Weekly Bible Study Keeps Soccer Team Strong Despite Separation

April 8, 2020 / Andrea Wenger
Curt Stutzman, assistant girls varsity soccer coach, leads prayer for team's virtual Bible study
Curt Stutzman, assistant girls varsity soccer coach, leads prayer for team's virtual Bible study

Before the full spring athletic season’s games were officially canceled, but students were out of school, the girls varsity soccer team shared a team building activity on Google Meet in which they created bookmarks.

“The bookmark was a reminder that we are in this together,” explains coach Andrew Gascho, who is also athletic director. “Each time we saw it we would remember our teammates.”

When the final decision came that the season was cancelled, Gascho wondered about still meeting as a team. One of the team captains had the idea of doing a Bible Study over Google Meet. Since then, they have been meeting every Monday over Google Meet, working through the book of Ephesians.

They open each meeting with sharing, both serious and not so serious, such as they’ve been streaming on Netflix. After sharing, the girls talk about something meaningful from the chapter they all read. The time closes with prayer requests and prayer. “We often will talk more after just for fun,” says Gascho.

As a coach, “this has been a powerful, player led, experience.” During the season, the team has devotions before each game, and this is taking the place of that. “But it has also given the chance for the team to connect over scripture on a deeper level. I’ve experienced a deeper vulnerability from myself, as well as the players. These Bible Studies have been a bright spot in the midst of the grieving we are walking through as a team as we process the loss of the season.”

Abby Stapleton, a senior forward who has played varsity since eighth grade, agrees.

“Our soccer team has always been unique because of the strong sense of community Coach Gascho has built. Everyone there cares about each other and wants each other to succeed despite any personal differences.”

Finding out the season was cancelled was “crushing,” Abby says. “But our weekly virtual meetings have been very beneficial for me. Not only has it provided me with the opportunity to hear from friends who I have had no other contact with since in-person classes ended, but it has also helped encourage me to continue growing in my faith, which has been one of my main goals during this time off.”

Times like this test your faith, reflects Abby. “It is really nice to have this time with people I trust and that care about me to continue with my spiritual journey.”

Ava Galgano ’20, who has also played since 8th grade and was named a student-athlete of the week on WHSV, agrees.

“For me, our Bible study is a constant through all of the change. Our team has always been devoted to strengthening our relationship with Christ and caring for one another… This time has helped remind me that, although this soccer season didn’t really go as planned, I have created relationships that will last far longer than the few months of our season.”

It’s also been good, Abby says, to observe younger teammates and think about what this experience will mean for them in seasons to come. ” I hope they keep the community connected for next soccer season, and I can’t wait to come back and see them play next year!”

Ava concludes, “Yes, we are disappointed, but I am so incredibly grateful for this team and this community that will forever be in my heart.”

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