Keeping faith alive in athletics
By ELENA LA DOLCETTA
Faith can be seen everywhere in sports; runners who cross themselves after breaking a new record. Soccer players who celebrate their winning goal by folding their hands in prayer. The Olympic Games even began as a religious festival. On the University of Mary Washington campus some student athletes consider sports and religion to be deeply intertwined. However with their busy schedules many student athletes find it difficult to stay active in their faith.
Sophomore Rosie Kostka, a biology major, ran cross country and track for the University of Mary Washington her freshman year. This year she played for the girls Ultimate Frisbee team. Prior to coming to UMW, she ran cross country and track in high school.
When she decided to come to the University of Mary Washington she knew she wanted to keep her faith alive. She was raised Catholic and was involved in the leadership team at her youth group at her church. She realized that when she came to UMW she did not have much time to get as involved with the Catholic Campus Ministry because of how much of a time commitment school and sports were. So she met with the Chaplain at the St. John Bosco Center and asked for advice on ways to get more involved.
She said that the having a faith filled life allowed her to remain on the right path and kept her grounded to the morals of the faith. Simple ways of keeping the faith alive that she would incorporate in her performance would include saying a quick pray at the starting line. She knew that as a runner there would be suffering and pain and what helped her get through that was that she could offer it all up to God. In that there is beauty. When playing frisbee, and when she knows it will be a hard throw, she will say a quick Hail Mary Prayer, which is a Catholic prayer.
Emily Gaetjen, who is a sophomore psychology major, has been playing on the women’s Rugby team at Mary Washington. She has been playing rugby since her freshman year of highschool when her friend encouraged her to try out for a local team. She absolutely loves the comradery of the sport and how it incorporates all body types and how it helps with leadership roles. She starting growing in her faith more when her couch in high school, who was Catholic like Emily, encouraged her to get more involved with her parish, so she did.
When she came to college she started to develop a deeper relationship with Christ through a friendship with one of her teammates on rugby. Through her teammate’s love and kindness she was able to grow in her faith by joining a sports bible study which has allowed her to grow more in her Catholic faith. She also explained that even though maybe she may have a bad performance she does not get discouraged because through God she can do anything and that “win or lose I still have the Lord on my side”.