By Elissa Sandstrom ’10
Adapted from a speech given to new student-athletes at athletic orientation in August.
When I first came to Northwestern I had no idea of the plans that God had for me here. I thought I would just come in and do the whole college thing: play volleyball, get an education, and be on my merry way afterwards.
I soon realized that God had brought me to Northwestern for a bigger purpose than I could ever imagine. And now I can’t imagine leaving everything behind when I graduate in December. I had no idea that Northwestern would become a home filled with friends and mentors that will truly last a lifetime.
When I came to Northwestern I wasn’t sure what the difference was between Christian and non-Christian teams. In the back of my mind, I thought volleyball was going to be something that we did, but didn’t really try at or care about. That is, it wasn’t our main priority because we were not getting athletic scholarships to play and it didn’t really matter if we won or lost.
However, on my first day of tryouts I was awakened to find out that effort did matter! Right away the returning players were going all out, and I kind of took a step back and thought, “Hey, this is just like before!” The difference was that the team cared more about my character as a person and making God look good, than the outcome on the scoreboard.
Our theme two years ago was “Fixed on the Eternal” and one of our captains put our purpose wonderfully during devotions before a game. There is the actual scoreboard that counts points and determines the outcome of the game; however, there is another scoreboard that weighs eternal significance, and when the game is over, we should care more about that scoreboard than the other.
Between classes and friends, my favorite thing at Northwestern is athletics. It is so much fun getting a bunch of friends together before a big football game and having a tailgate party, or going to a men’s basketball game when all the fans are standing and the score is tied 71-71 with three seconds left in the second half.
But Eagle athletics are truly unique in the fact that your coaches and teammates are more concerned about you than the outcome of the game. We have all been in the place where we have still won the game when our heart wasn’t there, or we put our blood and sweat on the line just to wind up losing. It is easy to get caught up in winning, but being an Eagle has taught me that it is not about winning or personal satisfaction, but rather playing to honor Christ.
Regardless of the score, we play 100 percent in order to show Christ to the other teams. So remember this fall, as you go through everything for the first time, your purpose is to bring Him glory!