By Nick Groenewold as told to Maddie Schaafsma
As soon as I was able to walk, I had a soccer ball at my feet. But my soccer journey really began at Timothy Christian. I played Varsity soccer for three years at Timothy. The soccer program at Timothy not only helped me grow my love for the sport, but it also helped me develop a solid relationship with Christ. My coaches cared about my performance on the field, but they challenged me to grow my faith off the field. What I had in common with my coaches was so key: We both loved the game, but we loved the Lord more.
After graduating from Timothy, I went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was important for me to me to go to a school where I could continue praising God and playing soccer. I felt prepared for college because Timothy gave me a strong academic and spiritual foundation. I knew who I was and what I believed.
Being on Calvin’s soccer team continued to help shape me into the man I am today. I did not get much playing time my freshman year, but this only inspired me and forced me to work harder. With a ton of hard work, and continuing to keep God at my core, I was a starter my sophomore year. Our motto for the team was: To stand firm in one spirit. This still remains a major theme in my life. My coach and my teammates taught me the most important thing is to be a good, diligent man on and off the field.
At the end of my soccer career at Calvin, I had the honor of being named Calvin’s Male Athlete of the Year. It was so humbling for me. I had a passion for the game and knowing I worked so hard the past four years to earn this, was so rewarding.
Playing soccer all my life has not only shaped me as a person, but as a Christian too. The game of soccer has taught me perseverance, even through the hardest obstacles. Timothy and Calvin both taught me it is such a blessing to not only be teammates, but to be brothers in Christ as well. Soccer taught me how to form strong relationships that will help you through life; in the happy moments and through the struggles.
The next stop on my journey, is a new and completely unexpected one. God has led me to Tasmania to play professional soccer. I not only want to become a better player, but I want to show God’s light. My goal is to do good and show love wherever God leads me. Even though I graduated from TC five years ago, I still remember one of the main lessons from my soccer coaches: To love others and encourage them in faith. As I head to Tasmania to play soccer, sharing my faith is my ultimate goal.
About the author: Maddie Schaafsma, junior at Timothy Christian Schools, has attended TC since pre-school. She has been playing soccer all her life and has been on Timothy's Varsity team since freshman year. Writing is her passion, and she hopes to be a reporter for ABC news one day! Above all, Maddie strives to serve and glorify the Lord in all she does.