The Away Game on Home Court
Contributing Author: Mrs. Alicia Anderson, Varsity Girls Basketball Coach
The Trinity Christian high school basketball teams had an incredible year last year, with lots to be proud of and the hardware to prove it. However, the highlight of the season came in a game with no Warrior team on the court.
Two of the girls’ teams in our division hail from boarding schools that cater to troubled youth. Due to lack of facilities and local boosters, these girls play all of their games on the road with very few people, if any, cheering for them from the stands. Over the years we have made it a point to be friendly to both teams and to do our best to include them in the family atmosphere of TCS.
Thus, perhaps, it was no surprise that when these teams were slated to play each other that Bud Swanson got the call to see if we could accommodate a request to make our gym available for their game. He said yes, made the arrangements, and cleared other activities off the calendar for the agreed upon night.
Little did we know at the time how the Spirit would make this an occasion to move in multiple hearts. An idea germinated within our girls team, after which everyone involved in the basketball program got to work to see it to fruition: teams, coaches, fans, parents, Willow Hills church, various others. Even a non-affiliated local youth group, upon catching wind of the plans, began praying in earnest and volunteered to come to do this at the time of the big event. All put their talents and gifts to use to achieve our mutual primary goal of making Christ look good to a watching world. Turns out, this evening, when our teams weren’t playing in the gym, turned into one to remember.
The expectation that night for both of the competing teams involved was to drive several miles to play in a mostly empty gym, then to get back on the van, eat a sack dinner, and head back to the boarding school.
So imagine their surprise when they walked into a packed gym, with music thumping and cheers erupting upon their entrance. The fans, evenly divided, wore t-shirts and headbands and face paint with the two schools’ colors. Hand decorated signs with player names and numbers and drawings of mascots adorned each side of the court. Later, after a lively introduction and a vigorous game including half-time entertainment, the girls’ night was only half over.
We continued the evening by celebrating the end of all our regular seasons together with a pizza party after the game. Willow Hills Church chipped in with supplies and pizza, while parents and players provided sides and sundaes. We asked their permission to share a testimony before we ate, and one of our TCS boys shared his journey to faith and the Good News of Christ. After Pastor Whitney, prayed we all ate in circles on the floor to get to know one another better. All in all, it was a great evening and the hospitality well received.
And then . . . when we thought it couldn’t get better, one of the teams gets up together and commandeered the microphone. Each girl, including the coach, said that they had never seen love like this anywhere and the world would be a better place with this kind of love. They thanked us and one, speaking to the microphone, said how she “wanted to know more about God because of how different TCS was and also because of the testimony I’ve heard.” After this, beyond what anyone of us could conjure up ourselves; the Spirit of God moved in a mighty way. The girls with coach and teachers from their school openly began asking questions of Jesus and faith of those they dined with, in circles that included students, parents, administrators and players all mixed together. Conversations erupted. Some asked outright how to be saved, where faith comes from, and what the Bible is about. Others asked for prayer and to be prayed over, asking for someone to come and teach them about Jesus, how to be saved, and know truth. People held hands, laid on hands, prayed out loud, shared more Gospel testimonies, and even cried together.
It was an amazing thing to see and a humbling thing to be a part of. One of our students reflected on the night saying, “Coach, this is what we live for!” Yes, knowing Jesus and making Him known IS what we live for and we were so amazed and humbled to be part of a great night.
We have continued to make contact as we are allowed with these girls. We continue to pray for more opportunities to reach out, and to hopefully be able to share more of Christ and ourselves with them.
Please pray that we would continue to be able to witness through sports in such ways, ministering through the game, showing up when called, and exhibiting amazement with Jesus. Please pray that we are ready with an answer to why we are different and where our love comes from. Even when not planning big events that we would respond to the opportunities as they are placed in front of us.
Alicia Anderson started coaching for Trinity in 2013 as Head coach of Girls High School Basketball. Alicia is passionate about sports and the discipleship that comes along with it here at Trinity. She recently won the Vinny Sportsmanship of the Year Award for 2019-2020 from the Canyon Athletic Association (CAA). Alicia and her husband Al, have 2 daughters.