After growing up in Kentucky, Danielle Thomas felt a calling to missions and chose to attend a Christian college in Tennessee, where she graduated with degrees in Humanities and Sociology. In 2010, she moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to begin working on a Masters/PhD in Sociology at LSU, which she will complete in December 2016. Danielle had already participated on several SportQuest projects at that point, which helped her discover a passion for sharing the Gospel through sports. While living in Baton Rouge, she really began to develop a heart for the Gardere neighborhood – an inner city community that has become synonymous with poverty and crime. Danielle began partnering with local organizations with a desire to bring hope and provide a “safe place” for youth caught in a troubled environment. In 2012, Danielle began serving as Project Coordinator for the first Baton Rouge PWP Project, which is where she met Debbie Cutshall. Debbie signed on as one of the project leaders that year, and, despite living in Tennessee, has felt called to return each summer since and help Danielle realize her dream of providing a safe place for troubled youth.
SQ Baton Rouge Co-Coordinator
In addition to writing and defending her dissertation at LSU, Danielle works in diverse local teams as she seeks to partner with several local organizations that provide after-school sports programs at a local park in Gardere. She works primarily with youth ages 6-17 as well as many mothers. Danielle is part of the coaching staff for the Gardere Packers youth football team, and she has partnered with some local ministries to start a soccer club. Her involvement in these teams gives her the opportunity to spend time with the kids, build relationships, and find different ways to serve them and their families, which includes everything from providing transportation or being a trusted mentor to taking pictures of community events. At other times during the year, Danielle and the organizations she partners with organize special one-day sport camps where volunteers from all over Baton Rouge come and provide coaching, assist logistically, and share the Gospel. Through these events, Danielle has seen many kids give their life to Christ and get plugged into local churches. Many of the kids Danielle works with on a daily basis attend the PWP Project that she and Debbie organize each summer. These projects increase Danielle’s platform to reach more kids and continue planting the seeds of the Gospel with them.
Danielle will be finishing her dissertation and graduate school in December, and then a new chapter will begin for SportQuest Baton Rouge. Danielle is not totally sure yet what that will look like, but she has some big ideas for the future. Growing and developing a local team of coaches and volunteers who will serve alongside her is one of her main focuses. She is also assisting several community organizations with building a training curriculum to help current coaches learn to do sports ministry. She also really has a heart to see a missional church planted in the neighborhood. Ultimately, her vision is to build a community center that could be home to several organizations in Gardere and provide a safe place for young people and families. This center would serve as an academic and athletic hub for the community and as a “home base” for Christian outreach in the neighborhood.