Walnut Grove R-V High School in Walnut Grove, Missouri rescheduled boys’ basketball and baseball games for the 2022-2023 season to accommodate four Sabbath keeping players.
Rhett, Landon, Tanner and AJ are all members of the Springfield Church and attend Walnut Grove R-V High School.
Walnut Grove is a small public high school with less than 100 enrolled students, according to Usnews.com. With so few students, the boys were encouraged to join the school’s sports teams.
“They saw us big, tall guys walking around, and they were like, ‘Hey, come play basketball’,” Tanner said.
The boys agreed to give sports a try but knew that some games may conflict with the Sabbath. The boys decided the Sabbath was important for them to keep and they told their coaches they would not be able to play from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.
“Right off the bat when I went into sports, I told the coach … I wasn’t going to change that I couldn’t play on Friday nights or Saturday,” AJ said.
The boys said the coaches have been understanding and supportive of their decision.
“They’re alright with it … they don’t give us too much of a hard time about it,” Tanner said.
The boys haven’t faced criticism from classmates or teammates. Instead, the decision not to play on Sabbath has sparked conversations.
“Coaches, players, they ask us all the time what we believe in,” AJ said.
The high school’s boys’ sports teams are small, with the four boys accounting for half the team. Because the boys do not play on Sabbath, the team is not large enough to play without them.
“I mean, we are like half the team. So, when we’re not there, there’s a big gap, and they have trouble finding people who can play those nights,” AJ said.
This has caused the team to forfeit a few games, but the boys said their teammates haven’t been upset with them.
Last year, the boys’ basketball team made it to the championship round. The game was scheduled for Friday evening, and the boys were all a little nervous because it was the first time the team had made it to this round in a while. However, a winter storm came through when the game was scheduled and pushed the championship game back, so it didn’t land on Sabbath. Because of the weather, the boys were able to play for the championship game.
“God has really worked it out for us,” AJ said.
When asked why they have decided to take a stand for the Sabbath, the boys’ answer was simple.
“You’ve got to stand for what you believe in,” Tanner said.