“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Right handed reliever Ryan Helsley has become one of the most reliable arms of the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen. Drafted in 2015 after two years at Northeastern State, Helsley began to quickly rise through the ranks of the minor leagues. Becoming known for his velocity and movement, many praised not only Helsley’s skills on the mound, but also the way he carried himself off of it. Now looking at his third season in the MLB, Helsley looks to continue to contribute for the Cardinals, with his faith at the forefront.
Born and raised in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Helsley grew up with faith as an integral part of his life. He says, “For as long as I can remember, my parents and my grandparents always had me and my brothers in church. I remember going as a little kid to Sunday school, revival, bible studies and church camp. I’m so thankful I was able to grow up with people in my life that had a passion for God and I’m so blessed that my parents were brought up the same way.” Ryan’s mom, Sherry, played a central role in his development. Since the beginning, she has always made sure to raise her kids in the faith. She says, “My faith is what gets me through each day. We raised 3 boys and being a parent of small children can be challenging but as they grow you pray their foundation of God guides them through the rest of their lives and provides them with hope for tomorrow. I keep a prayer journal and it is absolutely beautiful to see answered prayers…it may not be the exact way I envisioned but God’s answer is always perfect. Trusting in God and knowing his plans for me and my family are far greater than I could ever dream.”
After graduating high school, Helsley was undrafted and enrolled at Northeastern State. He quickly made an impact there and was taken by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 5th round of the 2015 draft. Since debuting for the Major League squad in 2019, he has continued to make his faith a priority in his life. He says, “Baseball is a sport of failure and the Bible has a lot to teach us about failure and ways we can get through the ups and downs of life. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my faith. It has carried me to this point. Without my daily walk and daily readings who knows where I would be in my baseball career or life itself. I think the biggest way baseball influences my faith is by me trying to live a life and show others Christ in me and hoping that they can see him through me by the way I act and talk in the way I go about my business.” As he readies himself to take the mound, Ryan is comforted by knowing God is with him.
Since making the majors, Ryan has seen himself moved from the MLB to AAA squad several times, alongside facing injuries and getting COVID during the 2020 season. Through these trials, Helsley says he has been guided by Proverbs 3:5-6 to keep him grounded, which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Written in his social media bios, and lived out on the field, Helsley says these verses help guide him and keep him centered. “God has a plan made out for all of us and we can find comfort in knowing that the one true King is in control of everything. I am thankful for people that pray for me. Always having scripture, family members and teammates also help you during a long season of ups and downs because we all go through it and having your brothers and sisters in Christ right there with you really makes things a lot easier.”
Ryan has consistently been using his gifts on the field to make a difference off of it. As he approaches his third MLB season, he continues to inspire others as he demonstrates his faith and love everywhere he goes. His mom, Sherry, says she is so proud and continues to be inspired by him everyday. “Ryan has taught me so much. Learning to be patient and to trust the process isn’t always easy, we live in a world of immediate gratification and learning to wait is a lesson in itself. Ryan has grown in his faith and continues to do so everyday and for that I am eternally grateful.”
*Photos courtesy of Sherry Helsley