This past week was spring break for many students around the country. For most that involves a retreat away from the typical school routine… But what about our collegiate student-athletes that are in their counting NCAA season- what do they do on their spring break?
For most, it means staying on campus and attending training and matches. This past week, our Lipscomb women’s tennis team did just that- trained, played matches, and served – not just on the court, but at a local family homeless shelter called Safe Haven.
Coach Jamie Aid is always seeking to help maximize her student-athletes development both on and off the court. This past week she saw the opportunity to schedule three days of service around the team’s set of NCAA Division 1 matches during her students-athletes spring break. Coach Aid shared with me:
“Whether the team is in Nashville or else where- being service minded during our spring break adds more purpose to the team’s schedule of time, and provides a great opportunity to serve others in need. These outreach efforts offer greater perspective as we enter our conference play and additionally it grows our team’s unity. It was really important to me to have a place where we could consistently connect in relationship building with the families and their kids as service was provided to them.”
This statement reminded me of the power of intentional evangelism; that is, choosing to share common ground and build relationships. This is what 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 in the Message version of the Bible has to say about this:
“I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!
“In on it.” Think about that statement. How often do we think to ourselves, “I should do something about that,” but life at its rapid pace continues, and we just talk about it as opposed to getting in on it.
Intentionality. This is what is unique about our Lipscomb athletic department, specifically in this story, our women’s tennis team. We want to be intentional; we want to be in on it.
This past week the team served at Safe Haven. Safe Haven is a homeless shelter that houses the entire family experiencing homelessness by providing for their immediate needs. Most homeless shelters are divided by gender, meaning that father’s and older boys could not stay with their wives/mothers and sisters. Uniquely however, Safe Haven is the only shelter-to-housing program of its kind in Middle Tennessee that accepts the entire homeless family. It is Safe Haven’s desire to keep the family together and provide comprehensive services that empower them to achieve lasting self-sufficiency.
At Safe Haven, the Lipscomb women’s tennis team was able to spend time with the children and their families during the afternoon and evenings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday last week. The student-athltes on the team were able to help serve the children through tutoring, creative interaction, and free play. Each afternoon involved the opportunity to help the children with their homework. Additionally the team did an art project with the shelter, and on wednesday evening the team put on a puppet show for the families. Friday afternoon, the team helped the shelter take inventory on their supplies.
Below are few quotes from the girls on the team and their take on serving at Safe Haven:
“It’s amazing to see how happy the kids are given their circumstances, and knowing that we are able to bring smiles to their faces just by being with them is such a blessing.” (Deahna Welcher, Senior)
“It is a blessing to get the insight into the lives of residents of Safe Haven and to be the ones to influence them to reach their potential in becoming the best that they can be. (Lorena Djuknic, Junior)
“The kids are so much fun! Their happiness makes me believe their future is in good hands. (Jenny Borck, Senior, Team Captain)
“Service was such a fulfilling experience, it was great to be able to spend time with such friendly and joyful kids. (Laura Kent, Sophomore)
“The service was a great experience for the team to be able to give back to the community in a way that allowed us all to learn and grow at the same time. We had a wonderful time with the kids and appreciated how they lived their lives to the fullest.” (Dani Kinnen, Junior, Team Captain)
Living your life to the fullest. This is not new for our women’s tennis team, they want to make the most of their days. So let me ask you this question:
Do you want to get in on it?
It’s in the matter of choosing to be intentional. Intentional in your time, intentional in your effort.
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG)
As for Lipscomb Athletics, we will continue to run to win; running hard for the finish line, giving it everything we got. We want to be in on it.
To learn more about our Lipscomb Women’s Tennis team and their upcoming match schedule visit: http://www.lipscombsports.com/wtennis/ or Follow Them @LipscombWTennis
To learn more about Safe Haven and their service opportunities: http://safehaven.org
Written By: Shannon O’Brien, Director of Women’s Spiritual Formation, Lipscomb Athletics