12 Hours

king_seniorday

The calendar flipped last week.

The end of a football season is looming.  We celebrated Senior Day a little over a week ago and I had the privilege of watching seniors and their families walk across the field and were acknowledged by those in attendance.

Do you ever stop and think about what those individuals and families have done and have gone through to get to this point?  

I believe we sometimes take for granted the toil it takes to get to this point and the unease that some feel through their four years at a school and how they are forced to grow up and mature.

I’ve gotten to know Courtland King a bit over the last three plus years.  I fully anticipate if he comes back to campus after graduation he’ll stop by the athletic office and we’ll fall into an easy conversation.

Who’d of thought? A middle aged guy who’s never lived outside of 40 miles where he grew up and a young man from the metroplex of Dallas-Fort Worth crossing paths at a college in Northwest Iowa and getting to know each other a little bit.

Part of this job that I’ve grown to enjoy is how I’m affected in a positive way by getting to know and gaining a little better understanding of those who may not be exactly like me.  Keeps me young and keeps me growing.

And, next time you sit through a Senior Day, pause and remember the challenges that are overcome to get to that point.

 

mbyk

 

Before coming on my visit, I had never heard of Dordt College or Sioux Center, Iowa in my entire life. On my visit, everyone in the community and on the campus made me feel like a superstar. Everyone smiled at me and genuinely wanted to have a conversation with me.

The only problem was that the school was twelve hours away from home. Along with being twelve hours away from home, Sioux Center is the exact opposite of Dallas, Texas in terms of size. Everyone knows Dallas is a big city and if you did not know Sioux Center is not. Though I was skeptical about choosing Dordt College, God wanted me here so that’s where I was going.

Upon coming to Dordt the people and community never changed. The love I received on my visit was no fluke. I felt so welcome here, but that did not stop the fear of being so far away from home and being in a completely new environment from creeping in. Like most, I put on a front of being completely happy with my situation when in reality I was uncomfortable.

I was twelve hours away from home, in a small town, and in area where diversity was lacking. No matter how much my friends, teammates, and the community did for me there was no way to ignore those feelings.

As much as I wanted a great education, football is one of the main reasons I came to Dordt. I hate to open up the yearbook, but I came from a winning program in high school so my first year of football was not so easy.

We went 2-9, and that was hard.

We went 2-9, and that was hard.

I was already uncomfortable, but now one of the main reasons I was in Sioux Center, Iowa was not going so well. The one place I felt at home, the football team, was crumbling from the inside out. Most of my friends had already left or were making plans to do so.

To me I had every reason to leave. First, I felt like I was in the middle of nowhere.

Second, the football program was not good at all.

Most importantly, the feeling of being uncomfortable within this environment was becoming unbearable.

To my parents, who raised me on the statement “King’s never quit”, I had absolutely no reason to leave Dordt College. I was getting a good education and thriving while doing it, so if I were to leave they were not paying for it.

After coming back from a much needed Christmas break my entire mindset had changed. During Christmas break I went to church and the pastor said something that stuck with me, “God places you in certain environments because that’s where He wants you. As much as God loves you, your comfortability within that environment is not the first thing on His mind. Your purpose is what’s important to Him.”

“God places you in certain environments because that’s where He wants you. As much as God loves you, your comfortability within that environment is not the first thing on His mind. Your purpose is what’s important to Him.”

The hardest part about accepting what I had heard was acknowledging the fact that I had to be vulnerable during this whole process.

My whole mentality changed when I came back, I started to more personable toward the people in the community and my friends. I started to sit in the front of all of my classes and participate more, even when I had no idea what was going on sometimes.

I wanted to build relationships with not only my teammates, but my coaches also. Though I came in with a better attitude, coming back to Dordt was still very difficult. Everyone that I felt the most comfortable with had either left already or were leaving very soon. My little bit of comfortability was leaving, but little did I know God was just making room for more.

My little bit of comfortability was leaving, but little did I know God was just making room for more.

In the midst of maturity and changing, God changed my environment. I grew closer to some of the guys on the team that I never thought I would.

We had a change in coaching staff and I began a relationship with Coach Lynn Nutt.

If you know him, you know coach Nutt is a hard-nose kind of guy. He not only coaches us hard on the football field, but in life. I’ve sat in his office just to get advice at times. Coach Nutt said something in a meeting that just validated what exactly God was doing in my life. One day he said, “The stimulus for lobsters to be able to grow is to feel uncomfortable.” Coach Nutt went on to say, “How are we supposed to grow as players and men if we are never uncomfortable?”

That’s when I knew I was supposed to be here.

That’s when I knew I was supposed to be here.

Staying at Dordt College has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, right next to choosing to come here in the first place. Our entire football program has completely turned around. We expect to win every game. I have made some of the best friends here; Dalton Helmkamp, Dominic Byl, Justin Banks, Jacob Pottebaum, Casey Byker, Josiah Kotte, and Julius Buchanan are all guys that I know will be at my wedding in the future.

If you had told me four years ago that I was going to be where I am now, I would not believe you.

If you had told me four years ago that I was going to be where I am now, I would not believe you.

Who would’ve known that twelve hours away from home in a place completely foreign to where I am from is where I would find myself.

Playing football at the collegiate level is something that most people cannot even dream of and I got to do that. Most importantly, I met some of the most amazing people here at Dordt and built relationships with them.

At the end of the day, twelve hours was ultimately diminished by becoming vulnerable and understanding that God always has a purpose for you.

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