Josh Nimmo '07

  • Josh Nimmo Instructing in UkraineBachelor of Science in Athletic Training

  • Owner and Head Coach at CrossFit MetroEast

  • Participated in a month-long mission trip to Ukraine with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA)

Josh Nimmo ’07 is passionate about fitness and his faith, but he never expected to travel halfway around the world to share them both with the people of Ukraine. In the midst of running his own CrossFit gym and planning a wedding with his fiancé, he felt called to join a group of area coaches in their mission to provide coaching and ministry to more than 250 Ukrainian athletes and coaches. 

How did you end up teaching CrossFit and sharing your faith in Ukraine?

A couple years back, I received a visit from an FCA Ukraine staff member interested in learning more about running a CrossFit gym. We developed a connection chatting about fitness and even talked about me someday going to visit him in Ukraine. Two years later, that turned into a reality when the MetroEast FCA approached me about an opportunity to serve the people of Ukraine.

As exciting as this opportunity sounded, I knew it would stretch my faith to follow through with this big of a mission. As an independent small business owner, leaving the country and my business for over a week would be trying. My fiancé and I were in the middle of planning our wedding.
On top of that, I had never left the country for ANYTHING. Now I was going to go across the world to a country that I knew little to nothing about and tell people who didn't even speak my language about Jesus.

What was it like to experience life in a different culture?

I was blown away. We went to a country where the capitol city was established sometime in the 6th century. Rivne, where I spent most of my time, was founded in the 1200s. Although the cities themselves have been established for quite some time, Ukraine is in its infancy as its own country.

Many of the sports we coached in the Ukraine are very new to the athletes there. Despite the teams’ limited exposure to American sports, their drive and work ethic were second to none.

What did this trip mean for you as a coach and a person?

The most memorable moment was when I got to minister to some junior high and high school boys after a few days of training them. I talked about my journey through sports and faith, we prayed together, and at the end, a few of the boys even thanked me for sharing my testimony. It was during this trip that I could feel God calling me to continue to serve him by impacting young men through coaching.

Another way it affected me was my confidence as a coach. Handling big groups of kids and adults in our gym can definitely be stressful. None of that is as stressful as walking into a gym with 20+ athletes, everyone waiting for you to lead them, and none of them can understand what you’re saying! I knew right then, if I could figure this out as a coach, I could do anything!

What were your main takeaways from the trip and what advice can you offer Americans on developing a global mindset?

Be grateful for what you have, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Many of the amenities and resources we have in the U.S. just aren’t readily available in other areas of the world. The teams and coaches in Ukraine were far less concerned about fancy facilities or brand new equipment. They just wanted to learn how to play their sports better!

Fitness is a universal language. I ended up coaching five classes a day to athletes who seldom knew what I was saying. At first I was overwhelmed. Once I decided to just be myself and coach how I always coach, the exercises did the communicating.

Many times we fear what we don't understand. The things someone eats. The way someone dresses. Or even the way someone worships (or doesn’t). I would just challenge us all to be less judgmental of someone not like you, and more inquisitive in finding out why.


Make It McKendree