Tuesday, May 7, 2013
After two semesters filled with fun and plenty of hard work, I will finish another year at Liberty this Monday. My sophomore year was different than my freshman year, but it had the same two themes – change and growth.
A lot has changed since I arrived on campus last fall, and I have been blessed with many opportunities to grow as a person.
At the beginning of the year, I started working in live video production of Liberty’s NCAA games. I still remember how nervous I was when I heard the countdown for the broadcast to go live for the first time, but, after a year of experience, I’ve grown more comfortable with working in live sports and have improved as a broadcaster. I’m still far away from being a perfect camera man, but nothing will motivate you to improve more than your video streaming live and playing on a huge screen above your head!
Throughout the year, I was also blessed with the opportunity to learn in the classroom. This semester, I took 13 hours of communication classes, and I am still amazed by how much I learned. Two of my classes were taught by Mr. Bruce Kirk, who was recently honored with a first place Chancellor’s award for excellence in teaching. Mr. Kirk has been an incredible professor to learn under, and I can’t wait to learn more from him next year.
When not going to class or working, I enjoyed making great memories with my friends. Spending nights around bonfires, going on a weekend trip to Leesburg, Va., running a 5K in Blacksburg, and visiting nearby Bedford are memories that I will have for a lifetime.
I enjoyed developing skills, learning in the classroom, and making memories with friends, but I am also thankful for spiritual growth. The most rewarding portion of my year was spending Sunday nights with less fortunate kids in downtown Lynchburg. As a volunteer at the Lighthouse Kids Ministry, I walked the streets of neighborhoods that made me realize how blessed I am and broke my heart for many children who lack basic physical and relational needs.
At Lighthouse, I saw God change lives. I watched girls, with no presence of their earthly father, find their Heavenly Father, and boys, struggling to find their significance in a violent and perverse culture, find their significance in Jesus Christ. Working at Lighthouse strengthened my faith, as I saw my Savior change lives, and also made me realize how much I have to be thankful for.
At the end of my freshman year, I was amazed by God’s blessings in my life, and I am once again thankful for another year filled with so many incredible moments and opportunities. With real-life experience in my future field, classes taught by incredible professors, lasting memories with great friends, and an opportunity to see God change lives; my sophomore year was another one filled with blessings.Posted at 12:30 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
On a beautiful spring day in Lynchburg, there is nothing better to do than take in a Liberty baseball or softball game. For my series on Liberty's athletes, I recently had the opportunity to talk with Liberty softball’s Sammi Shivock.
Sammi was born and raised in New Castle, Delaware. While growing up, she wanted to do what her older brother did, and he played sports. As a result, she competed in baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball throughout her childhood.
In eighth grade, Sammi was playing baseball and softball, but, when she joined a traveling softball team, softball became her only sport.
Sammi had loved playing baseball, but she enjoyed her new opportunity to play travel softball. When she was 16, she traveled with the Delaware Cobras and went to nationals.
“It was just a great experience to get to travel around with your girls and play ball, and just all through the summer-every weekend-getting to play softball, playing five games a day; it’s just a lot of fun,” Sammi said.
In addition to playing on traveling teams, Sammi took the field for her school, Red Lion Christian Academy. According to LibertyFlames.com, throughout her high school career, she helped her team win three conference championships and led Red Lion to three state tournament appearances.
Sammi demonstrated a lot of talent in softball, but she said it wouldn’t have been possible without some help. "My mom has been an inspiration. She’s been by my side, and I wouldn’t be where I was without her and the rest of my family for that matter,” she said.
Sammi also had the help of her coach, former Liberty volleyball player Nikki Parkinson. “My high school coach has had, and continues to be, a big impact on me, and I am so thankful for her,” she said.
Sammi’s coach had competed for Liberty, but Katie Warrington, Sammi's high school teammate, introduced Sammi to Liberty for the first time.
“I wanted to play Division 1 softball for a Christian university. I came and visited with Katie, when she was visiting, and I just loved the atmosphere of this campus, and I knew this was where I wanted to come,” she said.
