Behind the Whistle: Prepare for Rain


Kelly McQuilkin is the associate head coach at High Point.

This story initially appeared on Behind the Whistle, the official blog of the IWLCA, and is being republished with permission from the organization. Kelly McQuilkin is the associate head coach at High Point University.

Like each of you, I’ve experienced many adjustments in this past year.

We worked tirelessly to pave our destinies, only for it all to come to a screeching halt last March when everything shut down. Suddenly, our seasons were canceled, our campuses were empty and life as we knew it had changed. While this year has been strange on so many levels, it has also provided a lot of time for reflection, as well as a reassurance of my purpose in life.

I’m the youngest of three kids, and I had the opportunity to watch both of my older brothers play sports at the Division I level ... I’m a proud little sister!! For those who don’t know my family, we unfortunately were not blessed with the tall gene, so we have to work for every ounce of athleticism to make up for what we lack in height. Being that my brothers chose basketball and football as their sports, there was a lot of making up to do!

While I learned so much about the value of hard work and discipline from the two of them, what I learned most from them was the importance of playing for an audience of one.

My identity is found in Jesus Christ. In Him, I have found so much joy and peace in knowing that I played and now coach for an audience of one. It’s not stat sheets or wins and losses that define me, I’m already known by a God that is far greater than the game. Yes, I’m a competitor and I feel the highs of the wins and the lows of the losses. Yes, wins bring me joy, but they don’t provide ultimate fulfillment. Yes, losses bring a time of reflection, but they don’t make me less of a person.

While as coaches we want to win games, our role is so much more valuable than what’s shown in the record books. As coaches, we are seed planters. Whether we’re planting seeds for His Kingdom, teaching our players life lessons, investing in future generations or simply treating people by the golden rule, we are doing valuable work, and that’s not said enough!

One of my favorite movies is called “Facing the Giants.” It’s about a high school football team making a run in the state playoffs. There’s a scene that talks about preparing for rain by using this story: there are two farmers who were praying for rain, but only one went out to prepare his fields for it. Which one of the farmers do you think trusted God to bring the rain (Watch the 2-minute scene here!)?

As coaches, we work tirelessly to prepare our players for competition, but ultimately on game day, it’s up to them to execute; we can’t do it for them. We have to trust we’ve prepared them enough and it’s time for them to play. The same goes for me in planting seeds. It’s my mission to show others the love of Jesus, to treat people with respect and to challenge my players to become better versions of themselves; however, it’s up to God to change people’s lives.

Once I began relinquishing this control over to God, being a seed planter became less exhausting and way more fulfilling. Once I learned to prepare for rain, to trust that God would bring it, then be still and wait, God showed up in incredible ways.

My life is filled with so many amazing God moments. From winning a high school field hockey state championship, to a college commitment decision, to starting a FCA chapter at Towson University, to coaching at High Point University, to playing in the WPLL, it’s all God — I can’t take any credit. Coaching is a path that God has set me on, and it has become my mission field. While I love the sport of lacrosse, I love the opportunity I have to plant seeds more.

To my fellow coaches, I encourage you to keep being seed planters in your players’ lives. While your seeds may look different than mine, we can all impact our players’ lives. We are WAY MORE than just lacrosse coaches. We have an opportunity to invest in the lives of young women. While we may or may not see the result of our efforts firsthand, conversations and purposeful relationships are remembered.

Be sure your players know their identity is not found on the stat sheet. Have that extra conversation, continue to preach values ... you may never know what conversation will stick with somebody that will impact them years from now.

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