Success depends on dedication to a vision. Either part alone is not enough.
Friday night, November 6, 2015, the Fresno Pacific University water polo team honored its seniors at the last home match of their careers. They celebrated by defeating the Air Force Academy 16-14. Another major achievement for coach Brian Suhovy and his program on the long road to a great vision of demanding athletics and transformed lives.
Saturday night, November 7, 2015, the FPU men’s soccer team achieved a historic first of its own. The story seemed almost too perfect to be true: in the first athletic season of our first year of eligibility for postseason play in the NCAA Division II, FPU hosted the second-place team in our PacWest conference on our home field. Whichever team won would be the conference champion. For our soccer coach, Jaime Ramirez, it would be the 300th win of his coaching career, with his team already high in the national rankings and poised to receive the first invitation for any FPU team to play in an NCAA postseason tournament. Against the best defense in the Division II West region FPU won the PacWest championship 3-0 in a stadium full of cheering fans. Again the small Christian college defeated the large public university, this time Dixie State. These unlikely stories played out with a sense of surreal exhilaration for everyone present.
The soccer championship in particular was a glowing achievement in a decades-long journey for coach Ramirez. His dedication to professional excellence and Christian character in leading young men toward Christ through the challenges of soccer competition has produced countless transformed lives. Through the ups and downs that are unavoidable in sports, and that are even more unavoidable at a smaller institution with more limited resources, his vision never wavered. He could always see it. He had enjoyed national success on a smaller stage, but that Saturday night his vision was suddenly reality on an NCAA stage.
Here is the link to the FPU athletics videos of these events, including testimonies of coaches and players: fpuathletics.com/
This kind of coach can consistently see what each individual player could become. He or she can see what strategies are needed to bring players through rigorous training to the peak of their ability. He or she can see what must be done to take advantage of what players could do against any particular opponent. And over all the years of long seasons of constant challenges this kind of coach can see this day coming. Working with such coaches, the players learn to see the game differently. They see not just where the ball is, but where the ball and the other players will be. They see and anticipate a vision that does not yet exist, and when they succeed they coordinate their efforts to make that vision a reality, run after run, pass after pass, move after move, shot after shot, block after block and win after win! Every successful team understands that each member must share the vision of the long-range desired condition and the supporting vision of every step of hard work along the way.
The Fresno Pacific University Strategic Plan describes a vision of desired conditions that do not yet exist. The planning statements help faculty, staff, students, parents of students, the Board of Trustees and countless prayer and financial supporters see the same vision and work in concert to make that vision a glowing reality in God’s kingdom.
Can we be captured by the vision? Can we throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles us? Can we drop our fears, our anger over past hurts, our doubts about what God might do? And can we run with perseverance the race marked out for us, for Fresno Pacific University at this time of unique challenge and opportunity in this needy world? Can we fix our eyes on Jesus and see his vision for Fresno Pacific become our shared experience of his grace for his glory and for the greatness of his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven? That vision: can you see it?
Hebrews 12:1&2 NIV