This week, Noah and Bjorn spoke with Ainsley Goble, Luke Sacilowski, Santi Martin and Zach Eisenman. All four are high school athletes in Western New York.
Ainsley is a senior and plays softball for both her travel team and Hamburg High School’s varsity team. Luke, who is a junior at Hamburg High School, also plays hockey for both a travel team and Hamburg’s school team. He is a forward for Hamburg’s team and a defenseman for his travel team.
Santi is from Lakeview and attends St. Mary’s High School, where he is a junior. Santi plays soccer for the school’s varsity team.
Zach also attends Hamburg High School. He is both a swimmer and golfer on Hamburg’s varsity team, in addition to swimming year-round for a travel team.
What Has God Been Teaching Luke and Santi This Past Year?
“He’s been teaching me patience. It’s a tough time, but just be patient and everything will work out” -Luke Sacilowski
Luke says that one thing God has been teaching him this year is patience. Patience, whether over cancelled school events or cancelled hockey games and practices, has been an area where he has really needed God’s help this year.
In hockey, junior year is the year that is most important for being scouted. Because of this, it has been easy for Luke to feel impatient about the fact that scouts might not be able to observe him in ways that they might have in previous years, along with the fact that some practices, games and tournaments are going to be cancelled.
However, God has helped him be patient and feel more at ease with these facts. Instead of spending time stressing about potential missed opportunities or what the future holds, Luke has seen that God has helped him to be patient and not spend as much time worrying about these things. He has realized that he needs to focus on the present and trust God’s plan for the future.
Another lesson that God has been teaching Luke is problem solving.
Junior year is often the busiest year of high school, and the complications of online schooling has added even more to his plate.
Instead of being able to physically attend school five days a week, he now has to try to stay organized at home, while still finding time in his schedule for the hockey activities that are still going on.
Luke feels that God has assisted him and helped him learn how to navigate all of this in creative ways, leading to a more organized and stress-free year than he otherwise would have experienced.
“He’s showing me how to persevere. It’s tough balancing a new school and a new schedule, but through the rough patches I know that God is there” -Santi Martin
Santi feels that God has taught him to be extremely grateful this past year. While it would be easy to get discouraged due to everything that has changed as a result of COVID-19, Santi says that God has helped him to see and appreciate the gifts and opportunities that he still has in his life.
Many seniors missed out on spring sports last school year because of them getting cancelled. While this year is not ideal, Santi feels thankful that God has allowed him to attend school five days a week at Saint Mary’s and still have a soccer season.
In addition to gratefulness, God has also taught Santi how to persevere.
This year is Santi’s first year at Saint Mary’s, which he transferred to so that he can attend in-person classes five days a week during his junior year. While he has enjoyed Saint Mary’s, he says that balancing both a new school and a new schedule is tough.
Santi credits God for giving him the ability to handle these changes and push through the rough patches. He knows that during the rough patches God is there to not only provide him with wisdom, but also to lean on and help him through.
Is It Difficult for Ainsley and Zach to Live Out Their Faith on Their Sports Teams?
“The older I’ve gotten and the more confident I’ve grown in my faith, the easier it’s become” -Ainsley Goble
For Ainsley, living out her faith on her softball teams has become easier over time. When she was younger and played her first year of travel softball, it came as a bit of a culture shock due to the fact there were a lot of people that had different views and beliefs than her.
In addition to this culture shock, Ainsley feels that when people are younger they are more apt to believe what they’re told by their family and hold the same opinions as their parents.
This resulted in an environment where it was difficult to share her faith.
However, as she’s grown older Ainsley has become more comfortable with both her teammates and her faith.
She has also seen that once people grow up they are more willing to have discussions and form their own opinions. Over time, this has helped her have more conversations with her teammates and friends about her faith.
“It is [difficult] … you’re stepping into places where people have very different points of view and very different beliefs” -Zach Eisenman
Zach says that it has been difficult for him to live out his faith on his sports teams. Part of what makes it so difficult for him is stepping into situations where many people have very different beliefs than him.
Even if openly discussing faith is difficult, something that Zach always tries to do is show Christ through his actions by loving his teammates and treating them with respect.
This presents its own set of challenges. In sports there are a lot of emotions involved that can make it hard to act in a way that you would be proud of.
In addition, you interact with many different people when you are part of a sports team. Every person we interact with is not going to be our favorite person, and there are going to be days when our teammates get on our nerves.
Zach says that he tries his best to display love not only to the teammates who are his closest friends, but also to teammates he might not be as close with.
Something he has learned is that it doesn’t matter if we are good friends with someone or if we have nothing in common with them; we still need to love and accept them.
What is God Teaching You?
Santi made an important point when talking about how God has shown him how to be grateful.
While it might feel like there is not much to be grateful for this year, we still need to recognize the blessings that are in our lives. God has provided, and will continue to provide, us with blessings in ways that we might not have noticed.
Time away from work, sports, or any number of things that may have been affected this year, can feel discouraging. But are there blessings here that we may not have noticed?
Maybe this blessing is time that we get to spend with our family or loved ones that previously would have been spent elsewhere. Or perhaps we’ve been provided extra time to focus on and develop areas of our lives that otherwise would have gone ignored.
God has a plan and we need to be patient and trust him. We can’t do everything on our own, and sometimes we need to take a step back and let God take control.
Zach’s discussion of the difficulty he faces living out his faith on his sports team is also something that can be relatable.
When we are around those who hold different views and beliefs than us, it can be easy to feel intimidated and isolated. We can be left scared to share our faith. This is a challenge that many people have gone through and struggled with.
While we can no doubt show the love of God to others through our actions, it is also important to talk with others about our faith.
It is our job to share our faith with others and plant a seed of faith in their mind. What they choose to do with this seed may be up to them, but we have a responsibility to make sure the seed is planted.
Sometimes we are going to face rejection from those around us who we choose to share our faith with. We have to try our best to not be discouraged by this, and it is still our job to accept these people and show them God’s love.
However, there are also going to be times when those who we share our faith with take this information and begin to form their own relationship with God. From here, we can help them grow.
While we are no doubt going to face rejection, we are also going to see examples of sharing our faith making a positive impact on the lives of those around us. You don’t know whose life you can positively affect until you take a leap.
What blessings do you see in your life that you might not have previously noticed? Are you being patient and trusting in God’s plan?
Are there people in your life who you can take a leap and share your faith with?
2 Timothy 1:8-9
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
To hear the discussion that Noah and Bjorn had with Ainsley, Luke, Santi and Zach about their experiences with sports and school during 2020, as well as their experiences with sports and faith, check out “The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” episode 30.