Sunday, 18 October 2020 14:56

Millikin coach’s book provides ways to strengthen your relationship with Christ

Written by Tony Cerveny

Coach Holding Ball CMYKIn the summer of 2003, Kramer Soderberg was listening to a coach give a motivational talk that used an analogy of different size cups and filling your cup, regardless of the size. This singular speech motivated him to be the best basketball player that he could be — as well as the best Catholic he can be. Little did Soderberg know how that speech would lead him to writing a book, Fill Your Cup for Christ, which illustrates practical ways to evaluate your spiritual cup.

“Before we can fill our cup for Christ, we must make room in our cup by getting rid of all those unimportant things that don’t lead us toward Heaven,” Soderberg said.

Today, Soderberg is a parishioner at Holy Family Parish in Decatur and assistant basketball coach at Millikin University in Decatur.

“I wrote the book for the teenage me who thought the religion I was born in to was just a painful chore,” Soderberg said. “I also wrote it for the immature college me who became lost in the ways of the world; for the professional me who was overwhelmed with all the anxiety and fear; for the uniformed me who thought that Christianity was whatever I wanted it to be; for me the spouse and me, the parent, who didn’t realize that every moment how dull or ordinary was an opportunity to glorify God; and finally for me, the lukewarm Christian, who was content with being a mediocre Catholic unaware that God wasn’t OK with me being average — but was calling me, instead, to strive for greatness.”

Ball and Book CMYKFill Your Cup for Christ takes readers on a spiritual journey of an everyday sleepwalking cradle Catholic who was searching to get more out of his or her faith life. Through stories, strategies, and some in-your-face coaching tactics, readers will grow in their relationship with Jesus, enhance their understanding of Catholic Church teachings, and ignite the desire to become the saint God is calling of us all to be.

Soderberg comes from a family where sports is a big deal. The coach who was telling the motivational speech in 2003 is his father, Brad Soderberg, who is currently an assistant basketball coach at the University of Virginia (National Champions in 2019). When you grow up as a son of a collegiate basketball coach, it is comparable to a military lifestyle where moving locations is just part of the deal. Though challenging, this type of lifestyle also had some advantages. Being around some major college programs and around the highly successful basketball players, ultimately, spearheaded the passion and fire Soderberg developed to be the best basketball player he could be. His hard work and dedication resulted in him being named the 2007-2008 Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year in Missouri.

Coach Kramer Soderberg has written a very readable book that will inspire those who may be questioning the Catholic faith to rekindle the flame of faith in their hearts. Fill Your Cup for Christ is basically a love story that convincingly expresses that the true reason for being a believer and practicing the faith is the realization that you are loved by God and seek to show your love for God in return with gratitude for the gifts of His creation. I highly recommend this book for young and old alike.

As a cradle Catholic, Soderberg went through the teenage rebellious years like so many do, where he started to question just how and why the Catholic Church is the Truth. Just as he dedicated his basketball career to learn as much as possible, he eventually turned his energy to our Catholic faith and dove deep into learning more. This was the beginning of a journey that ultimately led him to writing the book.

The book focuses on ways one can strengthen and develop his or her relationship with Jesus Christ. While the secular culture will try to pull people away from Jesus and what our faith teaches, Soderberg’s book stresses it is critical to always be “striving for greatness.” For example, in one of the chapters, Soderberg writes about priorities. A typical response when someone asks you to list the priorities in your life, it might look like this: God/family/friends/career/hobbies. But Soderberg says, “God wants to be incorporated into every spot on our list.”

Coach Soderberg with background CMYKSo, in Soderberg’s example of his priorities, he says: “1.) God in my prayer life 2.) God within my family 3.) God a part of my friends 4.) God glorified in my work or school 5.) God connected to my sport or hobby.”

Soderberg is married to his wife of seven years, Andrea. They have three children: Krayton, 6; Finley, 3; and Paisley, 1.

“I love being a dad — nothing better. It’s hard, but so rewarding,” Soderberg said.

When asked what advice he has for parents? His answer is to lead by example.

“What you say to your children is very important, but what your children see you do is one hundred times more important,” Soderberg said. “I cannot really remember things my dad said when I was younger, but I can remember him going to adoration, attending daily Mass, and praying the rosary. Actions have a profound effect on children.”

In Fill Your Cup for Christ, Soderberg writes, “This is a story of a very ordinary life in which Jesus quietly and continually called my name.” After reading his book, you will also learn more about how Jesus is calling you.

“It’s hard — that’s what I love about the Catholic Church — it’s hard,” Soderberg said. “I put my whole heart and soul into this religion to become a saint.”

Tony Cerveny is director of Sports Ministry and Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.

For more information on Kramer Soderberg and to purchase his book, go to