Almost 200 Neumann University student-athletes gathered in the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development on Thursday, September 8th, not to take the field but to be commissioned. Neumann University kicks off the fall sport season with a reflective prayer service focused on one the University’s Core RISES Values. Each year, Neumann University emphasizes one of the RISES (Reverence, Integrity, Service, Excellence, Stewardship) values. During the 2017-18 year, the focus is on the value of Excellence.
Neumann’s fall student-athletes, coaches, and team chaplains were commissioned through beautiful prayers, thoughtful reflections, reverent rituals and sacred blessings. Fr. Stephen Thorne, University Chaplain, delivered powerful messages throughout the prayer service. In particular, Fr. Thorne referenced a baseball during his homily stating: “I know baseball is almost over now and not a fall sport but, when we look at this baseball you notice something different with it from a soccer ball or a volleyball.” Fr. Thorne explained that the difference is that a baseball is tough, because it has a core on the inside. Without a core on the inside of ourselves, we cannot be successful on the outside.
Neumann University student-athletes shared their thoughts on how their teams define Excellence. Each team had something unique to say about Excellence. In particular, Melanie Malseed, women’s volleyball team representative, stated: “One quote we chose to focus on this year is ‘Start unknown, finish unforgettable’. We agree as a team that it isn’t about where you start, but how well you execute and finish. We can practice all we want but when it comes to game time we have to execute correctly. We strive to be the team that nobody will forget and everyone has to come watch.”
The cross country team representative, Stephen Battle, said: “Our intense bravery is our excellence…This sport that we love called cross country shows us that there is a brilliant fire deep within us all. We simply must dig deep into our cores and ignore the voices in our heads that tells us we can’t do this. In that instance, we become the embodiment of excellence.”
Representatives from women’s soccer, men’s soccer, field hockey, women’s rugby and men’s rugby also offered perspectives on Excellence. Dr. Chris Domes, University President, pointed out to the students in his remarks that common among all the student-athlete reflections was “we”, “our” and “team”. Anything that we do is done for and with the team. Individual accolades are set aside when striving for Excellence. This exemplifies the identity and culture of Neumann University…one community. Excellence is simply not done through competing or seeking to be better than others. Pursuing Excellence is a matter of the heart and what is on the inside of each of us.