There are a few moments in life that I will never forget where I was when I got the news; when the world trade centers were hit, when my uncle passed away and when the NCAA shut it all down. Earlier that morning, I was in the gymnastics locker room at University of Maryland helping fold leotards. It was the last weekend of competition before Big Ten Championships and we were headed to West Virginia University later that day. We were watching the Big Ten Basketball Tournament on the TV when they pulled players off the court. We were then called up to our head coach’s office and informed that we would not be going to WVU. The girls were already headed in with their luggage to get on the bus, so we waited until they had all arrived and then explained to them that we didn’t know what was going on, but that they should go back to their apartments and plan to practice the next day instead of competing.
That day took so many twists and turns and by the end of it, the girls had all been called back in and I sat with them in a small conference room as our head coach explained to the seniors that their careers were over. It was surreal. It was heartbreaking. It is a moment that I will never forget.
People ask me what it means to be a character coach. It means a lot of things. It means that I do teambuilding. It means that I give character talks. It means that I am available for prayer or to lead Bible studies as an option for girls who want to grow in their faith. But at the end of the day, I get to do life with this group of people. I get invited into their world and because of that I feel with them. I can still feel that moment. It was grief. It was loss. It was real.
In the days and weeks and even months that followed, I had the opportunity to speak to individual athletes and coaches and love them well through the pain. In moments of isolation, confusion and frustration I got to show God’s love and remind them that they are more than their sport.
By investing in UMD FCA, this is what you get to be a part of. We get to go deep in our investment in the lives of coaches and athletes. We all love the highlight reel. Those amazing, mountain top moments in sports. Well borrowing from my favorite movie, Miracle, “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” This moment is a great opportunity. It may not feel like it now with so many sports cancelled and postponed. But coaches and athletes are still here; struggling to move forward, to keep improving, to continue doing the sport they love. What a privilege it is to walk alongside them, to encourage them, to pray for them and to reach the heart behind the jersey!
I am looking forward to whatever this season brings, knowing God has gone before me and will go with me through it as I serve our coaches and athletes!