Johnson University athletes began trickling back into town on August 11 in preparation for the upcoming athletic seasons. Women soccer players were the first to arrive, staying at a nearby private school until they were able to move into Johnson Hall dormitory. Male soccer players arrived the next day and stayed in players’ homes around town. Cross-country, volleyball, tennis and golf players all began arriving on Sunday, the 16th to move into their respective dorms.
Athletes rise before sunrise to begin conditioning for the days and weeks of athleticism ahead of them. It is a quiet atmosphere, as very few people are around campus, giving the student athletes time to transition back into collegiate teambuilding. While a great deal of time is spent on physical conditioning, there is other valuable conditioning happening as well. Teammates must get to know one another and form strong bonds of trust that hold true when performance is lacking. They must learn to communicate under pressure and work towards the common good of the team. Skills and tactics must be learned and understood at a very quick pace. In order to deepen these bonds, team devotions begin with a good bit of sharing spiritual and personal experiences by coaches and players. The JUTN Athletic Department believes that service is an integral aspect of spiritual growth. Each year various teams demonstrate a greater commitment to this goal of service in their homes and communities. This year the men and women’s soccer teams volunteered their services to help move a new professor into their campus home. The cross-country team spent hours spreading muddy mulch on the bare, red clay areas of the athletic site hills. Volleyball players had the opportunity to help at the Ronald McDonald House. They were able to help families who were going through a difficult time by making sure they had a clean and comfortable place to stay. Our golf team helped the local golf course they practice on with a variety of maintenance and clean up items. Furthermore, the men’s soccer team replaced a hail-damaged roof in south Knoxville and another where the leaking roof needed sheeting replaced. They also cleaned University vehicles in preparation for the new semester.
This emphasis on selfless service may seem odd when compared to most athletic cultures; however, because of the transformative power of the gospel, our JU Royals train not only their bodies, but also their hearts and minds in order to better serve others. We are proud to say that Johnson University athletics supports Christian men and women who want to serve others and accomplish great things in the name of Christ on and off the field. Please pray for them as they condition their bodies, hearts, and minds for service, education and improvement.
Written by JUTN Athletic Director, Ken Underwood