Take a look at the photo.
What do you see?
“That’s easy,” you might say. “I see Siennah Stamness shooting a jump shot.”
And you wouldn’t be wrong.
Someone else could say, “I see some of the Dordt faithful who show up game after game no matter who the opponent is or how the season is going.”
Again, you wouldn’t be wrong, but I’d ask you to look again.
Eventually, I’d think, you’d notice the reserves and student managers on the team bench.
The reserves. Ready to respond. The players who have practiced all week but might not get in the game.
The scout team. Those entrusted with making certain the rotation of players who log regular minutes in games are ready for what the opponent may throw at them.
I’ve said it often, everyone who signs on for athletics at the college level do so with the hopes of getting into the game. They’ve had the taste of success, in all likelihood, at the high school level and want that to continue.
But what if that isn’t your role moving forward?
I’ve often said the truly great teams have individuals who give up their wishes for the good of the whole. The player who could pout because of lack of opportunities instead becomes the best practice player possible to push those in front. The player who could score 20 instead scores 10 and gets everyone involved for the betterment of the whole.
The player who could say, “What’s in it for me?” instead asks “What’s in it for us.”
Steffi Cunard completes her third and final season with the Defender women’s basketball program.
Yup, she’s going to graduate after three years at Dordt and head off to grad school.
I asked her to reflect on her three years here. The expectations she had as an incoming freshman to what her reality was by the time her competitive athletic career wound down.
I’m finding that I’m learning a lot more from these students than anything I’ve imparted on them.
A Dordt Defender – this was me for the past three years. Now, this was not my sole identity, but it was a huge part of me as the work I put in to the game consumed hour after hour, season after season, and year after year. Yet, it was the definition of a defender that kept me going – I could not and would not let my team down. A defender means to stay true and faithful; to sacrifice your individual concerns for something greater. This was the vision that drew me in; so in the year of 2015 I stepped up into those shoes and into the role of becoming a Dordt Defender. Little did I know how much I would actually have to live into the definition of a so-called defender.
Little did I know how much I would actually have to live into the definition of a so-called defender.
For 15 years now, I have run up and down the basketball court chasing down this dream of playing college basketball. However, it seemed like no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much extra time I put in, and no matter how badly I wanted it, my role was just simply not to be the all-star player at the college level. It took me up until the last year and a half to finally see why God has given me the ability to develop the skill of basketball. God needed me on the team, but not in the shoes I had previously hoped for.
However, it seemed like no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much extra time I put in, and no matter how badly I wanted it, my role was just simply not to be the all-star player at the college level.
Through out this last season God has taught me a lot about my role on the basketball team as well as my role on this earth. Acts 20:24 has been my individual theme verse for this past season and it says, “however, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
Basketball has been a tool for me to use in working towards my task of proclaiming the gospel. It has taught me to deny myself, yet at the same time to confidently proclaim God’s goodness to me. While it is so easy to push aside my weaknesses and take credit for my strengths, God has used this sport to instead expose my weaknesses. I didn’t always enjoy it, in fact, most of the time it was very humbling, but my God was faithful and he was true. He was my defender when I was letting my failures beat down my purpose and defense. Through it all He taught me what it looks like and what it feels like to give up my own glory for the sake of something greater. He taught me how to sacrifice through servant hood even when it feels like you get nothing in return. He taught me how to love people regardless of circumstance. Most of all, He taught me that our greatest blessings are sometimes the hardest to get through.
God has used this sport to instead expose my weaknesses. I didn’t always enjoy it, in fact, most of the time it was very humbling, but my God was faithful and he was true.
While my college career never amounted to much on the court, I have no regrets for the sacrifice it has been to play college basketball. No pain of the season could compare to the memories I have made with the team. Being a Defender has meant the world to me. There is nothing I would trade for the girls I have grown to love and the lessons I have learn that have brought me closer to the heart of God.
I was a Dordt Defender for three years, but I will always be a defender for my God and for my team. This is the family I have become a part of – the family that stays faithful and true for the sake of God’s glory and for the sake of the gospel being proclaimed to all peoples. God may not have made me be to be the defender on the court, but I am confident he has made me a defender for His glory to spread.
This is the family I have become a part of – the family that stays faithful and true for the sake of God’s glory and for the sake of the gospel being proclaimed to all peoples.