Guest post written by Aaron Henderson, Director of Athletics
Another season of FPU athletics is upon us. Our fall sports are in full swing with cross country, volleyball, soccer and men’s water polo each beginning their seasons last weekend as we kicked off our second full year as NCAA Division II members.
As I head into my ninth year here at FPU, second as the director of athletics, I continue to be amazed by the God we serve and by the work he’s called us to do for his kingdom through the avenue of athletics.
Over the past few years we’ve worked hard to continue to build a culture that is God-honoring while also serving our students, our campus and the greater Fresno community, and we’ve begun to see some of the fruits of that labor:
* This fall we welcomed our largest incoming class ever with the addition of just under 100 new student-athletes, many of them President’s Scholars.
* For the third consecutive year our student-athletes were honored by the Pacific West Conference for outstanding work in the community. While much of what we do in athletics is highly visible, our student-athletes are also making a difference behind the scenes. This includes work with Valley Children’s Hospital, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and much more.
* This summer saw hundreds of children participate in our athletics summer camps, providing many young people and their families a window into Fresno Pacific for the first time.
* In partnership with the parent company of our campus bookstore, we launched an extensive online store at ShopFPU.com.
* Our women’s soccer team had a unique opportunity to serve in Brazil this summer, where they were also able to train at the Brazilian national team’s training center. Read the student blog on the trip at fpuathletics.com/index.aspx?path=wsoc&tab=soccer2
* We’re beginning our second year of the Faculty Team Representative program, where each of our programs is matched up with a faculty member that serves as an official part of the team. (We are still looking for one or two more reps. Please contact Don Diboll or myself if interested.)
* We’ve been intentional about hiring head coaches that understand the Fresno Pacific Idea and share our vision for a Christ-centered athletics program. Last semester we added three new coaches: Tracy Ainger-Schulte (volleyball), C.J. Haydock (men’s basketball) and Tim Beauregard (women’s basketball). All three are alums and are already doing amazing things in the lives of our student-athletes. Please stop by and introduce yourself to them if you haven’t already!
We recently met as a staff to talk about the upcoming year. One of the things we discussed was a department verse. We decided on Ecclesiastes 4:12, which says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (NIV). We talked about what it would look like for everyone in our department, regardless of their role (coaches, administrators, support staff), to be working toward the same goal of being a Christ-centered department that serves its students.
I’m particularly excited about the upcoming year because throughout my time at the university I can’t remember working with a staff as focused and committed to each other as this one is. They possess a unique camaraderie, a contagious love for Christ and a desire to serve both our students and our campus at large. It was very important for us as a department to emphasize unity, while establishing that we don’t view ourselves as various competing entities, but as one team with many unique talents working toward a common goal.
These same biblical concepts apply to Fresno Pacific University as a whole. While we have numerous departments that make up our university, each one plays a unique role and when we appreciate what each group brings we are better together.
With that said, we in the department of athletics want to be intentional about constantly becoming a more integrated part of the campus community. Our desire is to be a unifying force for our campus; a rallying point for our students, employees and alumni to show pride and affinity for the university; and a positive representation of Fresno Pacific both within the Central Valley and the NCAA.
You can find schedules of all our sports on our website at fpuathletics.com. This year, as you follow our teams, you may notice some new promotions and ways to get involved. We’ll be hosting faculty and staff appreciation nights, a Halloween event for families, Sunbird Saturday for our alumni and a host of other events, all in an effort to be a catalyst for unity on our campus. Even if athletics aren’t necessarily “your thing,” I would invite you to try it out and enjoy fellowship with other FPU employees. It would mean so much to me to see every department represented at our events this year!
Likewise, if there are ways athletics can be involved on campus in your respective areas, please feel free to reach out to me or Associate Athletics Director Jeremiah Wood. We would love to hear from you!