by James Howey
In the hundreds of sporting events that take place in America, one of the most common sights is a player pointing up to the sky in celebration after a big shot, home run or touchdown. You also will see countless amounts of athletes thanking God for their success and the talent they have. This relationship has been prevalent with so many athletes, ranging from professional to high school. The athletes and coaches here at the college are no different.
“My faith has helped me throughout my entire career,” softball player Kaytlyn Briegge said. “I have had some setbacks from injuries, and knowing God had a specific plan for me is what really helped me through the struggle.”
Like so many other athletes, softball coach Aubree Brattin credits her success to her religious beliefs.
“I grew up in a Christian household and was taught to be a very humble athlete, even with all my successes that I had,” said Brattin. “That is due to the fact that I was taught and knew that it wasn’t through my own doing. I was talented the way I was because God gave me those talents and the tools and motivation to be a successful athlete.”
Head volleyball coach Jennifer Ei went to a Catholic high school, and still uses a lot of religious themes and stories in her successful coaching career.
“We’ll do some devotions sometimes. I have a Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ coach’s bible that at the end they have devotions for each day and it’s related more towards athletics,” Ei said. “I think that helps the athletes relate to some of the scripts but also some of the things they are going through.”
Former soccer and tennis player at the college Betsy Petre says her belief gives her an appreciation of the bigger picture beyond the game.
“For me personally, it’s always in the back of my mind, win or lose,” said Petre. “There’s a bigger story than just if you are going to win this game or lose this game. You still have that foundation you have built.”
Petre is also head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at the college and says the people that are involved in the club go beyond just being athletes.
“I think for a lot of our athletes, sports is one of their main focuses, but especially for our Christian athletes. I think for them, their faith is just as important,” Petre said. “So it’s kind of like an all-around thing, and they aren’t just focused on their sport. They’re also focused in the classroom and also, more importantly, being strong Christians and growing in their faith.”
Petre loves the diversity and says that anyone who wants to join will be more than welcome to join them on Monday nights.
“If you’re an athlete [or] if you’re not an athlete, we accept everyone. We want everyone to feel involved,” Petre said. “You see every sport and everyone getting along.”
The club will be two years old in January and has grown from having around 20 people attending to having, at times, 50–60 people in attendance this fall.
Finding players with good character is a goal that many coaches strive for, and for Brattin, she finds that often goes with their spiritual views.
“I recruit players with strong moral compasses, people who are humble athletes and respectful to the people around them, and for some reason that kind of goes hand in hand with their religion,” Brattin said. “I think that’s something that Christianity brings to the table. It teaches that respect, humbleness and glorifying God in the sport that you play.”
Motivation and purpose are traits that are essential for athletes to have to succeed. For many athletes, having a spiritual life provides that. Volleyball player Becca Henderson is one of those athletes.
“Trying to always be positive and it helps me think there is always something better to strive for and to be a better person,” Henderson said. “It gives me a greater purpose.”
With all the ups and downs that happen through sports, it’s important for an athlete or coach to have something to pull them through the stress.
“I’ve had lots of things as a coach that there is no way I could have ever gotten through if I wasn’t a religious person and I didn’t lean on prayer,” Brattin said.