Always room on the bench for one more; Goshen College hoopsters expand to include faculty and clergy

Monday, January 31, 2005

Always room on the bench for one more; Goshen College hoopsters expand to include faculty and clergy

GOSHEN, Ind. – You’ve heard the expression “there’s no ‘I’ in team.” For Goshen College Maple Leaf basketball, not everyone on the team even has a number. College faculty and staff and community clergy now share the bench with the players and coaches, as part of the team for a game, as both the men’s and women’s teams welcome mentors from across the campus community and wider Goshen area.

For the third consecutive year, faculty members were invited to be the men’s team “faculty coach of the game” which involves sitting on the bench as well as joining them for preparation in the locker room before and after the game and during half time.

Head coach Stan Daugherty sees the program as a way for the faculty at Goshen to get to know him and the team better. “I wanted the faculty to experience the games up close and to see how the team works during the game,” he said. “I also wanted them to know the life lessons that we try to teach during games. Many people think that it is just about winning and losing, but we try to use the moments in a game to teach the players about themselves and their work ethic.”

Tyler Sheerer (Jr., Jonesville, Mich.), a guard for the men’s basketball team, said, “It’s nice having the professors so close at the games as it signifies that they want us to succeed not only in the classroom, but on the basketball court and in life in general. It tells the team that the professors care about us not only as students, but also as individuals.”

Teammate Eric Walsh (Jr., Rochester, Ind.), a forward for the Leafs, added that the program “is a pretty rewarding experience for all parties involved because as a player, you get to show your professors something you may know a little bit more about than they do.”

Daugherty noted that each year of the program has brought more enthusiasm and interest from the faculty. “Everyone seems to enjoy being up close and behind the scenes,” he said. “Some bring cookies, some bring signs and a few even want to bring a new play – although we haven’t used any of those yet.”

Roger Nafziger, director of development, joined the team as faculty coach in November during a game against Indiana University-South Bend and enjoyed getting to know the players and coaches better. “What a great group of people!” he said. “You can’t help but come away from the evening with a strong sense that the coaches are knowledgeable, professional and dedicated and that the players have great respect for their coaches and their teammates.”

While he admitted that it was “a little strange” to sit on the bench with the team, he noted that the players were appreciative of his presence and helped him to “feel a part of the team for that one night.”

As of late January, the men’s record was 16 wins and eight losses.

Local clergy and faculty are interacting with the women’s team as well through a new initiative called “Pray With the Leafs.” After last year’s successful season and conference championship win, the team wanted to increase interaction with the college and the greater Goshen community. “We were looking for something different that might appeal to some people who had heard about us and had thought about coming before, but who never got around to it,” said head coach Steve Wiktorowski. “It has gone very well and has brought some people into our games for their first exposure to GC athletics. All of the feedback from the pastors has been positive, with many saying they would enjoy doing it again.”

Through the “Pray with the Leafs” program, local clergy are invited to give the opening public prayer before home games and bring members of their church or youth group for free admission to the game. The same opportunity is also extended to Goshen College faculty and staff, who can invite family and up to 10 other guests to attend the game for free.

“Goshen College is an institution where faith is very important, and this holds true in our athletic teams as well,” said Jennifer Rupp (Jr., Pettisville, Ohio), also a guard. “By praying before our games, it helps us to bridge the gap that can sometimes exist between athletics and faith. For me personally, I appreciate the opportunity to participate in athletics in an environment that also holds faith at a high level.”

Said Kortney Hanson (Sr., Huntington, Ind.), a guard on the women’s basketball team, “This is a positive way to get the community involved with other aspects of Goshen College that they may not be too familiar with. It is always wonderful and exciting to see people from the community participate, and this is one way to show them how great our program has become.”

The women’s team, began their season ranked 18th in the nation in the NAIA. The team has four new first-year players, two sophomores, three juniors and three seniors. As of late January, the women’s record was 10 wins and 15 losses.

Goshen College, established in 1894, is a four-year residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit www.goshen.edu

– by Melanie Histand

Editors: For more information about this release, to arrange an interview or request a photo, contact Goshen College News Bureau Director Jodi H. Beyeler at (574) 535-7572 or jodihb@goshen.edu.

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Goshen College, established in 1894, is a residential Christian liberal arts college rooted in the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. The college’s Christ-centered core values – passionate learning, global citizenship, compassionate peacemaking and servant-leadership – prepare students as leaders for the church and world. Recognized for its unique Study-Service Term program, Goshen has earned citations of excellence in Barron’s Best Buys in Education, “Colleges of Distinction,” “Making a Difference College Guide” and U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition, which named Goshen a “least debt college.” Visit www.goshen.edu.

Categories: Athletics