Sammi became a Liberty student in the fall of 2010. Her transition to college wasn’t always easy, but it was beneficial.
“You get hit with a lot, but it teaches you so much. You learn discipline. You learn time management. I mean, it really helped me grow up and learn a lot of things, and I’m really thankful for that,” Sammi said.
While making the difficult transition, Sammi made playing college softball look easy. In her first year, she hit more home runs than any other freshman in program history, and she tied a program record with four runs in a single game.
After completing a successful freshman season, Sammi was named to the Big South Softball Championship All-Tournament team for a good reason. In the tournament, she hit a game-winning home run to defeat Gardner-Webb, and, on the next day, she hit the ball over the fence to win the Big South Final over Radford.
“That’s one of my most memorable experiences, not necessarily the plays or anything, just winning that as a team, together, and getting to win that Big South Championship. It was just a great experience all around,” Sammi said.
Sammi has experienced tremendous personal success on the field, but her favorite part of being a Liberty athlete is being with her teammates. “The relationships that I’ve made with them, I just wouldn’t trade that for anything,” she said.
As a Sport Management major, Sammi was named to the Big South All-Academic team, and she hopes to one day be a community relations director for the Baltimore Ravens.
In addition to her life as an athlete, she has enjoyed being a student at Liberty as well. “I’ve loved my experience here. I’ve learned so much; I’ve grown so much being here. I’ve met so many different people that have touched my life in different ways and helped me grow,” she said.
Like other Liberty athletes I have talked with over the last year, Sammi is a talented person that gives all her glory to God, her teammates, and others in her life. I can’t wait to see what she does for the Flames as she finishes her Junior season and prepares for her last season of Liberty softball.Posted at 8:28 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, April 25, 2013
I never had the privilege of attending Liberty, when its founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, was still alive, but I’ve heard that he often encouraged students to finish strong.
Throughout my life, I’ve noticed that starting strong isn’t hard at all, but finishing strong is an entirely different story. When I played basketball in high school, sprinting to the other end of the court was much easier in the first minute of the game than it was in overtime.
If you’re a senior in high school and planning on attending college in the fall, get ready for an exciting experience that will likely test your perseverance. At the beginning of a school year, Liberty’s campus is filled with enthusiastic students ready to tackle a year of work, but, by April, an onslaught of tests, papers, projects, and the college routine causes most students to become extremely ready for a break.
As assignments began to pile up at the end of the semester, it’s easy for motivation to take a sky dive but more important than ever to persevere. When sleep is the first thing on your mind, and care for your grades is slipping away; remember that your strength comes from a higher power.
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua’s verse is one that we ought to remind ourselves of each day. Even when facing overwhelming circumstances, we can be strong, because the Lord is with us.
While working to be successful in academics, it can often become difficult to keep your priorities straight. God wants to give you the strength to persevere, but he also wants a close relationship with you. Even when you’re working non-stop on assignments, don’t forget who you are working for.
In the busyness of your life, you may be tempted to give up your time with God, when you need it the most. Make time to spend with God each day. Life isn’t all about academics, so be sure to finish your semester well in the other areas of your life too.
Dr. Falwell was a visionary, who believed that Liberty would one day be a great university. In only 41 years, the college he founded has grown to include around 13,000 residential students and over 100,000 online and residential students combined. Dr. Falwell's vision was great, but, in order for it to become a reality, he had to trust God and persevere through difficult circumstances.
Towards the end of a year in college, completing your assignments and preparing for exams may be a struggle but, like Dr. Falwell did, don't give up and trust God. Finish strong!Posted at 8:25 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Friday, April 19, 2013
Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to interview athletes from many of Liberty’s Division 1 athletic teams. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, and I recently had the pleasure of talking with an athlete, who chose to never give up despite difficult circumstances.
