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Off to Nationals.

The Dordt track and field team sent its representatives to the NAIA National Track and Field Championships earlier this week.

Through the course of the year its easy to get focused in solely on the numbers.  What was the time run? Was it a PR (personal record)? What did they clear?  What was that throw?  Was it good enough to get to the national meet?

All valid questions.  I mean, they do run a stopwatch at these meets and they do measure the throws and jumps.

But if that’s all there is, you’re going to be met with more disappointment than a person can sustain.

I asked Mycah Hulst to write about her experience as a student-athlete and now coach.

I’ll be honest, and I told Mycah this, I wasn’t sure she would make it through her first year at Dordt. I just didn’t know if she was ‘all in’. As it turns out through much of her early time at Dordt she was focused on  the numbers in track and basketball. I look at the photo accompanying this essay and I think, Mycah looks so young  and we can see she now looks older. I think in this essay we can also see the growth that has taken place for her as a person.

She graduated in 2016 after earning All-American status in track and field three times, was a conference champion in the high jump, holds several basketball records and was an all-conference performer in basketball as well. 

Even if she hadn’t achieved any of those things I’d look at her time here as a success.  It’s become more and more clear to me it’s about more than numbers and honors.  Competition is still part of it, but there is more.

I am so glad Mycah took the opportunity to write about her experience.  To look back at the road after we’ve traveled it is vital, I believe, so that we can see how all things work together for our good and by seeing this our faith is strengthened.

Freshman Mycah would not have written something with this depth.  For that, Mycah, I thank you.  Putting yourself out for all to see is not easy.  With all sincerity, thank you.

To our athletes competing this weekend I wish nothing but the best for you.

My hope is the weekend is filled with All-American performances and PRs galore.  But, understand, we look at you as more than a time, or a distance, or a throw.  Enjoy the moments, compete fiercely and grow. 

Never stop growing.

mbyk

While at Dordt College, I have been a student, an athlete, and a coach. Each of these roles have impacted my life differently but have uniquely aligned to further define the person I am today. That being said, to understand the result, you need to first, catch a glimpse at the process:

My decision to come to Dordt College, many years ago was unexpected and, at the time, unwanted.

My decision to come to Dordt College, many years ago was unexpected and, at the time, unwanted. For as long as I can remember, my post-high school plans and goals were always centered on living in a coastal city and studying art/design. However, like many know and have experienced, one’s self-determined plan has little power, in comparison to the intricate PRE-designed route God engrained in the stars at the beginning of time, for each of his beloved children (aka. I was in for a BIG wake- up call).

I started my freshman, fall semester in the middle of Northwest Iowa with a fiery determination to prove myself to the world.

Nevertheless, even though I was headed in the complete OPPOSITE DIRECTION of my original dream, I started my freshman, fall semester in the middle of Northwest Iowa with a fiery determination to prove myself to the world. I was naïve and unaware (many who knew the “freshman” Mycah can attest to this). I wanted to make a name for myself on the basketball court, track, and in society… success was defined by worldly values. Thankfully, God doesn’t give up on his stubborn children and continues to schedule events that break the barriers withholding an individual from truly grasping the purpose he has beautifully predestined for her life. The first of these events being my college decision.

When I made the half-hearted leap to attend Dordt, I had no idea that every moment up until that point was preparing me for the transformation I was going to experience while being a Defender in Sioux Center, Iowa. People that I would meet, relationships I would build, and experiences I would go through, would all be tailored towards helping me recognize that my life is not my own but belongs body and soul to Jesus Christ; and would forever make this school hold a very special place in my heart.

Participating in college sports is something almost all high school athletes dream of… myself included. NCAA D1 and D2 schools were out of the question, due to personal reasons, leaving me with the NAIA or D3. I was ultimately motivated to be a Defender, so that I could play alongside of my older sister but stayed because of a team(s) who became like family.

Competing in sports impacts and effects each athlete differently. Up until my junior year of college, successful competition was based off of wins, stats, and heights cleared… anything less was considered a failure or not acceptable—put bluntly, Soli Deo Gloria was not in my vocabulary at the time. This not only took away the fun from both sports but placed immense amounts of pressure on myself and created a person I did not recognize or enjoy. Eventually, these unrealistic standards and expectations were forcefully broken down.

Up until my junior year of college, successful competition was based off of wins, stats, and heights cleared… anything less was considered a failure or not acceptable—put bluntly, Soli Deo Gloria was not in my vocabulary at the time.

Learning the hard and difficult way is never easy, but through the constant love, support, and encouragement of my fellow Defenders (i.e. coaches and athletes), friends, and family, I saw a version of competition (and life) that lacked the pressures of humanity.

Playing, jumping, and coaching for a small school in Northwest Iowa has and continues to teach me:

  1. To recognize that all athletic abilities are God-given GIFTS (not personally achieved) and to be used for HIS GLORY
  2. That these same gifts/opportunities can be taken away with a blink of an eye BUT STILL God must and will always be praised. (i.e. in the highs and lows of life, you better keep those eyes pointed and hands raised towards the sky.)
  3. To live every moment to the fullest, and don’t waste time focusing on minutes played, points scored, qualifying for competitions, awards won, or titles claimed, because these will simply fade. Life is too short and beautiful for that kind of unnecessary stress—if it happens GREAT if not life is STILL great.
  4. That true success CANNOT be decided by human accomplishments or opinions—defeating this perspective is a constant battle, but once achieved, reveals a life filled with eternal satisfaction

The emotions are REAL as I come to the close of this blog post (we are reaching that 750 word limit J ), but my hope is if there is one thing you remember from reading my story it’s that:

God uses the unexpected to transform, and the unwanted to fulfill

Look for the opportunities that don’t align with your plan or goals. You never know what will happen. You may just arrive in Northwest Iowa, with the intent of surviving one year, but end up staying for seven and never regretting a minute of it.

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