By April Towery
He won over crowds in College Station as thousands of fans cheered the Aggie football team to victory. But ask Austin Frey about the most important moments in his life and you’re likely to hear about Jesus and working with kids and Frontier Camp.
Austin, a Texas A&M University football player, spent summers at Frontier Camp since he was 12 years old, gaining experience, acquiring knowledge and strengthening faith that prepared him for the future.
“I played over 40 football games with over 100,000 people watching – and millions more watching on TV – but I really only remember one or two of them,” Austin said. “What I can remember is every long-lasting friendship I have, every good conversation I got to have with a teammate and every teammate I got to share Christ with. I remember the quality stuff that no one really sees, not the stuff that is fun for a moment and gone in an instant.”
The deep snapper from Tomball played in all the Aggie games his sophomore, junior and senior years. He was voted “Mr. Dependable” at the Texas A&M annual banquet in 2018.
But long before his appearances at Kyle Field, Austin was playing sports at Frontier Camp. Many others in his family had attended or worked there, so he was thrilled at the chance to see what the hype was all about. After a few summers as a camper, he joined Frontier Camp’s work crew.
“It showed me so much respect for the behind-the-scenes people at camp, and what selfless service looked like,” he said. “I was not there for the money, but rather to give kids the chance to have a relationship with their Creator. Working a few weeks as a junior counselor gave me a passion to work with kids. I still have that passion today. I loved the genuineness of all the camp leaders and their ability to connect well with a 12-year-old camper or a 21-year-old counselor. Their genuine love for each person made it a place to call home.”
Like many who have gone before him, Austin noticed something special about the people who worked there.
“If the best thing you learn from Frontier Camp is how to wakeboard, it is only because you didn’t open your ears,” Frey said. “They have hired incredible counselors and staff that have the desire to love you and share with you the most important thing in the world.”
Austin’s career as a camp counselor ended in 2014 when he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join the Aggie football team.
“It was very hard for me to turn down a big summer at camp that I was looking forward to, but this was something I had been working so hard for over such a long period of time,” Austin said. “I still kept in touch with all of the staff there that summer.”
After his Aggie football career, Austin went on to try out at a rookie mini-camp with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I had an incredible weekend and the coaches loved me, but they did not end up signing me,” he said. “I am still training and working hard to chase after one more shot.”
But Austin would rather talk about Frontier Camp and his personal relationship with Jesus Christ than his experiences on the football field.
He still laughs about the work crew finding an old van that they named Sally – “it was a great bonding experience” – and meeting two friends at camp who later would stand next to him as groomsmen in his wedding.
“The times on the weekends and during staff training week with all of the staff were some of the most fun times I had,” he said. “They were such high-quality people.”
When asked what he gained from his experiences at Frontier Camp, Austin asks sincerely, “Where do I even begin?”
“I gained the ability to connect with people who were far different from me. Because of Christ I could relate to them,” he said. “I gained some incredible friends and relationships that I still have today. Most of all I gained a closer understanding of what Christ’s love for me looks like. He does not simply want me to follow His rules, but He desires a relationship with me. Even when I mess up terribly and think I am worthless, He doesn’t shame me but rather He says, ‘Come close to me, child, and let me comfort you.’ He is my true Father.”
As an Aggie freshman, Austin broke his foot after his third game and questioned why God would let that happen.
“Without my relationship with Christ, I do not think I would have made it out of college football,” he said. “He kept me grounded. I realized that God does not need me to be a star for Him, but rather to reach people wherever I am. Hurt, healthy, a star or a dud, God will use me wherever I am. There were for sure some times when I questioned if my faith was real or worth it. Being surrounded by such a tough group of people where sin is glorified and religion is looked at as something to add to your social media bio was the most challenging thing I had faced yet. Thankfully God put some amazing men on the team and in the coaches’ room to help keep me grounded and grow with me during my time at Texas A&M.”
Football isn’t a guaranteed part of his future, Austin says, but Christ will always be there.
“Lean on the God who will never leave you,” he said. “I encourage all who read this to make the most of the time you have with the people around you (staff/teammates/friends) because those are the things that you miss. I would take one more good conversation with one of my specialists on the team than one more OT win. There are plenty on conversations I wish I could have had, so make the most of the ones that are about to happen.”