I type this blog post from an airplane seat next to my fantastic youngest sister. The cabin crew just flicked off the overhead lights and we’re supposed to pretend it’s 2am when our bodies think it’s only 8 in the evening. Ah, the wonders of overseas travel.
I haven’t written much on this blog for the past few months, so I’d love to fill those of you with whom I haven’t had much contact in before I give a brief update on what’s coming next. I returned to the States from Thailand in October after an incredible experience coaching the Thai women’s national basketball team for the summer. We finished our last event, a tournament in Vietnam, with a silver medal and returned to Thailand in time for me to fly out the next day to return to Chicago. I stay in contact with many of my friends from that four-month period and my memories and daydreams often flit back to Thai backdrops and happenings.
Newly outfitted with (albeit brief and intensely cross-cultural) head coaching experience, I arrived in Chicago on October 1st and stepped into the head women’s basketball coach position (for which I had been hired back in April) at Moody Bible Institute. We started practice October 3rd and I happily immersed myself in the throws of a basketball season once again. To add to the treat, I took up residence with Theresa and her roommates in their cozy Albany Park apartment for the duration of my tenure at Moody. It was a huge pleasure not only to live with a family member again but also to once more enjoy the perks of city life – the bustle, the skylines, the public transportation, and the riding my bike to work, as well as the unique attractions of Chicago – the lake, the proximity to my folks in the suburbs and my friends from working last year at Trinity International University, the snow, and the fantastic amenities of being on staff at Moody. Many blessings were enjoyed and fond memories made.
Our season at Moody was an interesting and often difficult one. Though we had miraculously accumulated ten players on our roster by the time we started the second semester, our squad was barraged with injury and we ended up having to cancel almost a third of our scheduled games, often practicing with only two or three people. Though morale suffered a hit, I was pleased and impressed by my players’ resilience and character. We persevered through what could have been a very discouraging season and I couldn’t have been more proud of the strides I watched each of my girls make. Though our record was dismal and our games were challenging, what was much more evident to me were the ways each of our players dove headfirst into the puzzle of making the biggest strides possible in much-less-than-optimal circumstances. I will dearly cherish the relationships God afforded me the opportunity to build while acting as coach at Moody.
However, there was a snag in the equation. My position was not full-time at Moody and, though I pursued every avenue I could to secure a supplementary post on campus to make my long-term involvment possible, those doors have yet to open. Therefore, I shared with our athletic director that I needed to begin looking for opportunities outside Moody’s walls for a more sustainable situation. We’ve now reached April and the time for hiring coaches is upon us. Though it was sad and alarming to do so, after a final conversation with my athletic director about my tumultuous outlook and inability to commit at this time to a second season at Moody should a door open for a different opportunity, we decided it would be best for the Moody women’s basketball program if I resigned. This would allow them to begin their search for another coach.
That happened this past week. I am freshly (once again) out of a coaching position and waiting to hear back from bunches of applications and feelers floating around all over the States and beyond. The beyond bit brings me to the second part of my update. My plane ride is taking me to Paris, France. Paris is our first stop in a whirlwind of European travel. Each element of the trip is a long story but here’s my itinerary in a nutshell:
- Theresa and I will meet Kim, who took some time off from her position at Intervarsity, and Ryan, who is studying abroad in Florence this semester, in Paris for a few days of sight-seeing.
- We will all then rendezvous in Florence to experience Ryan’s current slice of the world for a long weekend before Kim returns home and Ryan returns to class.
- Theresa and I, who both have a bit more freedom due to our current life situations, will venture on. We will first travel to Izmir, Turkey where I’ve connected with a few basketball coaches. I’ll most likely help work with those coaches in their practice plans, conduct practices or clinics with players, hold workshops with coaches to talk about coaching strategy, and help out in any other ways that I can.
- After a few days in Izmir, we will then hop over to Targoviste, Romania, to see some of my dearest friends that I made while in Romania two summers ago.
- Following our few-day stint in Romania, we will fly for Madrid, Spain, to meet and stay with a mutual friend who does basketball sports ministry.
- Theresa will then leave from Madrid to return to the States. Her departure will be on May 1st.
- I will then make my way to Kiev, Ukraine, to meet friends who do FCA sport ministry there. It sounds like I may have the opportunity to play some pickup with professional women’s teams, volunteer for a women’s basketball tournament or event, and perhaps speak or run clinics for basketball coaches to share what I’ve learned about coaching thus far.
- Following my time in Kiev, I will venture to Montpellieur, France, to take part in a coaches’ retreat that’s meant to expose basketball coaches from the States to international trips. We’re being hosted by a tourist association and thus it sounds like we will be treated like royalty for five luxurious days for free. I’ve had to pinch myself a couple times. However, I’m most excited for the opportunity to network with other coaches and learn from them.
My current plans take me to May 15th. I have a couple other people I’d love to visit after that time and I also have events all summer in Europe in which I would love to participate. But once again a great question mark looms in the distance. Will one of my applications for open coaching positions matriculate here in the States? Will an opportunity present itself to stay in Europe and coach there for the coming season? If so, what in the world would that look like? If nothing comes through, then what?
Once again, God has me on a fast track towards the unknown. I have no idea what will happen or where I will end up. The only thing I know right now is that He has opened some cool doors for the coming six weeks and whatever comes of this trip, God is incredible for giving me the opportunity to go. Sometimes I covet the relative security of having a stable job and waking up knowing that you’ll have a paycheck and how you’ll pay for food and being able to pay off student loans more quickly and sleeping in the same bed for more than a few days at a time. But then I realize how incredible a story God is writing with my life and how privileged I am to play a part.
If you think of it, I would love your prayers as I continue to walk this crazy path God is revealing one step at a time. One thing is certain though — God is good and I’d have no one directing my life besides Him. Not even me and my conventional ideas of security after which I’d foolishly pattern my life sometimes if I had the chance.
Until the next update,