Athletics, ethos and the bigger picture

Fresno Pacific Athletics made the jump to NCAA in 2011, and what followed was not easy. Coaches were charged to both assist in making the transition easy and to produce a program that could develop a tradition of winning. While FPU has had some success in recent years, we can’t help but notice when a team has an unproductive season.

The Fresno Pacific Volleyball team started rough, with a 0-10 record, but is now sitting at 4-13 while being 3-5 in conference. The team has gained some young talent, but a spat of injuries didn’t help them begin the season. Throughout their difficulties, however, the team has remembered one thing: “they are playing for an audience of One”.

In an interview, Tracy Ainger-Schulte emphasized a point that resonates with the culture here at FPU: it is about more than just the game.

“On a higher level, much greater than volleyball, I think that’s what they’ve [the girls] embraced,” Coach Tracy said.

Coach Tracy has wanted the girls to embrace this ever since they had a visit from Pastor Angulus at the beginning of the season. She made it clear that her expectations for the girls were high and have always been high, stating: “My expectation never changes … We are never going to be satisfied with who you are as an athlete, as a student, in your spiritual walk, we are always going to demand more from you in the four years that you are here”.

While some may think that coaches demand a lot from their athletes, others would argue that the coach is preparing them for the real world. Tracy makes sure that she and her coaching staff are on the same page when dealing with the sport, but also when dealing with accountability issues. They are all about preparing the girls for the real world, because Tracy believes that “it’s all about the bigger picture”.

“it’s all about the bigger picture”

Tracy believes that the Ethos she has created for the girls on her team will be visible on more than just the court, but also on the campus and the community. With this bigger picture idea, we can see that it is not only in volleyball, but is present in all Fresno Pacific athletics.

FPU and the goal

With an athletics program that won the PacWest Community Engagement Award, we can see that bettering the community around them is a significant part of who FPU athletes aim to be. Being a NCAA Division II program, FPU athletics makes sure that they are upholding the morals that have been around since the school’s founding in 1944.

It all begins with administration setting the ethos for its faculty; the faculty, specifically the athletic director, sets the ethos for his coaches and the coaches set it for their athletes.

The coaches are the ones who have direct communication with the athletes on a daily basis, and they create the ethos that is carried onto the court, the campus and the community. The ethos that they are creating is an expectation they have of their student athletes; it is an expectation that is to be upheld and leads to the student athlete being a representative of not only their sports program, but of their school.

Soccer is more than a game

The men’s soccer team’s success is attributed to the established culture that Coach Jaime expects each and every one of his players to follow. In order to get this specific drive out of them, he believes in creating a culture where they can get away from the field and have a space to talk and strengthen their relationships.

“If serving is beneath you, leading is beyond you.”

Jaime hopes that the players he recruits can walk out of this program being confident in themselves and realizing that their hard work pays off. He wants his players to be able to take that mindset into the workforce once they graduate.

Expanding beyond the game is important because it also shapes the identity of the individuals and reflects well on the positive influence this soccer program has had. Jaime attributes his personal input to the team culture to when he himself was a player at FPU. He reflects highly on the motto “all to play for”; this means that one should give all they have in that moment, to play for that game as a means of truly leaving it out on the field.

Ball and Life

The basketball teams here at FPU have a very unique culture that is nevertheless shared. “If serving is beneath you, leading is beyond you” is their motto, according to both Coach Haydock and Coach Beauregard.

With over 400 hours per athlete, it is evident that the basketball teams are serving first and foremost. While they are striving to chase their dreams of a winning program, they are helping others chase their own by helping the community. Coach Beauregard calls this “dream-chasing”, which is one of the biggest focuses for his women’s basketball team this season. The ability to dream-chase comes from the “relentless pursuit of excellence in the classroom, in our community and on the court”.

Both Beauregard and Haydock’s serve their athletes and in turn their athletes serve the community and the campus. In order to create a strong ethos, they make sure that their doors are always open and that they are there for their athletes, especially when they fail. They recognize that they are in these athletes’ lives, and their goal is to prepare these individuals for the rest of them once they leave FPU.

According to Coach Haydock: “The leading scorer and the 17th guy get the same investment from our coaching staff”. This shows that they value each individual.

The culture for basketball is that ball is life. It is, however, about more than that; it is about the lives of those around you as well.

Keeping them on track

Coach Ray Winter is the head track coach, and knows that the physical aspect isn’t the only aspect that matters.

“In a word, our motto this season is ‘mindset’” he said, explaining that “growth comes through discomfort. A principle that is true in athletics, but also in the social, intellectual and spiritual arenas of life.”

Coach Winter has created an ethos for his team by investing just as much in their student side as their athlete side.

It is about the lives of those around you.

“We have the privilege and calling of being ministry-oriented, so we seek to address the development and success of our student-athletes holistically,” Coach Winter said. This rings true with the ideals that have been set forth by FPU and its main office.

Passion for the game

While every season will not be the best, we can see that what remains constant is these coaches, who keep pushing their charges to be better athletes, students and members in the community; they do this, win or lose, and continue to do it day after day, season after season. It is the passion for the game and for their work that drives them.

In the words of Coach Beauregard, “passion is defined in this way, at least for me: it is the one thing that can exhaust you beyond all else, deplete you, take you down to just nothing but it is simultaneously the only thing that can fill you back up”

Coaches like Haydock also are not unaware of the fact that they have their dream job. He has wanted this job since he was eight years old, and chooses not to live in the past in favor of being present and energetic for his guys. The coaches get to do a job that they love, with students that they grow to love, in a school that is about showing God’s love to the community. This seems to be the source of where ethos is created, and year after year it will continue to grow. As Sunbirds, they will overcome the trials on and off the court because of the culture that has been created.

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Volume 34 | Issue 2