This summer, God has provided many opportunities for Lipscomb student-athletes and coaches to grow. Junior men’s basketball player Michael Buckland reflects on his incredible time at Ultimate Training Camp.
“Going into this camp, I didn’t have any expectations of what to anticipate. I knew that my sister, Megan, had attended it and it altered her life in a drastic way. When she got back from UTC, she immediately told me that I HAD to go whenever I got the chance. This spring, I decided to use my little free time in May to see what the Lord had in store for me at camp.
The day I left for UTC, I remember having a weird feeling of nervousness, not for the typical nerves of being alone or having to meet new people, but a nervousness that I would not connect on a level that my sister had with this camp years earlier. As the first few days went along, I continued to have some of these feelings because a majority of the time was spent in classroom settings learning about how to integrate faith and sport together, something that had already changed my life in my senior year of high school under my soccer coach, Scott Reitnour. I was beginning to wonder if this week was simply going to be a long, expensive reminder of things I’ve already learned and encountered in my sports journey thus far.
As the camp came to its final days, it was time for what the camp was known for: a physically, mentally, and spiritually grueling team competition known as the SPECIAL that lasts for 20 hours straight. The competition started at 5:30pm with an hour and a half of ultimate frisbee, then sprint/push up relays for 45 minutes, followed by tug of war, then an hour of swimming relays, an hour and a half of basketball, 3 hours of sleep from 2-5am, a 5 mile obstacle course as the sun rises, team exercise competitions, sprint relays, then a mile run in the Rocky Mountains. As the competitions started, I soon came to the realization that my body wasn’t going to be able to withstand this competition on its own. I began cramping up during the tug of war, and soon threw up on the side of the pool during the swimming relays. It was at this time that I gave up my own agenda for wanting to finish the SPECIAL.
I learned a lot throughout the competitions about laying down my own plans and my own desires to lean into the power and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. As my tank became empty, it was continually filled up by the grace of the Lord.
You can only imagine the competitiveness when you gather 175 collegiate athletes together for the SPECIAL. It was amazing to see the transformation of attitude in the 20 teams that were in competition with each other. It went from a competitive nature of doing whatever it took for your team to get a win to doing whatever it took to simply get your own team AND the team next to you through the competition. I went from competing as two separate teams to realizing we’re all a part of the same team, the Lord’s Army.
Competition is good and healthy, but only when you’re trying to make the person next to you better.
Finally the end of the SPECIAL approached and we bussed into the Rocky Mountains for the “Golgotha Run.” Here, the camp leader went through the Biblical story of the final days of Jesus as he was betrayed, beaten, and ultimately crucified. As part of this run you carried a 2×4 down the mountain and when you made the turn to come up you put it on your shoulder, signifying you taking up your own cross to follow Him. This moment brought tears to my eyes. My body was beaten and broken down. I was exhausted. But it didn’t even compare to the agony that Jesus went through in his final day. Jesus carried his cross after being one lash away from death. I had simply gone through some tough physical exercises, the least I could do was show my appreciation for him by finishing the race. At this turn, I gained a new appreciation and vantage point of the verses from 1 Corinthians and 2 Timothy.
I realized that it wasn’t about me finishing the race out of my own pride, but it was about me finishing the race that the Lord sets out for me.
From this camp, I had to learn to lay aside my perfectionism and my controlling mindset. The Lord doesn’t ask for us to finish the race we set out for ourselves. Time and time again, we find ourselves so far from our original plans, goals, and dreams. Heck, 3 years ago I didn’t know what Lipscomb was and would have told you there is no way I’m moving more than 3 hours from home for college. Little did I know I’d end up here and twice as far as I wanted to be. Our plans and aspirations for our own lives are so handicapped to what the Lord has in store for us. Letting go and living in the moment to become more and more like Jesus every day is what he calls us to, and when we learn to embody that, the Lord will bless our future more than we could have ever imagined.
There were so many different lessons that I learned through this camp that are tough to elaborate on in a short letter, but I wanted to try to get the gist of what I went through and some minor notes about things I learned and how the Spirit moved in my life while I was in Colorado. I can’t wait to see how I can integrate what I learned not only on the basketball court in the coming years, but in my life as I begin to figure out the next steps the Lord has in store for me.”