To kick off the 2015-2016 winter season, over one hundred Neumann university student-athletes convened in the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development for the Winter Commissioning Ceremony. The theme of the event coincided with the University’s observance of the value of integrity.
Sitting cross-legged on the gym floor, athletes listened to their peers describe the meaning and purpose they derive from playing their sports. JoHanna Metzger, Kemba Daniels and Brittney Abreu were among three Neumann student-athletes who spoke about the importance of integrity in their lives and in the context of their sports.
Metzger, a senior on the women’s basketball team and recent 1,000 point scorer, likened the value of integrity to the concept of moral living on and off the court: “Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles…it consists of always playing your hardest, but always playing clean – hating defeat, but honoring the winner.”
Daniels is a senior on the dance team while Abreu is a senior on the cheerleading squad. Both squads are relatively new and are seeking to grow in terms of organization and competition. Abreu recognized that integrity deals with staying true to oneself, especially during difficult times. She recalled a difficult moment out on the gym floor during a game in which a stunt mishap occurred. “The whole crowd gasped…we cheerleaders had no clue what to do at that moment because we were still in shock.” Even though the team experienced a setback at the moment, Abreu noticed a true resilience in her team by the way they responded: “We kept going for the rest of the game because now we knew we had a lot more to prove and that it was only the beginning.”
Integrity serves as one of the five core principles of Neumann University. It is explained as speaking the Truth in Love, acting fairly and honestly, and always taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions. Speaking directly to these components of integrity, Daniels took the time to speak not of her time in competition, but rather in times of service to illuminate the way she and her teammates live with integrity.
Citing the exciting, even therapeutic effect dance can have on an individual, Daniels recounted a camp the dance team held for a group of 4-10-year-old girls. She likened dance as a gift that was once given to her and her teammates at a young age, and now, powerfully, they were able to give of that gift themselves. That, she said, was the foundation of integrity: “It’s an honor and a blessing to take up the mantle and be that mentor to the people who inspired the passion for dance in a young child.”
In addition to women’s basketball, dance, and cheer, teams representing men’s basketball, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s club ice hockey and roller hockey were all in attendance. Their coaches, team chaplains, and various Neumann University staff including the President of the university were also a part of the service meant to bless the student-athletes for the upcoming season. The Commissioning Ceremony is a hallmark program of the Institute for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development and is offered at the beginning of each fall, winter, and spring season to Neumann athletic teams. It is just another reminder of the uniquely personal experience of student-athletes at Neumann – one that is rooted in integrity.