Lifted Up

Over the course of a school year I sort through tens of thousands of photos taken by the student assistants in the sports information office. 

Every once and a while one catches my eye and I file it away.

The photo attached to this piece is one of those.

It was in the week after the football season ended and there it was.  Justin Urquidez and Levi Schoonhoven celebrating a touchdown against Midland in the season finale at Sioux Center.

Really, it sums up the offensive lineman mindset–racing to endzone to lift someone up, letting them ‘stand on their shoulders’ yet again.

Levi had a record setting year.  Yards in a game, over a 1000 yards rushing and the career mark, and he knew none of those yards would be possible without the men up front paving the way.

When I showed the photo to Justin I was moved by the emotion he showed just looking at that photo—a couple seniors who came in as wide-eyed freshmen looking to prove themselves nearly four years ago and leaving the program in a better place than they found it.

One lifting the other up.

For many, this fall was the last time they’ll line up opposite an opponent in athletic competition and find out if they’ve got what it takes to do a challenging task.

But really, as you read this piece, I think you’ll find the purpose of athletics isn’t to simply win or lose games, it’s to challenge yourself and the people around you to do things that may be difficult and unpleasant, but the end result, when done right, is so, so rewarding.

Thanks for the memories men. 

Godspeed.

mbyk

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A long, but quick four years has flown by, it amazes me the tremendous growth I’ve made not only as a football player, but as a man as well. As I reflect upon this picture of Levi and I, it brings back so many memories.

Not memories of our wins, not memories of our broken records, not anything that you would see if you weren’t on the team.

Not memories of our wins, not memories of our broken records, not anything that you would see if you weren’t on the team.

I think about the long and hard practices at 6 AM, the conditioning test that each of us vigorously worked hard for all summer, the fall camps we’ve had every season, the tears shed together, and the injuries endured.

Every football team experiences a bond; however, this team was special because the love was so powerful with God behind us and within each other.

This team is overwhelmingly special to me, and this photo itself explains so much about us. We never played for the personal accolades, the wins, or even national rankings; we played for the love of each other. If you were to ask me the scores of games, I would not be able to tell you and neither would my teammates.

We never played for the personal accolades, the wins, or even national rankings; we played for the love of each other.

As our head coach, Joel Penner, would constantly remind us: our goals were legitimate, but our purpose was ultimate. Although winning was a big part of football, winning was not everything to us. These inspiring words and motives behind our play remind me of Psalm 144:1-3 that says, “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me. O LORD, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him?” Football is an intense, physical sport that often requires grit and toughness.

To be able to show each of these traits while we glorify God was something we strived for as a team. We went to battle as a band of brothers every Saturday, with the motive to inspire and instill the word of God in others.

This picture was taken on Levi and I’s final game against Midland, where we struggled to get the ball rolling on offense. After several failed offensive drives, we drove for a hard fought 60-yard scoring drive. The end result of that battle was where this moment was captured. Levi had punched it into the endzone from the two yard line.

With any scoring drive down field, there was always that accomplishment and celebration, however, when I think of this now it feels different because I will never feel that moment again.

With any scoring drive down field, there was always that accomplishment and celebration, however, when I think of this now it feels different because I will never feel that moment again.

Blocking for a hard nosed running back like Levi was such a blessing to experience and it made me personally grow as a man.

Levi is a selfless, humble, and a genuine hard worker who knew how to flip the switch on the football field. His relentless attitude and emotional drive is what got an offensive lineman like me to work to the best of my ability. Lifting Levi in the end zone for one of the last times will be kept deep in my heart. This picture caught a moment worth way more than the first scoring touchdown in that game.

Lifting Levi in the end zone for one of the last times will be kept deep in my heart. This picture caught a moment worth way more than the first scoring touchdown in that game.

Reflecting over my team’s values and beliefs has impacted and motivated myself to strive to be a better man. Being taught football and life lessons from coaches who cared about building men more than winning a game has embedded in me the Industry Standard lifestyle I will carry forever. Coach Penner was not the only one who strived to get us to honor God, grow as men, and compete fiercely. With a team who bought into his philosophy and each other, and a coaching staff who encouraged us to do the same, I realized that the Industry Standard lifestyle is the only way I want to live.

Using different measures to determine our success helped me to grow as a kingdom man.

A quote I had written down during our “Locomotive Training” my junior year stated, “A kingdom man would be mature, take care of others, and that comes with a great deal of responsibility.”

Being a kingdom man is not easy to achieve, but with the adversities and challenges Dordt Football has brought to me, it is instilled in me that all my future hardships will be achievable as I walk with God by my side.

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