Anneliese Lockner, a sophomore here at Hope College, plays every soccer game for an audience of one—God. While most college athletes may believe that sports are played for the audience or even for themselves, students here at Hope use sports to glorify God, and Lockner is not an exception. In the short time that she had to express her feelings on soccer, she made one point very clear: in her experience, Christian athletes are different from non-Christian athletes. Lockner personally decides to practice Christianity on and off the field.
Since kindergarten Lockner has been kicking a soccer ball around the field. Originally designed as an extracurricular activity for a five year old, soccer has turned into something that consistently grounds Lockner in her athleticism, which she uses as a form of praise to God. Before each game Lockner makes sure to write “AO1” on her wrist, representing Audience of One. This reminds her that no matter what happens on the field, she will always be playing for God.
This mentality carries into the team as well. Opening her “team book,” Lockner showed me the core team values that Hope College Women’s Soccer (HCWS) shares. The page is designed with six squares which make up a circular pattern on the page, each one leading to another. Each core value has a Bible verse with it, to show where the athletes can find an example of this value in the Bible. These six values include Positive Attitude and Hard Work among others, linked with Bible verses Phillipians 4:8 and Colossians 3:23, respectively. Phillipians 4:8 states “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” (NIV) and Colossians 3:23 states “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (NIV) These verses show Positive Attitude and Hard Work well, and serve as a constant reminder to Lockner and her team. Because HCWS graduated twelve seniors last year, they have had to lean on their faith more than ever to begin the 2019 season. But Lockner is confident that this year can bring success for the team, and she encourages students to come watch the upcoming games. Along with this, Lockner had a strict training regimen this summer to keep her in peak physical condition for the upcoming season so that she could come in stronger than ever before.
Three days a week she lifted at her local gym, or she came to Hope to use the weight room. At least once a week, Lockner was at Hope getting field time and sometimes combining it with her lifting day. Along with all of this she ran every day this summer to keep her body adjusted to the physical demands of her sport. Last August Lockner pulled her quad, causing her a lot of pain which will not go away in the time that Lockner is active. Despite that fact that Lockner will always have pain while leading an active lifestyle, she knows her teammates will always have her back and push her to keep going.
With the physical demands comes a lot of commitment, meaning that Lockner often has to schedule around soccer. Although this can be a hassle, Lockner enjoys that it has provided her with the opportunity to meet new people, have better time management and get into the groove of school easier. Lockner is number 21 on the field. Make sure to look for the “AO1” scribbled on her wrist!