Being a Division 1 athlete comes with many highs and many low valleys throughout the duration of an athlete’s 4 years of eligibility. Fortunately for Lipscomb University Volleyball (LUV), the highs have been an extremely common occurrence as of late. For example, they were recently crowned the Atlantic Sun conference champions and, consequently, are scheduled to play their first round of the NCAA tournament in southern California at UCLA today. In other words, it is a sweet time to be a LUV player.
The players realize this, but they also acknowledge the fact that the uniqueness of the program has given them so much more than athletic success. All-Conference Seniors, Molly Spitznagle and Jewell Dobson, along with All-Conference and Scholar Athlete of the Year, junior Kayla Ostrom, commented on the ways that they have grown as people, in confidence, and in their faith while pursuing their dreams with this very special team.
We had an opportunity to connect with them before the big game tonight and asked them a few questions:
Q: For you, personally, do faith and volleyball tie together? How does this affect your perspective on and off the court?
Kayla: Absolutely. For the longest time, volleyball was a major idol in my life. It was what I wrapped my identity around. The past couple years at Lipscomb have changed the way I view the sport. There have many hard times, but I see them as the way God is transforming me more into the likeness of His Son: teaching me to surrender my worries or desires to Him, to rely on HIs strength alone, to play and live in a way that points others to Him (to play for His glory and not my own).
Jewell: Yes, volleyball has taught me a lot about my faith, especially the past two years. Tearing my ACL my senior year was a huge challenge for me in many ways. I questioned many things, including my own worth and where I find my value. Those challenges ultimately led me to turn to God and find strength in that relationship, rather than finding my worth and value in what I could do on the court. Along with this, I have also met and interacted with so many different faithful people the past 4 years through Lipscomb athletics, and each person has shown me something valuable. I have learned the value of relationships and finding Christ in others through Lipscomb athletics, and I think that is something that I will take with me anywhere I may end up after college.
Q: Up to this point, what has been the most impacting moment of your time with LUV?
Molly: My most impacting thing with my time with LUV is my teammates. There is no special moment I have, because there are so many. I have made the most caring, genuine, funny, tell-it-like-it-is, forever friends from this program, and I will aways have that to take with me. The locker room has become my favorite memory. Anything that happens in there is my favorite. Whether it is dance parties before games, film, eating, studying, complaining about a bad practice, laughing at jokes, or anything in between, that locker room is forever home. I have had the best and worst moments there, and I think the bad moments prepare you for the good that will come.
Q: How have you seen yourself grow as a person since playing volleyball at Lipscomb? What do you attribute this to?
Jewell: I’ve learned the value of hard work, living in the present moment, the ability to work on a team, and how to push myself to my full potential. Being a part of college athletics has pushed me past the limits that I set for myself, and has shown me that I can often do more than I originally think I can. It has also taught me discipline in all areas of life, and that there is no shortcut to doing things the right way. I also think I have become an overall stronger person, and can better handle adversity and challenges that I may face in the future because of what I have been through as an athlete.
Molly: I have seen myself grow in so many aspects while being at Lipscomb. I have grown in my maturity tremendously, and I now realize that it is not all about me. I’ve learned to never do anything half way, and if I want something it is mine to go and take. It’s almost like a new level of confidence that I have about myself, and I can attribute a lot of it to Brandon Rosenthal. His demands for the team every day never waiver, and I have learned to respect him a lot for this. I don’t run from a challenge
now, and I think that’s because of Brandon.
Kayla: I have grown a lot in Christ since my time at Lipscomb. It is firstly all because of his work on the cross, his working in me through the power of his Spirit, and God carrying out the plans of my life to even bring me to a place like Lipscomb with people who are teaching me and encouraging me in my faith.
We are so thankful for the people, and provisions God is using to grow our student-athletes at Lipscomb. We LUV our teams here, and we are so grateful for the way the the Lord has worked in their lives at the intersection of sport and faith. Be sure to tune in tonight to watch the LUV Lady Bisons play UCLA at 10 p.m. central time (watch here: http://pac-12.com/live/ucla)
Read more about the match tonight: http://www.lipscombsports.com/volleyball/news/2015-16/10696/lipscomb-ready-for-ncaa-volleyball-challenge-at-ucla/
Written by: Alex Newby, Lipscomb Spiritual Formation Grad Student