Paralegal Laura Yannazzo may investigate facts, conduct research, organize documents, gather evidence, and write reports for lawyers among many other facets of her job at the State of Tennessee, Bureau of TennCare, but after she hangs up her briefcase for the day, she goes into "double agent" mode.
"When I walk into the halls of a public school, I feel like a double agent, like I'm on a mission from God," says Laura, who is serving in her second season as FCA Character Coach for the Blackman High School girls volleyball team. "That's my favorite part of being an FCA Character Coach. There's truth in that statement. When I walk through those doors with the umbrella of FCA, I get to be up close and personal with players, coaches, and EVERYONE I come in contact with. It's an amazing privilege that I do not take lightly."
"FCA is in itself a team, she continues. I love that we bond together for the kids we minister to, without boundaries, for the focus of these players to be brought to Christ."
Laura had been a volleyball referee in the past, but says she missed being able to be "hands on" with the girls on the teams. Just before the opportunity to serve with FCA occurred, she had been praying about missing "my girls." That week, she saw the movie, Woodlawn. About a week later, FCA was a featured ministry at her church and she saw FCA's Chel Dill, area representative for Character Coaches and Teams, speaking about the blessings of being a FCA Character Coach for teams in the Middle Tennessee area. So the accumulation of her prayer to be more active in people's lives, seeing the Woodlawn movie, and hearing encouragement from Chel led to Laura wanting to be a FCA Character Coach.
And what a wonderful FCA Character Coach she is! Laura says much of her testimony is forged out of extremely hard experiences. She explains that her life has a very distinct line between the time she didn't know Christ and then after she received His saving grace.
"I am so thankful that the Lord gave me my testimony because these kids need someone they can relate to on the same level," she says. "They don't need another grown up yapping at them about Jesus. They need authentic faith to lead them to their authentic faith."
"The more I know the Lord and take on His yoke, I am so grateful for His gentle love. To put it in sports language, which coach would you rather have? The one who bullies you, breaks you down, and uses you only for your skill (Life)? Or, the coach who builds you up, trains you to be a better player, and teaches you that winning isn't only on the court (Jesus)."
"Laura has been a great resource in helping these girls be well-rounded, fulfilled young women. I know they really love having someone, away from the sport but still knowledgeable, that has their back on and off the court." says Coach Burford, Blackman Volleyball
Laura's favorite Bible story is found in 2 Samuel that shows us just how much God surrounds us and protects us, even when we cannot see Him. 2 Samuel 6 Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.” The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?” “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
“Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my Lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Other favorite things:
Bible Verse -- Psalm 56:8 You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? (A God who is near enough to capture a tear, then values it enough to save it, is a intimate and loving God!)
Sport -- Basketball
Food -- Chocolate
Candy -- Chocolate
Movie -- Woodlawn
Season -- Fall
Thing to do -- Go to Chattanooga … it’s the happiest place in Tennessee!
Thank you to Laura and all of our FCA Character Coaches who are making an impact in Middle Tennessee for the kingdom of God.
Blackman High Volleyball team recently attended a Blackman Middle school game to cheer them on!