
“When athletes compete, there is the physical, mental, and emotional part which people all understand, but there is also a spiritual aspect to it,” Lindow said. “What I’ve learned through FCA is that faith in Jesus Christ, and being able to go out and just play to glorify Him, kind of takes a lot of pressure off. So now you’re just going out there to glorify God and play for his audience of one.”
Lindow said that one of the most encouraging parts about being an FCA huddle coach is when students invite others to attend FCA events because they know there’s something valuable to share. Lindow understands that inviting high school students to a Bible study can be tough. That’s why Lindow’s FCA huddles are always centered around sports.
“It’s always a little easier in a sports environment because it’s something that they’re comfortable with. It’s easier to go out to a football game then it is to just introduce the gospel to someone just dry,” Braxton Lindow, Bucky’s oldest son, said.
During the winter, Cannon Falls’ FCA attendees play broomball or dodge ball. In the spring, they play wiffle ball, kickball or blindfolded dodge ball. The games are then followed by a Bible study or an inspirational guest speaker.
“It’s like the broomball game that hooks them in and the kid has fun doing it and then they get into the wisdom walks and now all of a sudden, they’re saying, ‘Hey, when can we do this again?’ And that’s what makes it a lot of fun because you know that the Holy Spirit is working in them,” Bucky Lindow said.
Lindow has three children: Braxton, 21, Quinton, 18 and Carleton, 16, who were all involved in the Cannon Falls FCA program throughout high school.
“He is the same guy at home as he is on the field so that was very encouraging for me because you don’t want to go home and wonder if you’re talking to coach or if you’re talking to dad,” Braxton said.
Braxton graduated from Cannon Falls in 2012 and is going into his junior year at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul. Quinton graduated from Cannon Falls in June and will join his brother at the University of Northwestern as a freshman this fall. Carleton currently attends Cannon Falls High School.
All three of Lindow’s sons were not only members of FCA, but each was also on the FCA student leadership team which is in charge of planning Bible studies, brainstorming fun events for students and encouraging students to dive deeper into their faith.
Since Cannon Falls High School has seventh through 12th graders all in the same building, the student leadership team welcomes boys and girls from grades 7-12 to join FCA.
For Cassie Anderson, a 2003 graduate of Cannon Falls, FCA went beyond sports and was a catalyst in developing meaningful relationships.
“I think FCA was a really unique way as a seventh grader to get to know some of my older peers, and to build friendships and relationships in ways that wouldn’t have happened because we didn’t have other classes together,” Anderson said.
Lindow said that he trusts the leadership team to give him feedback on events and to help him put together meaningful wisdom walks that students will benefit from. He meets with the leadership team every other Sunday to guide them through the FCA wisdom walk and then lets the team “marinate in it” for a week. The following Sunday is when the leadership team relays the biblical message onto the rest of the group.
“We had weekly Sunday night planning meetings and so it’s the level of commitment that (Lindow) had to us and to the program, I think, that was really meaningful,” Anderson said.
When it comes to coaching on the field or teaching in the classroom, Lindow is not allowed to use faith-based teachings to guide his lessons as a result of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of separating church and state.
“There has been this evolution of being able to speak in terms of faith and your faith in Jesus Christ but now you can’t do that,” Lindow said. “But that doesn’t mean you can’t coach biblically and you can’t use biblical principles like integrity and honesty. So I just try to teach kids how to be quality people. If there’s a time when I’m not a school employee and I get to share faith that way, then that’s great. FCA allows you to do that.”
Lindow has been teaching and coaching high school students for 28 years and has taught in the Cannon Falls school district since 1994. He took over as the FCA huddle leader in 1999, when the previous leader became the school’s athletic director.
“When I think back to FCA, (Lindow) just really had a strong faith and a commitment to sharing that with others and to helping teams grow in faith and learn more about how to be a leader, particularly in a culture that is maybe encouraging otherwise,” Anderson said.
Anderson is now one of two pastors at Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham, Minnesota. Her focus is to engage families and adults in relational ministry and to help people find a community within the church.
“It’s a lot of fun to help people see that they have a God who loves them and that they can be in relationship with one another because of that commonality,” she said.
According to Anderson, Lindow was instrumental in empowering her to to be a strong leader in faith.
For Braxton, having Lindow as a father and as a coach also influenced him to grow in his faith and to lead by example, especially since he has two younger brothers.
“There’s always a little more of responsibility being the oldest and that’s something that I don’t want to take lightly,” Braxton said. “They look to you after being in their shoes, so it’s kind of like you’re paving the way for them and it’s definitely taught me about leading by example and making sure that you’re portraying Christ in everything that you do because you never know at what time they might be watching.”
Braxton said that Lindow was always available after hours, after the school day or after baseball or football practice. “If someone wanted to talk to him or ask for prayer, he was always just available for that,” Braxton said.
Because of Lindow’s ability to dig deep into the gospel and to challenge his students to step out in faith and make a difference, his students have gone on to be Christian role models for others, just as he was for them.
For example, Braxton volunteered at an FCA leadership camp the past two summers and enjoyed spreading God’s word to the campers, especially amidst learning about the ups and downs of the camper’s lives.
“It was difficult to hear some of these kids’ stories because some of them come from great families and some of them come from tough backgrounds. Some kids have stories that you don’t really want to hear, you don’t think a kid should ever have to go through that,” Braxton said.
But these campers ultimately inspired Braxton. He saw that despite the harsh circumstances some of the campers live through everyday, God is working in all of their lives to bring them closer to Him.
“They’re all at different places but they’re all passionate about picking the Lord and trying to figure out what it means to live for Him,” Braxton said.
Bucky Lindow's favorite Bible verse is Colossians 3:23.
"That’s my life’s verse just because I want that reminder that whatever I’m doing, I’m going to do it with all my heart," he said. "And I want to do that because that’s what God wants me to do.”
The Lindows witnessed Bucky's impact in the community when their home burned down in 2012.
They lost everything.
But for months, different families in the community made meals for them, gave them clothes, and they received many gift cards and letters.
“It really showed the impact that he had on students and athletes because the letters that he got were from people that he taught or coached, or interacted with. It showed the kind of impact you can have as a teacher, coach or FCA leader in all the roles that he plays,” Braxton said.