Diane Banderas, Volleyball
University of Nebraska Omaha
If you had asked me two years ago about my faith, I would have given you a very cookie –cutter answer.
My dad and grandpa were both huge spiritual influences in my life. They always told me, “God and family. If you have these two things, that’s all you need; the rest is just bonus.” Unfortunately, sometimes life happens, and in being human we tend to forget how simply having faith can turn any situation around. In the past I had always been extremely introverted when it came to my faith, preferring to pray in solitude and keep to myself.
After a few years in college, I heard about InterVarsity, a Christian group forming on campus with a new focus solely for athletes. This intrigued me because it was similar to what I had been a part of in high school. I also had connections with some of the current members. After numerous invitations to the weekly meetings, I mustered up the guts to attend.
What I found was a breath of fresh air. I had finally found a place that allowed me to share my faith in a comfortable atmosphere. In the beginning, having the support of fellow athletes was huge. It gave me support from a group of individuals that I could trust and knew I could lean on in life. This group started out so small and has grown into something much bigger.
Becoming a part of Athletes InterVarsity has been a huge turning point in my spiritual life. I have gone from just attending the weekly meetings to becoming a member of the core group and leading my teammates through Bible studies. I feel as though God placed this group and its leaders in my life to help me spread my faith to those around me. In the process, I have formed a close bond with them.
Being an athlete is such an influential position with so many opportunities to touch others and God is using this platform to spread his Word. Through my struggles with volleyball I have truly come to realize that the sport is not what defines me. I have learned to trust in God’s plan for my life, understanding that being an athlete is simply the avenue that he has chosen for me to bring other people and me closer to him.
On road trips, I arrange meetings with my team where we can grow spiritually with each other. Every time I feel even more inspired to go further and pursue more. I would love to see God bring more of my teammates to him and my goal is to help that process by continuing to find ways of reaching them. This will not be easy since some of them are not open to discussing faith, but I plan on facing this challenge head on.
In the past few years, I have grown in my faith and identity by helping others do the same and find their way to God. Yet, as a senior, I cannot stay around forever so I want to leave a lasting impression on those that I connect with and hope it will cause a change in their faith journey.
I want to inspire others to take the lead and continue spreading God’s message to those around them. It may seem like an incredible task, but it is a building process of taking one step at a time, and amazing things can happen.
The growth I have seen in my life with the help and support from InterVarsity has been immense. The group of athletes and leaders that I have connected with through this experience have truly become like family.
So, in the end, it all goes back to those few simple words, “God and family. If you have these two things, that’s all you need; the rest is just bonus.”