The women’s soccer team works hard and recognizes what happens on the field is important. It has also realized true victory comes when God is at work in the team on and off the field.
The past few years have been filled with an effort to produce unity among the players and develop a purpose in the heart of the team.
Captain and senior Maria Stordahl has been a part of creating this central
part of the team’s culture.
The seniors knew a unified purpose and direction was crucial in order for them to lead the rest of the team. The first step was communal prayer.
“We learned you can’t lead anyone you’re not in constant prayer for,” said Stordahl.
The team spent one of its first evenings together around a campfire establishing the culture it desired before preseason practices began this fall. Upperclassmen modeled vulnerability by sharing personal testimonies, inviting the rest of the team to do the same. Sophomore Chloe Cargnelutti said the evening initiated a season of transparency and open hearts.
Senior Brittney Lawrence transferred to ORU last fall. Lawrence said she knew practically nothing about God when she came, but now she is developing a relationship with Christ due to the influence of her teammates and the environment they created.
“This year has really just been a time of trying to find myself in Christ and discover His plan for my life,” said Lawrence.
The team prioritized sharing testimonies, and engaging in prayer, worship, and Bible studies together, allowing them to grow closer to God and make Him the center of all things.
“We want to be the best possible athletes we can be and compete at the highest possible level, but we also want to grow as women and in character, as well as in our spiritual walk with God,” Stordahl said.
Freshmen Marina Solberg and Tatum Grigsby began feeling at home as they caught the vision and played a role in establishing the team’s culture.
“I can feel the presence of God in our team,” Solberg said. “When you’re playing for a specific purpose, that’s when you start seeing God move.”
Grigsby said there have been radical changes in the way her teammates see themselves and God. “Now that their ‘why’ is God, they play with more heart, skill and fire for the game and for one another,” she said.
Junior Caitlyn Hanslovan has seen evidence of this change.
“For a long time I was scared of what other people would think about me if I developed a true relationship with Christ and gave my life to Him,” Hanslovan said. “Instead of falling back on God and trusting Him in tough situations, I fell on other things that eventually drew me further away from Him.”
A former teammate sharing her testimony of the transformation God had brought in her life over the summer was a powerful moment for Hanslovan.
“That was the first time I had ever seen first-hand someone’s life be completely transformed by God,” Hanslovan said. “It helped me realize no matter where you’re at in life, God still loves you.”
Since then, Hanslovan has taken every opportunity to grow in her relationship with Christ.
On Aug. 28, Hanslovan proclaimed her faith by being baptized. She was moved to tears by the support of her teammates in the moment.
“It was truly an incredible day I will never forget,” Hanslovan said. “I felt like a new person. For the first time, I had something I could really smile about—knowing that I am a child of God and He will always love me no matter what.”
The team looks forward to seeing what God has in store for each player.
Stordahl said she desires for her teammates to continue to meet God, find their identity in Him and attend church.
“Those small victories maybe no one else gets to see, those are the big victories for our team,” Stordahl said. “That will always be our biggest desire and the most important thing.”
The heart of the women’s soccer team desires to continue seeing lives changed by Jesus in radical ways, and this season is only the beginning.