Finding Solace in Worship. Richardson and Sattazahn balance it all.
Authors Thoughts: I have known Ben Richardson and Garret Sattazahn for a good couple of years now, having watched the former play baseball and the latter basketball, both at a high level.
Both are highly competitive athletes who leave everything on the diamond or hardwood.
I’ve watched Richardson faithfully volunteer to help out with the Torrington Unified Sports program or with the baseball camp run by his father, Pat (the THS baseball coach) and the legendary Gerry Carbone (the former THS head coach) each June with a genuine enthusiasm for teaching the next generation of great young people.
I’ve seen Sattazahn on the biggest stage we get around here, a State Tournament Championship basketball game at Mohegan Sun while making his hometown Wamogo Warriors proud each time he stepped on the hardwood.
Each handle themselves with a polite confidence that drives them in everything that the do.
Little did I know that part of the reason these young men are so well grounded is because of another community they belong to. The community available at the Friendship Baptist Church in Litchfield.
Both are heavily involved and dedicated to the church which is a delightful place to visit and be surrounded by a truly caring group of individuals from all walks of life.
What struck me when I recently started attending was the number of teenaged (13-19) kids I saw throughout the high-energy, positive feeling church up on Route 202 just outside of Torrington.
Led by an equally energetic Pastor in Todd Goulet, the Friendship Baptist Church seems to serve the big picture needs of those who attend.
When I first saw both Richardson, Sattazahn and their friends in attendance and engaged, it struck me that they were existing in two very different worlds at the same time and doing it really well.
I’ve seen how hard these kids compete. I’ve seen them be upset on the field or court but didn’t realize they had another advantage over some of the kids they competed against. They had their faith and it’s engrained in them.
Below are their thoughts on why they find faith and being part of this church helps them in so many ways.
How and when did you get involved with Friendship Baptist Church?
I have been involved with Friendship for most of my life. When I was very little I used to be in the children's choir, and my mom has pictures of me walking up in front of the other kids and taking the microphone all for myself and singing. Even though my family went and planted a home church a few years in between, I really have spent most of my life in the church.
I got involved in the Youth Group and the church as soon as I moved to Connecticut in 2015
What has it brought to your life?
Friendship Baptist Church has brought to me more than any other aspect of my life. Not only have I created friendships which will last a lifetime, but I also learned about the love that God can give me which is unfathomable. Knowing that His son died on the cross for me means more to me than anything else.
It has brought me community when I had none when I first moved here. It gave me friends and those who loved me right from the start. It also gave me friends who would keep me accountable in my walk with Christ
How did it help you in high school and in sports?
I stress out a lot before every game (which is probably why I get so fired up during the games) but before every game I like to pray and take a deep breath. Knowing that no matter what happens, it is part of God's plan and He will take it to make me better is so comforting.
Just knowing that God was with me the entire time always guiding me in everything I did on and off the court. I never got nervous on the court because I knew he always had a plan for me and his plan was always going to work together for my good.
In a world where the distractions are so great, how does your connection through the church help you?
Distractions are certainly great, but the church is a great place to get away from it all. I know that when I go there, all of the issues in my life don't matter. My friend Sam and I have developed an awesome friendship through the church and when life gets hectic, we often meet up to help each other go through it and remember who should be in the driver's seat of our lives.
Having connections with friends and adults in the church really helps me stay grounded in the sense that they keep me accountable for my actions. They guide me along my walk with Christ. Without my church family I don't know where I would be today.
Talk about the trips you have taken with other student members of the church.
Every summer the youth go up to Roger Williams University for a weeklong camp called Crosswalk. It is an awesome experience and is a great refresher in the summer to spiritually prepare people for the school year coming up. The best trip I have ever been on with my church was going to Scotland. It was such an eye-opening experience to see how similar yet different people are.
We go on youth retreats twice a year and those are great trips to unwind and really connect with others and Jesus Christ! For the weekend you just get to focus on Christ and growing in your relationship with him. It’s very refreshing and it empowers you to reach out to others about Christ
Preacher Todd seems like the genuine real deal. Talk about your relationship with him.
Pastor Todd is such an amazing person. I am not going to lie, him and I do not have many similar interests or anything like that. I love sports, and he for some reason thinks Nascar is a sport. While we are different, every time I see him, he says hello and asks how I am. The personal relationships he has with every person in that church is one of the reasons it is thriving. He is truly an ambassador for God.
He has been my pastor and shepherd for the past four years. He is one of the nicest guys I have met and he also is one of the best pastors I have ever had! He is leading his church the right way and preaching the Gospel and I couldn’t be more grateful for him! Through his words I have grown closer to Christ over the past four years.
Your mom and dad are tremendous people. Talk about how you see them.
My mom and dad are the biggest role models in my life. I get overwhelmed looking at my life and seeing how blessed I am to have them as my parents. There has never been a time where they haven't supported me. I feel like I can talk to them about anything and they will be there to give me advice (even if I don't want to hear the truth sometimes.) I love them so much and wouldn't be half the person I am now if it wasn't for them. I owe them every success I have. I also love my sister Shanley, who would be mad if I didn't include her.
My parents are the best parents I could have ever asked for! They have raised me up in a Christian home, they have taught me respect, compassion, and love. Without them I wouldn’t be the young man I am today! I love them and am so grateful for them!
How long have you known Garrett?
I have known Garrett since he came to our church around 4 or 5 years ago. He is an awesome athlete and a great person, and I wish him nothing but the best as he puts Gordon Basketball on the map.
I have known Ben for four years
How do you see your role in the church continuing in the future?
While I will be at Friendship in different periods of time because of college, I still want to continue a leadership role in the youth group, as I was able to do previously before I left for Cairn. I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I hope to stay connected to the church that means so very much to me.
When I come back from school, I will continue to attend Friendship. I will try and get involved in some of the church ministries such as Vacation Bible School and the Soup Kitchen Ministry in Torrington.