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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Carlisle pastor swaps pulpit for American football pitch minutes after service

From the pulpit to the pitch – Andy 'Rev' Sturm is a busy man on a Sunday morning.

Andy Sturm photo
Andy Sturm in his American football kit

The dad-of-six is pastor of the Lighthouse Baptist Church in Denton Holme – and just 45 minutes after his morning service finishes he dons his padded shirt, shorts, helmet and boots ready for touchdown on the American football field.

Mr Sturm, 37, plays slot receiver for Carlisle’s new American football team – the Border Reivers – Cumbria’s only side. His team mates call him Rev.

Mr Sturm, who supports the Green Bay Packers, moved to Carlisle with his wife Amy and their family about six years ago from Cincinnati, Ohio.

He now lives in Warwick Bridge with his wife and six kids Brieanna, 12, AJ, 11, Blessing, eight, Noah, six, Eli, three and Emily, 18 months.

He said: “We loved it so much after spending a few days here that we decided to move over here. I came over for the Ministry – it was the Lord’s calling.

“Before I was a pastor I was a funeral director and embalmer for 10 years.

“When I heard about the team I decided to give it a go and have been training with them since about October.

“In the USA you grow up throwing a ball – in the UK you grow up kicking a ball.

“Most of the other men in the team are bigger than me. As slot receiver you have to have good hands to catch the ball and good agility. It can be scary when you’ve got 13 to 14 stone men running at you – you can feel a bit fragile.

"When I first went along to practice I wasn’t expecting to get into the team – I thought I was too old and I wasn’t sure how they would react with me being a Yank. They have all been absolutely brilliant and it’s a great atmosphere.”

The Reivers will compete in BAFACL Division 2 North against Clyde Valley Blackhawks, Dundee Hurricanes, Edinburgh Wolves, Glasgow Tigers, Highland Wildcats and West Coast Trojans. The season runs from April to August.

Mr Sturm, who plays in the No 30 shirt, said: “Inverness will be our furthest away fixture. I probably won’t be able to play in the away games as I have church on Sunday mornings but I’ll be able to play in the home fixtures.

“The family came to see me in a game at Loughborough and they really enjoyed it. It’s great to see the kids getting involved and cheering me on. I think the Reivers will do okay in the league. It will be hard because it’s our first season but there’s good commitment from the guys.”

The team train at Creighton Rugby Club on Sycamore Lane, Carlisle on Sundays from 1pm. All you need is a gum shield, football boots and a change of clothes.

Little Frankies has recently been named as the team sponsor but other sponsors are still needed to help the team travel to away games. To sponsor the team, or if you are interested in training, email cumbriabafl@googlemail.com

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