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From the outside looking in, the start of our season was a success. The win column certainly could attest to that. 3-0. What more could we want? What the win column couldn’t speak to was the internal wrestling going on in my heart as coach. Sooner or later I knew I had to confront the darkness in my own heart, I just didn’t think it would be in the fourth game of the season.
We played maybe our worst half of basketball all season in that game, and I was making sure my players knew it—criticizing their sloppy play and amplifying their mistakes. At halftime, I turned to Coach Seay and told him he needed to talk to the guys, knowing my own words would be drenched in negativity. We ended up winning the game, but my drive home was miserable. I was ashamed of the anger and resentment I carried toward my players during the course of that game. It seemed like the more competitive we were becoming as a program, the uglier I got as a coach. I didn’t know who I was as a coach, and my lack of identity left me lost and floundering.
I knew I couldn’t continue coaching if things stayed the same, so I turned to the Lord, laying all my struggles and sins before Christ, asking Him to give me a Christ-centered coaching identity and to birth a Christ-centered vision in my heart for this basketball program. It sounds simple, but that is exactly what was missing: Christ Himself was absent from our program. In fact, he had been absent from my athletic experience throughout my entire life.
Athletics has always been compartmentalized, outside and irrelevant to my apprenticeship to Jesus. Looking back, it became clear how God had been using a variety of relationships, events, teachings, and conversations in my life to plant the seeds for this new vision God was about to birth in me. I began to realize that if Jesus truly is King of the universe that means he is King over the game of basketball, which also meant that there was a way to play this game that truly honored the King, a way that embodied the heart and character of Christ on the court, and a way that bore witness to the reality of His Lordship in my life. This way to play the game became known as "The Narrow Path."
Narrow Path Basketball meant coming under the authority of Christ and making him the center of our basketball program. When we did that, everything changed. Suddenly, the team truly took on an identity that was in Christ as we looked to the life and teachings of Jesus to guide and direct our approach to the game. We honored the King by following the path He has already carved out—a path marked by humility, discipline, resolve, faithfulness, composure, love for each other, and love for our enemies.
This is the game of basketball surrendered back to God, and He has borne much fruit because of it. The success we’ve had as a team in the 2020-21 season has been because our guys have taken this Narrow Path; they have surrendered their allegiance to King Jesus out on the basketball court, and it has made all the difference.
Our volleyball program has had incredible growth over the last 5 years! This last year we had one returning senior, 5 juniors, 3 sophomores, and some great incoming freshmen, which meant that we started the season with a solid group of players, who had come up through our middle school program and have been playing together for years.
The girls started working out over the summer, coming together for conditioning, skills practice, and working on game rotations. With COVID, we weren’t exactly sure how the season was going to look, and we started our practices a little later than we usually do, but the girls were thankful to be able to be on the court playing the game they love.
Because we weren’t able to play any preseason games, we jumped right into our TAPPS District games. The girls jumped out and started playing hard and playing some tough teams, and walking away with some wins. As the season progressed, the girls improved and continued to win. They continued to work hard and improve their skills, as well as grow together as a team.
Volleyball, as in most team sports, doesn’t get wins with individual skills. Regardless of how good your players are, if they don’t work together as a team, they won’t do well. As the players continued to grow together as a team, they gave it everything they had at every game and ended the regular season with only one loss.
For the first time in Covenant Academy history, our girls volleyball team became District Champions, winning the TAPPS District 7! This put them into the playoffs, and they made it on to the second round before losing to a team from San Antonio. We are looking forward to next year, with all of our players returning, except for one graduating senior. GO PATRIOTS!!