Playing college basketball has been Rachel Skalnik’s goal since she was in the seventh grade, and now she is playing a big role for the women’s basketball team. Due to the high volume of injuries the team has had this season, Skalnik has played a significant role for the Golden Eagles during her freshman season.
Skalnik has played in every game this season, averaging 14 minutes per game and has been a mainstay in Coach Misti Cussen’s bench rotation.
“I just love playing the game. I know that might be simple or whatever, but there’s nothing like being out on the court, with a jersey on, shoe laces pulled tight, and “I Can Make Your Hands Clap” playing on the speakers,” said Skalnik. “It’s also the small things that subconsciously seem to go unnoticed: the smell of the gym on gamedays, the sound of the basketball slashing through the net, the subtle butterflies you get when coach calls your name to go in.”
After finishing her first semester here at ORU, Skalnik has seen her life impacted by her coaches and teammates as they push her to be the best she can be, on and off the court. She’s also learned from the game itself.
“I believe that basketball has taught me some very important lessons that I can integrate into my life even after I don’t play it anymore. One of the most important lessons it has taught me is that you can’t do it alone,” said Skalnik. “No matter how good you are (or how good you think you are) you always need other people. Basketball isn’t just a game; it is a tool that God is using to shape me into the person that He is calling me to be.”
Playing so much in her freshman year has also given Skalnik a chance to reflect about how coming to ORU and deciding to make this team her family for the next four years has affected her in her everyday life.
“Basically, the ORU philosophy of developing the “whole person” is being integrated into my life through the encouragement and leadership of my teammates and coaches,” she said. “I’m 100 percent sure that God had ORU set in my path the whole time.”
The team is halfway through conference play and though injuries have been an issue, the goal remains the same it has always been for the Golden Eagles.
“Ever since the beginning of the season, we have all had the mindset of winning the Summit League and making the NCAA Tournament,” said Skalnik. “All while giving glory to where glory is due.”