By Bill Sorrell
Contributing writer, B&R
ARLINGTON — Tate Kolwyck is a multi-sport star at Arlington High School and has signed to play baseball with perennial national power Vanderbilt University in Nashville. But there is more to Kolwyck than just his impressive on-the-field accomplishments.
An active member at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Kolwyck uses his success in sports as a platform to demonstrate his faith.
“I think God has given me the talents to inspire others, to follow His way, and use me to push out the Word,” he said. “Which I am going to try my hardest (to do).”
Kolwyck wears an “I Am Second” bracelet, which is a popular way among athletes to send the message that Jesus comes first in their lives.
“Jesus means everything,” said Kolwyck. “He is the reason why we are here. He died for our sins so we could have a wonderful life and get to heaven one day. There is no greater thing somebody could do for you. I get overwhelmed thinking about it. It’s awesome.”
One of Kolwyck’s goals at Vanderbilt, which has been his favorite team since he was a child, is to grow “with God and keep my faith up. I want to trust what God has in store for me. God has a plan for you. It is trusting the Lord with all your heart, just never straying away from the plan in good times and bad.”
By the time Kolwyck’s prep football career had ended he had passed for a school-record 10,213 yards, 119 touchdowns, rushed for 859 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is only the third player in the state to pass for more than 10,000 yards. He was Region 7-6A Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.
On the baseball field, he plays shortstop and is a four-year starter. He was all-state last season and played in a state championship game as a sophomore in 2016. He batted near .400 with seven home runs in 2017. His goal is 20 homers this season.
Bethel University sophomore pitcher Hayden Edwards, who along with J.P. Funk took Kolwyck under their wings at Arlington, described Kolwyck as “the best baseball player I have ever seen. He plays with grace, passion, and love. If anyone deserves to be at Vanderbilt then hopefully the MLB (Major League Baseball) it’s him. Tate is going to excel to heights no one could imagine. I have no doubt that Vanderbilt is going to be champions multiple times in the next four years.”
Kolwyck said baseball is a gift.
“I love football — but baseball is my everything,” he said. “God has really blessed me in this game. I fully trust Him. You are not going to get anywhere if you don’t trust in God no matter what you do in life.”
An honor roll student, he has a 4.2 unweighted GPA and 4.0 weighted.
“I value my grades. I try really hard in the classroom,” said Kolwyck.
Kolwyck, 18, said he tries to live his life with biblical principles, regardless of the circumstances.
“I try to be the best to everybody that I can no matter what day I am having,” he said. “I want to make sure everybody has good memories of me and they see me as somebody they want to follow to show them the way.”
His parents Johnny and Julie Kolwyck, who are Bellevue members, encourage him in his faith and athletics.
“My parents tell me to trust the process and trust in the Lord, follow His plan in everything, to walk with the Lord,” he said.
A verse that “fits” him now he said is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Calling Kolwyck a competitor, team player, and coachable, Arlington High School head football coach Adam Sykes said Kolwyck brings strengths of integrity, leadership, and unselfishness.
“He is honestly one of the nicest and most polite young men that I have ever had the opportunity to coach,” Sykes said. “He gets along with everyone and is always positive. I’ll miss the humble, generous, polite, and honest young man that he has become. He truly lives his life through the Golden Rule.”
Football and baseball teammate Hunter Goodman said Kolwyck “knows he is good but doesn’t show it. He is a friend to everyone. He stays humble. I see the way he carries himself through failure and success. He doesn’t lose faith when he is doing bad or when he is good. He stays calm through adversity.”
Baptized at age 7 at Leawood East Baptist Church in Memphis, Kolwyck went to Bellevue through the encouragement of Funk, who now attends the University of Tennessee, and Edwards.
“I remember going to youth group and it was so fun,” said Kolwyck.
With faith vital to both Funk and Edwards, they wanted Kolwyck to have that opportunity.
“I think Tate knew God and that he was saved but I think having the atmosphere at Bellevue was big for him,” said Edwards.
Arlington senior Sam Pope, who played football with Kolwyck, observed that “Tate’s walk with the Lord has been something I’ve looked up to in him since freshman year.
“He has stood firm through not only trials but fortune too. No matter the circumstances, he showed there is always a way to be optimistic,” said Pope. “He has an amazing sense of compassion.”