By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
Patrick Henry College is normally known for the debate skills and White House internships of its students, not for their outstanding athletic achievements. Nonetheless, this Fall the Lady Sentinels, PHC’s women’s soccer team, pulled out its first winning season—with four wins, two losses, and one tie. To achieve this, the eighteen young women dedicated an hour and a half each day to practice and executed a service activity every weekend.
“I don’t want you to win. I want you to play your very best,” Janna Bowman, women’s soccer coach, who directs strategic events for the Office of the Chancellor for PHC, told the team on the first day of practice. “If that results in a winning score, great.”
She relates an anecdote from last year, when she coached with the same philosophy: “One time after we lost a game, the coach from the other team and the referees came over and told me, ‘Your team had such a great attitude!’ I went back to the girls and told them, ‘You won this game.’ It’s all about displaying a Christ-like spirit.”
Probably the highlight of the soccer season for fans at PHC was the girls’ win over Christendom College during Homecoming weekend, October 6. Current students, alumni, and parents screamed from the sidelines as the girls slammed in penalty kicks to clinch the victory, after a 2-2 score in double overtime.
“We all wanted the win so badly!” recollects senior Carmen Magana, a short fireball of a defender. “The game was electrifying and the fans were incredibly supportive. Even though the shootout after the double overtime was nerve-wracking, it only added to the sweetness of our victory.”
And after the win, the PHC and Christendom teams circled up to pray together. “It was very powerful. Most soccer teams don’t end games in prayer,” shares senior Angelise Anderson, who played soccer at PHC for the first time this season.
Further, Janna Bowman asked each team member to sign an agreement at the start of the season, which included a commitment to plan and participate in a service project once a week. “I wanted to get them in the mindset of giving back, not just taking,” she says. Each of the nine weeks of the season, two players scheduled a project, and all members of the team participated. Among other activities, the young women cleaned a house, wrote notes to their professors, and ran a coffee house for the student body.
The girls greatly enjoyed their service. “It was wonderful to provide the student body with an opportunity to relax,” smiles Anderson, speaking of the student coffee house. “The girls split between defense and offense to prepare coffee or desserts. We all had to work early to prepare for it, but we so enjoyed serving in that way.”
Janna Bowman enthuses about soccer and other team sports as ways to build character and to demonstrate skills of living. “You gain a Christ-like ability to take a loss,” she explains, “and you can see different members of the body of Christ molding their talents together into one—even on the sidelines, through encouragers and teachers.”
The girls put it simply.
“I’m so glad I played soccer my junior and senior years at PHC,” states Magana. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”