I was born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1955. We lived near the Iowa State Capitol. Railroad tracks separated our home and the Capitol. We played near the tracks and on the Capitol grounds, plus at the Iowa historical museum nearby. Inside the Capitol, there were Civil War flags and uniforms. Occasionally, we would see Vietnam war protesters at the Capitol. They would sing protest songs and hold signs near the outdoor monuments.
I went to Dunlap Elementary through the sixth grade. In the fifth and sixth grades, Dunlap would take students on field trips to the Drake Relays. This was my first experience with world-class track and field. In the summer of 1968, we moved to Northwest Wisconsin near Danbury. I attended junior and senior high school at Webster, Wisconsin. I was an average student until I decided to get serious during my tenth grade year. I started running cross country in the fall of that year.
Upon graduating in 1974, I had straight A’s for the last three years of school and decided to go into the medical field. I enrolled in the pre-med program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A month before graduation, I started drinking and quit running. Before this I had drank a little with an occasional marijuana joint. From that moment on, my life was on the way down. I started smoking pot every day which led to other drugs. Eventually, I started doing hard drugs. My life was spinning downward fast.
I went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and my partying increased in the fall of 1974. The counterculture movement was in full force. War protests, cults, various movements, and drug use were common on campus. There was a big void in my life. The Lord was trying to reach me. During a pot smoking session in a dorm room, a friend looked at me and told me that I needed the Lord. He was not even a Christian.
One day after partying the night before, my life hit rock bottom. I did not want to live. I did not go to my classes but walked around campus. I was near suicide and contemplated jumping off the sixth story from my dorm. As I was walking through the Memorial Union on campus, a guy was handing out the gospel of John. Most people were avoiding him. I walked right up to him and took one. A few weeks before this, another guy shared the Lord with me in my dorm room. He was reading the Bible to me as my room was filled with pot smoke. I listened but thought the guy was a nerd.
I went back to the dorm and read the gospel of John. I felt a peace and asked God for help. I did not become a Christian at that time. I had met with psychologists on campus and eventually with religious leaders but they did not help.
I quit school and loaded my VW Beetle up and went back to Northwest Wisconsin. Eventually, I went back to college at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. I started running again and my grades went back up. I had quit drinking and doing drugs for the most part, but my life was still empty. I got involved in the New Age Movement. I would meditate for hours in the same position. Still, I did not have peace despite searching many religions and studying the occult.
I was questioning everything and made fun of the Christians on campus. One day, I picked up a New Testament at the Rothwell Student Union that was on a table. I read it from cover to cover and felt God’s peace. After going to Daytona Beach, Florida for spring break, I prayed to receive the Lord at the University of Wisconsin-Superior in March 1976 before transferring to Minnesota State University, Mankato.
The Lord healed my mind and allowed me to graduate with honors from Minnesota State University, Mankato (BS-Public Health) and Western Kentucky University (Master of Public Health). I had the grades and one class to take, but decided not to go into medical school. Instead, my wife Liz and I started in world-class track and field ministries in 1981. The ministry expanded to all sports in 2014.
Steve McConkey is the founder and president of 4 Winds Christian Athletics (4WCA), a ministry that stands up for Christian athletes. Steve regularly appears on worldwide radio and is frequently quoted in articles throughout the world. He has a Master of Public Health from Western Kentucky University with honors. Steve and his wife started in world-class track and field ministries in 1981 and expanded to all sports in 2014. Steve was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but moved to NW Wisconsin after the sixth grade. He became a Christian after reading the Bible as an undergraduate. 4WCA produces BigPlanetWatch.com.
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