Faith Guides Kunaszyk to Excel on and Off the Field
Widely known for his defensive leadership role on the Bears, senior inside lineback, Jordan Kunaszyk also creates a presence off of the field that should be recognized, as well. Though being a student athlete at Cal requires hard work athletically and academically, Kunaszyk is always sure to incorporate his faith in his everyday life.
“I’m part of a Christian leadership group of young athletes called Athletes in Action. Basically, we have a football bible study every Monday. AIA is like a little service where you worship and really get to hear the messages of the bible,” said Kunaszyk.
Teammate, James Looney, had also been a part of AIA last year. Kunaszyk explains how, after the football season had ended, he had asked Looney to go and grab some lunch.
“I asked him, ‘So, what’s next for you? Are you going to Florida?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, I am going to Mexico with AIA’. Then, he asked me if I wanted to come and I said, ‘When are we leaving?’ and he said, ‘tomorrow.’” said Kunaszyk.
After that, he called his mom and asked her for her thoughts regarding the choice to go on the trip. She responded positively and encouraged him to attend. The following morning at 5 am, the two got up and drove to Arizona, then Mexico with their group.
“The area we went to had very bad poverty," said Kusaszyk. "The houses that these people lived in were like shacks. The conditions were just really bad, so to be able to give to them was amazing.
"We built a lot of things and fixed up a nursery. We interacted with the children and played sports with them. There was definitely a language barrier because I don’t speak any Spanish, but it was really cool how you don’t need to be speaking the same language in order to feel an emotional connection with someone. It was really great to be able to give back to a community that needs our help.
Before Kunaszyk had known about this opportunity, he had originally made plans to go home and had plenty of training sessions coming up. Knowing this trip would set him back physically made his decision to attend slightly more difficult.
“It was tough because, I worried that being in Mexico for a week would mess with my nutrition and all that but then I really tapped into my mind and thought of the impact I would be making to this community if I went.
"I am so happy I did. It was truly a great experience,” said Kunaszyk.
The trip to Mexico required a tremendous amount of hard work. Looney and Kunaszyk assisted the community in putting up dry wall, building fences, painting walls, repairing broken structures, etc. However, through it all, Kunaszyk claims he was always having fun.
“Not at any point did I feel like I should have been paid for the work I was doing. Looney and I were swinging an axe, trying to dig holes and I just was having fun. At that moment, it all felt right and it felt good. I didn’t ever think about myself; I thought about the community, giving back, and putting smiles on people’s faces,” said Kunaszyk.
Because the trip was centered around repairing the community, Kunaszyk believes that giving back to others truly builds bonds with people. He is happy to have maintained friendships with several people that he worked with in Mexico.
“On that trip, Looney and I became best friends. Being there for a good cause really bonded us and I got to connect with a lot of the other student athletes that were there, as well. I actually reflect on this trip all the time. Last Wednesday, I shared a little about myself at AIA and told them about how my trip to Mexico made a big impact in my spiritual growth,” said Kunaszyk.
After returning, it is clear that Kunaszyk considers this experience to be one that will last a lifetime. He explains how grateful he is for the life he is blessed to have.
“I have food on my plate, a great house, air conditioning, and a bed," said Kunaszyk. "In Mexico, these kids don’t have anything. It puts your life into perspective. It feels really good to do God's work and to be down there giving back to a community."
Originally appeared on https://bearinsider.com/s/732/faith-guides-kunaszyk-to-excel-on-and-off-the-field