Christian athletes find balance

By Garrett Jones, Contributing Writer

Being an athlete requires a competitive edge.

Emotions can overwhelm an athlete into saying some offensive things in a game.

While being competitive is a big part of succeeding as an athlete, Christian athletes can have a hard time balancing their image as a Christian and using that competitive edge.

“In high school, a guy called me the ‘n word’ and I retaliated,” freshman journalism major Trejan Lands said. “I said some things that looking back on might not have been the best.”

Lands is a football player at OBU. His relationship with Christ plays an important role in his personal and athletic life.

Playing for a Christian school sets a different expectation on athletes. Everyone watching them knows what kind of attitude to expect.

“Un-Christlike behavior got you a spot on the bench,” Will Hodges said.

Hodges was a State Championship winning baseball player for Christian Heritage Academy.

“[Maintaining the Christian Image] is the hardest part, but it’s also the number one goal,” Hodges said.

Showing signs off un-Christlike behavior could earn a player more than a spot on the bench.

Players can receive reputations based on what they do on the field that reflects who they are off of the field.

“Last game of the season against SNU, I pushed a guy, but it looked like I punched him,” Lands said. “I got backlash from the guys on the radio and my coaches. It really takes a toll on how I have to act on and off the field because I might get backlash off the field as well.”

While trying to maintain the image of Christ may take away a level of competitiveness from some, a relationship with Christ could be what it takes to perform at the next level.

“For me personally, a relationship with Christ makes me more competitive,” Hodges said. “I think of 1 Corinthians 10:31 ‘So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all things to the Glory of God.’ If I’m not playing hard, I don’t feel as if I’m glorifying God. God gave me the gifts to play sports and if I’m not using them, I’m not bringing honor to His name.”

The athletic culture is not always seen as Christian. The attitude shown by some athletes and the music associated with the culture are not often represented in the Christian community.

“People think just because you’re an athlete, you can’t be a Christian,” Lands said. “I can listen to hip-hop but I still go to church and pray every night.”

Some athletes use the non-Christian culture as an opportunity to witness.

“I think that being a Christian athlete is an excellent opportunity to be a witness for Christ,” former Arkansas All-Conference Team basketball player Noah Hill said. “You have the opportunity to build deep relationships with teammates. There is nothing like going through tough practices, hard workouts and long seasons to bring out a deep bond with teammates.”

Competitiveness is not the only component which makes athletes lash out at referees and opponents. Factor in the one thing every person struggles with, sin, and the same results appear.

“I crossed the line more than I’m proud of, but I don’t think it was from being too competitive, but more from being immature in my relationship with Christ,” Hill said. “I spent more time worrying about my jump shot than building my relationship with Jesus.”

Rock climbing club welcomes all

By Easton Oliver, Contributing Writer

OBU’s Climbing Club is searching for anyone who is willing to elevate their competition this fall.

The OBU Climbing Club offers a community for those looking to get into the climbing scene.

Participants see this club as more “alternative” than a traditional club sport, like flag football or soccer.

Regardless, it’s a rapidly growing scene in Oklahoma.

The recent establishment of climbing gyms in nearby metropolitan areas, like Threshold in Oklahoma City and ClimbUP in Norman, has brought renewed interest to climbing in Oklahoma.

Jacob Cunningham, member of the climbing team, struggled with a lack of climbing area before he came to OBU.

He has since been fascinated by the OBU rock climbing.

“I’ve always wanted to climb,” Cunningham said. “I lived two hours away from a climbing gym. When I came [to OBU], it was right here. It was accessible.”

Co-captain of the climbing club Josie Edgar believes that climbing has brought people together in the long run.

“I think that what’s really appealing about the sport is the community,” Edgar said. “It’s a really encouraging community, especially here at OBU. I think that we are good at doing that in a Christ-like manner.”

When it comes to the climbing team, one of their large focuses is competition. The team will travel around the state, and sometimes outside of it, to test themselves against other teams.

“We have a lot more competing members than we used to have,” Ed-gar said.

As the team grows, they’ll become more competitive at the upcoming rounds of fall competitions. Edgar said she’s confident in the future for the team as a whole.

“Everyone is really working to get better, so I think that we’ll perform well at competition this semester,” Edgar said.

The climbing club is not only about competition. Members who train individually can succeed just as well as someone who prefers to train with a group of people.

“We are a team, but it’s also a sport that’s very focused toward individual improvement,” Josie said. “So, if there’s someone who really likes to focus on self-improvement and getting stronger themselves, then it’s a really good sport for that. It’s a full body workout every time.”

The community aspect of the climbing team is a theme that consistently keeps members together.

“The community is super, super sick. I love all the people that are in the climbing club,” Cunningham said. “Even if you don’t want to compete, or aren’t good at it, if you’re enjoying it, definitely still join.”

Though the forty-foot wall may be daunting for some, Cunningham believes that there is no harm in trying.

“I think everybody should try it,” Cunningham said. “You should try everything once. If it’s your thing, then it’s your thing. You should definitely join the club if you find yourself enjoying it.”

Students interested in being part of climbing club don’t have to look far to get involved.

“Come to the wall and get plugged in with the community,” Edgar said. “Then ask one of the co-captains, Ben Dingus or me – about joining up with the club. We currently have several open spots that we’re looking to fill.”

More than that, it’s all about coming together, Cunningham said.

“Keep climbing, get better and hang out with us,” Cunningham said.