True Inner Workings

I’ll always remember praying with the Men’s Basketball team before their national championship.


As Athletic Director at IWU, one of my favorite parts of the job is the opportunity I have to watch all of our teams compete. I love all sports and get a true enjoyment out of watching our talented athletes use their gifts in a sport that they love. Traveling to the national tournament to watch our team brings that enjoyment to an even higher level because our coaches are gracious enough to invite me to join them in their team meetings. These meetings consist of game video analysis, strategy talks, devotional thoughts and prayer time. When I sit in these meetings, I feel like I am observing the “inner workings” of Wildcat Basketball…the non-glamorous component necessary for any team to be successful but a part that many non-team members never have the opportunity to see or understand.


Monday night after the semi-final win against Davenport I was sitting in just such a meeting. The meeting started off with a short talk about Saint Francis, our opponent in the next day’s national championship game, and then the coaches moved into a devotional time using Acts 4 as the scripture reference. I could spend 10 pages writing about the words of wisdom that were brought to the team that evening, words that were clearly inspired by the Holy Spirit. But what I will remember most is the prayer time that followed the devotion.


There were three specific prayers the team prayed night, one of which was for our upcoming opponent. To be in a room full of young men lifting their hearts and voices up to the Lord in prayer is an incredible experience and one that brought chills to my spine and tears to my eyes. But to experience college student athletes sincerely and passionately praying for their next day’s national championship opponent is something that I will never forget!


In today’s world of athletics, coaches love to use war analogies to communicate performance expectations to their teams and they commonly refer to their opponents as the enemy. IWU athletics strives to be counter-cultural to the world of athletics and the prayer time that night was a perfect example.


When the meeting ended that Monday night, I did not know if we would win the national championship the next day, but there were a couple of things that I did know;


1.     I knew that our guys would play with a FEARLESSNESS and FREEDOM that can only come when you are truly playing for God’s glory.


2.     I knew that no matter the outcome of the game, our guys had already won the victory that matters most. They understood that the score was less important than their relationship with Christ AND their witness to all those who had their eyes on the next night’s game.


I knew these things because we are blessed with coaches that are committed to the TRUE “inner-workings” of building a successful team.  Getting the opportunity to lead a group of coaches like this across all sports is what makes us truly '16 Teams, 1 Program.'

-Mark DeMichael