I used to believe lacrosse was my whole life.
Everything from what I did to who I was as a person was tied to the sport I played. I placed my entire identity into how I performed on the field. A single bad performance would bring along a strong sense of disappointment that would just linger.
It was an overwhelming pressure that started to eat away at me.
I feared it would be even worse in college. The thought of competing at a Division I level was exciting, but there were also so many feelings of uncertainty.
What if I’m not good enough?
What if I’m not what they’re expecting?
What if I fail to perform?
A feeling of anxiety washed over me as I walked through the doors of Presbyterian College for the very first time.
And then something amazing happened.
It was something that took the weight off my shoulders and put all of my worries to rest. It was something that would change my life forever.
After years of carrying so much pressure, I felt lighter the day I discovered Jesus Christ.
Who would have ever thought my love for lacrosse would put me on the path of a spiritual journey? I like to think everything happens for a reason.
There are no coincidences where God is concerned.
I never even considered becoming a student-athlete. Sure, I loved playing lacrosse, but it was more of a hobby than an actual long-term goal. It wasn’t until I went to a summer camp going into my freshman year of high school when I truly started to consider taking the sport a step further.
There were a bunch of college coaches at the camp, and their enthusiasm when talking about competing at the next level stuck with me. That’s when I started thinking I really wanted to play at the Division I level.
So I put my head down and went to work.
During my recruiting process, I reached out to a bunch of schools and coaches but nothing was really happening. Then PC just came out of nowhere and surprised me with an offer. I’ll never forget the day when PC showed interest.
Gratitude is probably the feeling I remember the most. It was surreal having a dream that stemmed all the way back to that summer camp come to life. I had to stop and pinch myself just to make sure I wasn’t still dreaming. Not only was I going to get to continue playing lacrosse, but I was going to get the opportunity to play at a Division I level.
Of course, the realities of being a student-athlete didn’t hit me until I walked through the door.
The balancing of school work, sports and my personal life was more challenging than I could have ever imagined. I’ve always been someone that put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed, and the weight from everything was so much to overcome.
So I pushed myself to get involved in some other aspect on campus—something beyond just the classroom and sports. That’s when I stumbled onto an organization called Campus Outreach.
I met with this group that introduced me to Jesus Christ. Just knowing that I was forgiven for all that I’ve done and loved beyond my understanding really changed my outlook on life.
More importantly, it gave me the inner-peace I’d spent a lifetime searching for.
From that day forward, I saw lacrosse as more than a game.
I saw it as an opportunity to bring glory to God. I was truly pushed on by my involvement in Campus Outreach. They encouraged me and taught me that I was more than just an athlete. I was a daughter of Christ.
I started going to the weekly Bible studies more regularly and got super into their mission and what they stood for. It wasn’t long before I was serving on the leadership team and planning the studies we were going to do. I just fell in love with the community of people on fire for Jesus. They wanted to get to know him better, and they also weren’t afraid of sharing that passion with the rest of the world.
One event that really stands out to me when thinking about Campus Outreach is the 2017 New Year’s Conference. It was a meeting in Raleigh, where Campus Outreach groups from colleges across the east coast gathered for a few days. There were about 2,000 college students. We stayed at a hotel and attended various seminars with different speakers.
And hey, there was also dodgeball. I mean, come on! Who doesn’t love dodgeball?
I remember hearing the first speaker, David Platt, talk about how we are dead in our sin and anything we try do will never be good enough for God. But the overarching message was the fact that we do not have to be good enough because hope and eternal life is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s through our faith in him that we are granted everlasting freedom and joy.
At that very moment, I looked around the room at 2,000 other college students all nodding their heads in agreement. That’s when I knew this life was bigger than just myself. There was a greater meaning and purpose out there than just me and lacrosse. There’s an eternal purpose because of God’s redemptive work in Jesus.
My life changed forever after that day.
This year, I was scheduled to go to a summer event called Leadership Project. It would have been a seven-week trip to Myrtle Beach filled with seminars and worship. I was actually supposed to be one of the leaders at the event, but everything was canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take the news hard.
Not getting the chance to spend that time on the beach and make memories with other Campus Outreach students was heartbreaking. It was hard knowing I’d miss out on an opportunity to be a leader and learn from that experience.
But I also had to remind myself that God is in control, and His plans are greater than mine.
My goal is to hopefully become a full-time staff member of the Campus Outreach program when I finish college. I’d love an opportunity to work with college students and spread the same love that was shown to me when I was just a freshman carrying the weight of the whole world on my shoulders.
Campus Outreach is about building people up and preparing them for the world. Sadly, college doesn’t last forever, but the hope and prayer is that we continue to follow Jesus when we leave. The goal is to continue to spread the word of God and make that love known for the rest of our lives.
It’s a close-knit community where you’re surrounded by people growing in spirit together. I’ve never been more proud to be a part of something.
You see, I used to believe my whole life was lacrosse.
But I now know my identity was never found in the sport I played. It had always been in Christ. That lesson changed my college experience in so many ways, but it also changed the trajectory of my entire life.
And for that reason alone, I’ll always be grateful.