Seven Georgia State student-athletes (Eliza Zachary and Deidra Bohannon of the volleyball team, Kate Rawls of the sand volleyball team and Emiere Scaife, Sebastian Willer, Trey Payne and Nate Simon of the football team) went to Fort Collins, Colo., for a week at the end of May to participate in the Ultimate Training Camp. Zachary is interning in the sports communications office this summer and recorded her account of the trip.
Every Tuesday night, Athletes in Action meets and discusses ways to incorporate God into our sports. It is a place where student-athletes can congregate and help each other get past obstacles that comes with the college lifestyle. The leaders presented the opportunity to take part in the Ultimate Training Camp and the seven of us jumped on board.
The focus of the camp was to teach us many principles about how to play your sport with God. After each session we would go to “lab”, which was learning how to apply each lesson while playing volleyball with your designated teams.
Once we got through all five principles it was time for what they called the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. This was the main event of the camp, something everyone feared, but was excited for. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stands for Spiritual Principles + Exhaustion = Confidence in the Almighty Lord. For S.P.E.C.I.A.L., teams were selected through a mock draft where captains from each team selected players (there were twenty teams). Deidra, Emiere, and I were chosen out of 150 athletes of be captains for S.P.E.C.I.A.L., which was a huge honor.
Summarizing S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is hard. It was twenty hours of activity, with 2-3 hours of sleep in between each day. The first day started at 5:30 pm on Tuesday and ended at around 1 a.m. the next day. The first day’s events ranged from ultimate frisbee, to tug-of-war, basketball, swimming, and even relays. The first day is really when everyone struggled with learning how not to rely on their own strength, but surrender to God to give you strength to push through.
The start of the second day depended on what place your team came in. This dictated the amount of time you were able to sleep. For example, my team finished in the middle, so we got about two and a half hours of sleep. Our event the next day started at 4:30 a.m. The first event was an obstacle course around the Colorado State Campus which was about 3.5 miles long. Then we played five or six rounds of kickball and a relay that truly brought everyone to their breaking point (this was not even the last event).
The last event was Golgotha. This event by far was the most humbling for not only me but all the athletes at the camp. Before we started, our Pastor rounded us up and retold the story of Jesus’s journey to the cross. He explained to us that all the events during S.P.E.C.I.A.L. are a representation of the journey Jesus took to his death. After he read a passage from Mathew of Jesus’ last words on the cross we started. During this event you took a 2×4 plank and ran down a Level 5 hill with the plank at your side. Once you reached the bottom you pick the plank up and put it on your shoulders, draping your arms over the top, and ran back up the hill. In total this hill is about a mile, which is not that long but after twenty hours of activity it feels like a 5K.
This event alone really changed my view on life and sports. As I made my journey back up the hill I thought about how the pain I was feeling right now was nothing compared to what He went through just to save me.
On the last day of camp everyone got the chance to share what they have learned from their experience, which was truly moving to hear. I believe that this trip taught all of us wonderful lessons about our lives and our sports. I learned so much about being a leader and how to play my sport not for God, but with Him. We all made great connections with a lot of people at camp, especially the members of our S.P.E.C.I.A.L. teams. The seven of us that were fortunate enough to experience UTC are so excited to share with our teammates and families about what we’ve learned.