Taking our Youth UPWARD in SPORTS
Story By Julie Hales Photos By Susan DeLoach
Upward Sports is one of the world’s largest Christian youth sports providers. It is based out of Spartanburg South Carolina. Upward Sports is designed for kids in grades K5-8, offering four sports programs, basketball, flag football, soccer and cheerleading. This sports program helps young athletes create a passion for which ever sport they are involved in. Upwards promotes sportsmanship with a healthy competitive spirit.
For a children’s pastor looking to reach the kids in the community, sports is a great way to do that. Upward Sports is a great avenue to accomplish this goal.
Five years ago, Chris Lovelace was the children’s pastor for Praise Assembly of God. And, he knew that sports would be a good way to reach kids…sports had reached him at an early age as well.
“Sports played a big part in my life, since I was a kid on through my collegiate career. I had heard about Upward Sports before and begin to explore the opportunity to bring it here to Beaufort. In my research, I found out there was a church here in Beaufort already doing the program and doing it very well,” shares Chris.
Cornerstone Church in Beaufort was host for the program for years and it was under the leadership of Brian and Tammy Gates. “We partnered with Cornerstone Church, as they began to outgrow their current facility five years ago. Then, we started hosting Upward here at Praise Assembly,” Chris says.
Chris Lovelace has been in Beaufort for seven years. He is originally from Apex, North Carolina. He came to the lowcountry after being hired as the Children’s Pastor at Praise Assembly of God, where he currently serves as the Associate Pastor.
Chris is married to Donna Lovelace, who works for the Beaufort County school system. They have two children, Ben, age 6 and Sophia, who is 5 years old.
After spending the last 5 years working with the Upward Sports programs, Chris is proud to say that they have over 100 kids from the community involved each season. He says, “Our programs are open to all the kids in our community. They do not have to attend Praise Assembly. We have kids that go to other churches and some that don’t go to church at all. We want the community to know our doors are always open here at Praise Assembly.”
Upward Sports offers four sports: basketball, soccer, flag football and cheerleading. They currently offer soccer in the fall and flag football in the spring.
Upward Sports is very hands on with the kids. It is important to have enough people on board to make sure all of the kids are getting the proper guidance and instruction. Currently, the program has over 50 volunteers.
Chris has coached before being involved with Upward Sports in similar programs. “We are excited about the program here and are more excited about adding more sports over the years. Upward Sports is here to stay at Praise Assembly. There just isn’t another program that offers what this program does. Having only one practice a week and a one hour game on Saturday is attractive for the parents and is very family friendly. I feel that sports should be a positive experience for both the parents and kids and that is exactly what Upwards offers,” he adds.
Chris Lovelace is very passionate about Upward Sports. Chis Lovelace is very passionate about kids. He sums it up very nicely, “ I love working with the kids. It is great to help them develop and grow over the years. To know we have the opportunity as a church to impact these kids in a positive way is exciting. Hopefully, they will carry this experience with them throughout their life and sports careers. It’s exciting when some of them want to come back and volunteer when they are older and out of the program. “
For more information on Upward Sports, contact Chris Lovelace at