“Looking back, I see God’s plan for me and how His hand was in everything. It was just the beginning of a greater plan He had for me than I had for myself.”
For Eddie Fontaine, the allure of a spiritual environment and a Christian community weren’t even on his radar as he accepted a scholarship to play basketball at Oklahoma Christian.
“I just thought that I’d play basketball for a couple years and then probably move back to England to continue playing there,” Eddie said. “Never did I expect that playing basketball at Oklahoma Christian would bring me to where I am today.”
At age 20, Eddie was on a London team, but was attending various camps in the United States. OC head coach Dan Hays discovered Eddie through an old college teammate, who coached Eddie’s team, and Coach Hays had an open scholarship. You might call it a coincidence, but Eddie believes it wasn’t so coincidental.
“Looking back, I see God’s plan for me and how His hand was in everything,” Eddie said. “It was just the beginning of a greater plan He had for me than I had for myself.”
It also began Eddie’s transition from a rowdy kid who just wanted to play ball into a committed Christian man. Coach Hays seeks to develop his team not just as basketball players, but as Christian young men. That approach played a key role in Eddie’s transition.
“I began to explore my faith and question things about what I had been taught and my relationship with God began to grow,” Eddie said. “The people I was around were interested in much more spiritual things than I had been involved in. Through their example and influence, my interests began to transition. I could have just grown up as another guy who paid bills and just went through the motions, but that’s not what God intended for me.”
Eddie’s future wife Sonja was another Godly influence. His roommate, Jim Bond, ministered to Eddie and eventually baptized him. Eddie’s teammate, Bill Pink, also helped Eddie grow in his faith. They became best friends and even served as “best man” at each other’s weddings.
After their respective senior years (in which they both earned Academic All-America honors), their lives took them in different directions. Eddie became a successful graphic designer, but he realized he had a passion for helping young people. He taught graphic design for a while before devoting his life to counseling teenagers.
Bill taught education at Oklahoma Christian before working as director of women’s basketball operations for OC alumna Sherri Coale, the head coach at the University of Oklahoma. He now works as the associate dean of the University of Central Oklahoma’s College of Education and Professional Studies.
Bill treasures the friendship formed in the Eagles’ Nest years ago, and he sees God’s power in Eddie’s story.
“Eddie and I consider each other family to this day. It was a relationship that began growing on a basketball court years ago,” Bill said. “Eddie’s story is just a realization that something like basketball in a community like Oklahoma Christian can be a powerful ministry.”
By Scott Hill