Finding a university is a major life milestone and extremely challenging to find that “right” fit. Finding a university with a competitive college soccer team with girls that are in love with Jesus just as much as they love soccer sounds like an impossible task. But is what I found at Union and what makes Union University women’s soccer so special. The primary reason I love the soccer team here at Union is the friendships. All the the girls on the team are so sweet, genuine, and down to earth. For example, coming in as a freshman even the Seniors were welcoming, encouraging, and made everyone feel important. It is amazing how close we all are. My teammates really are like sisters to me. We laugh together, cry together, survive preseason together, hold each other accountable, and encourage each other. I specifically remember after one hard game, I was really frustrated and upset yet all the girls were really encouraging. They were there comforting me and helped me regain perspective and mentally prepared for the next game. I began to realize how truly connected the team is when, in off season, after only a week, I missed seeing all my teammates daily. After only one semester I honestly feel like I have known the girls on the team forever and love them so much already. The friendships on the team is one of the many reasons why I love playing soccer at Union.
Another major reason why I love being on the soccer team here at Union is that it is not just about soccer. Coach Isaac Brooks and Coach Julie Stauffer encourage all of us to compete at a very high level but also grow in our spiritual lives. I remember in highschool when I was being recruited Coach Isaac and Coach Julie made a point to stress that they were looking for players strong in their faith not just strong on the field. That really stood out to me because no other school had asked me about my faith.
Personally while I have been here at Union, I have learned that soccer does not take priority over my faith, but is a platform for it. They encourage us to be a light of Christ and be different on the field, in the classroom, and in everyday situations.
For example, one way we try to be different is we write notes to the players before each home game wishing them good luck, with verses on it, and letting them know we are praying for them. Further, after the game we ask the other team to pray with us. We love representing Christ on the field and with those small gestures but we also go beyond the field. We serve the community and go on mission trips as a team. This year as a team we are all going on a mission trip to serve in New Orleans. These are just a few examples that show that the coaches care about us as people not just as players.
Spiritual growth through soccer and friendships on the team are just two things that I love about being on the soccer team here at Union. Being able to coming to Union has been one of the greatest blessings, and I am looking forward to seeing how God will use me, our special team, and this program these next three years!
– Austen DeLoach, #19