November 23, 2019. Charlie Woerner spent one last Saturday in Athens playing the game he loved, football. One of Charlie's first experiences Between the Hedges was when Mark Richt, former UGA head coach, offered him a scholarship position. Charlie, joined by two of his brothers, Jack and Peter, answered, "Well, I'll have to ask my mom." I'm sure Charlie's reply wasn't exactly what Richt was looking for but he kindly chuckled, "I think that would be a good idea."
Charlie, a small-town boy, was shocked that a football program like Georgia would offer a scholarship to a simple guy like him. Although his mailbox saw many recruiting letters and his phone hosted conversations with some of the best college football has ever seen, this Georgia boy just couldn't imagine leaving his home state. With his mama's blessing, he committed and due to his lack of action on social media, no one really knew who he was until he showed up on campus in June 2016 (except me...oops).
November 23, 2019, was a special day for me. I met Charlie almost 3 years ago from that exact date and I promise you my life has never been the same since. What many don't realize is how much work, heartbreak, blood, sweat, tears, disappointment, celebration, tragedy, love, learning and growth happened between June 2016 and November 2019. You would never know it, but Charlie hasn't had the easiest or most glamorous college football career. His senior day was special to me because I know all that "behind the scene stuff". I've been there with him and lived alongside him through it all. On the field or off the field, Charlie has never complained. Sure, he's been frustrated, but never once truly complained. He embodies the phrase, "For the greater good" perfectly!
Also, you may not know it, but Charlie comes from a small family, he's one of seven. Charlie lines up at number six out of the seven. Day after day of the week leading up to the game he was so worried about having enough tickets for his family to get into the game and onto the field (All 15 of us). Family was one of the driving forces as to why he chose Georgia and he did everything in his power to make sure they were standing on that field with him before his last game in Sanford. Charlie is who he is because of his people. Coach Sinclair, the strength and conditioning coach at UGA, might get the credit for training Charlie, but I'd give full credit to his brothers and sister, Sally, for preparing him mentally and physically to make him one of the strongest and toughest. Rachael, the oldest, taught him how to be a strong and humble leader and Lucy, the youngest, prepared him with the most important quality, how to love others well. Needless to say, Charlie has been well prepared and to have every family member (Parents, brothers, sisters, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, nephews and niece) on the field in the pouring rain with him meant so much to him.
Oh, yes, I forgot to mention: The last home game in Georgia football's 2019-2020 season just so happened to be a DOWNPOUR. I mean it was raining all the cats and all the dogs! All week I was praying for God to pull off a miracle...hold the rain off, re-direct it or somethin', I just wanted God to work it! However, as I was standing on the field, completely soaked, waiting for Charlie to run out of the tunnel, all I could think was how fitting of a Senior Day it was. If I've learned anything at UGA (although, I promise I've learned much more), it's that when it rains...it pours! All of the adversity, cries, laughs, and frustrations seemed to wash away with every raindrop. Charlie's senior season has been tough, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. His preparation before the season was incredible, but nothing ever seemed to fall in his favor. I thought that's how his Senior Day was going to be too...the short stick, again. Then at half time, when the sun overcame the clouds and the darkness was overtaken by a perfect combination of reds, pinks and God's handiwork the Lord's voice came to life: "I've got him, Sydney...I'm taking care of him. My plan is far greater than yours." JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL. I was beaming ear to ear. Yes, God, you're good!
Football is temporary, but the friendships, discipleship, and memories Charlie and I have gained are eternal! While Charlie is nearing the end of his college football career his touchdown count remains at 0. However, the lives he has touched might just outdo Rodrigo's all-time score record (Go Rod!) and for that, I'm so thankful. Thank you, Lord for your sovereignty and undeniable work you've done in Charlie's life. I can't tell you all how thankful I am to become his wife and be on mission together.
Although my heart would jump out of my chest if Charlie did get a touchdown because I believe he is so deserving. I've come to realize that the character of God is best displayed in Charlie's overwhelming humble and selfless attitude and with that I say, Thy will be done.
P.S. Thank you to all who have supported and loved Charlie especially during the rain this past weekend!