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“The game is only half of it”

Bethel’s soccer team shares about the unique culture that makes the team a family.

By Maya Spinler

Across the road from the main campus at Ona Orth, the soccer field is divided in half for the men’s and women’s soccer teams to practice. Balls are flying fifty feet high, players are laughing and talking nonstop and the smell of stinky shin guards fills the air. Both teams buzz with a contagious energy in spite of the rain.

“They like getting all muddy and stuff,” Coach Ben Lindberg said. “The rain has high energy. Don’t know why. That’s just soccer players for you.”

From the outside looking in, the special bond the team shares together is immediately recognizable – not just the men’s and women’s teams individually, but collectively. They go to each other’s games and are always the loudest fans. Freshman initiations, bowling and movie nights, sharing meals together daily in the DC, Bible studies and intramural volleyball are all ways the team continually fosters these friendships. 

“So much of your college experience is based on your community,” sophomore captain Will Swanda said.“We’re all involved in each other’s lives off the field. It’s really special.” 

The players call themselves family. 

“It says something when alumni come back and want to hang out with us, too. There’s a bunch of alumni that always ask to go to dinner and stuff,” junior Zach Caouette said. “Even guys that dropped out or realized school wasn’t the right path for them are still hitting us up and asking to hangout.” 

Unlike high school, the players observe no tension between upper and underclassmen. “When I was a freshman here last year, the seniors totally took me under their wing and gave me wisdom and showed me the ins and outs of this,” sophomore Cassie Leland said. “We’re super close.”

Photo by Mild Du

However, what truly encapsulates this team and sets Bethel apart from their past soccer experiences is the Christian community.

“I love how Christ is integrated into every aspect of what we do. It’s the first time I can say I have a Jesus-loving soccer community,” freshman Youssef Abdallah said. 

Players, coaches and managers alike thrive in the community provided by the soccer program.

“We’re competitive and we want to win, but it’s bigger than that,” Lindberg said. “We’re really the only school in the conference that professes our faith and we take that very seriously. The microscope is on us a little bit because if we’re winning, are we winning and being Christ-like, and showing humility and grace when we’re losing?” 

The team always makes it a priority to pray before each game and embody what it means to be part of the Bethel community. Men’s or women’s, away or at home, winning or losing, the soccer community emphasizes support, fun and a love of both Christ and the game.

Article Designer: Davis McElmurry

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