In Andrew's family, participating in sports was a tradition. “It was kind of what I grew up with. My dad was a coach. My brother and sister both played. My sister was on varsity (since like eighth grade) in three different sports, so we’re a very athletic-minded family,” he said.
Andrew decided to carry on his family’s tradition by joining Highland Christian’s elementary basketball team in fourth grade. He continued to play basketball into high school but also played baseball before giving it up to focus on a future career in college basketball.
In his tenth grade year, Andrew and his basketball team experienced a difficult season. He recalled the final record being around 5-20. The Knights faced adversity but bounced back to post 20-5 records in Andrew’s junior and senior years.
“Half of us had grown up since elementary together, playing ball, so that was special in and of itself, and then all the accomplishments that came with it were just extras,” Smith said.
Andrew received plenty of “extras” to go with his team’s success. According to LibertyFlames.com,he earned many personal awards and capped off his senior year by receiving all-state honors and averaging 25 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.
Smith wasn’t dreaming of playing for Liberty until he took a deeper look at it and visited the campus. “It kind of all clicked, because it was Division 1, it was Christian (which I liked)… but then it was also a big school relative to what I had been through-graduating with 40 kids,” he said.
Since Andrew took the court for Liberty in the fall of 2011, his journey has been a rollercoaster. Before his freshman and sophomore years, Coach Layer was considering redshirting Smith, but team injuries prevented it from happening and forced Andrew to grow up fast.
“Freshman year, if I would have been redshirted, I would have learned certain things that would have helped me this year, but I think God has a reason for all those experiences, and I think they helped me develop into the player I was able to be this year,” Andrew said.
Andrew Smith played a break-out season this year and frequented the highlight reels with impressive blocks and dunks. In a home game against Campbell, he blocked a shot and ran to the other end of the court to tip in an alley. The play was so impressive that it aired on ESPN’s Top 10, a segment that Andrew used to watch before school every day.
Smith personally had a successful regular season, but, with many transfer and freshman players, he and his teammates knew it would take time to gel together.
“We kind of just kept telling ourselves that and staying focused, working day-to-day, but don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t easy to keep your mind straight when your 0-8 and then 1-11, so it took constant reminders from yourself and then coach,” Smith said.
Not giving up wasn’t easy for Andrew and his team, but they saw their hard work pay off when their longest winning streak came at the perfect time- the Big South Tournament. Coach Layer almost put the red shirt on Andrew at the beginning of the season, but, in the tournament, Smith started for the Flames and played a crucial role in his team putting on its Big South Championship shirts.
A Big South title sent the Flames to the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Oh., an experience that Andrew said was surreal and unlike anything he had experienced before. Liberty suffered a devastating loss to North Carolina A&T at the buzzer, but Andrew is positive about his team’s future.
“If we just keep building, we’re going to be a hard team to beat by anyone. I think we could even get some good out of conference wins, next year, against some tougher opponents,” he said.
Just like his team bounced back in high school, Andrew and the Flames bounced back from adversity to have a successful post season. Smith believes this year was a “stepping stone” to what he can do in his future at Liberty, and I believe he is right. Andrew Smith is a great player with incredible potential, and I can’t wait to see what he does in his next two years as a Liberty Flame.Posted at 12:22 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, April 11, 2013
It’s that time of year again! The campus is growing busy as high school students from near and far arrive on campus. Four times each year, Liberty welcomes high school students to College for a Weekend (CFAW).
If you are in high school, you may be visiting Liberty this very weekend or planning a trip for the near future. I remember stepping foot on Liberty’s campus for the first time at a Friendly Friday in March 2011. To be completely honest, I didn’t get as good of a feel for my future school as I could have.
Now that Liberty is my second home, I’ve noticed a few things that high school students can do to make their visits as beneficial as possible. I hope these tips will help you during your future visit or maybe even this weekend!
See the Campus
Obviously, a big reason to visit a college is to see the campus in person. Take some time to explore Liberty’s campus and be sure to take advantage of a provided tour. Getting a grasp of Liberty’s massive facilities can be challenging, but the more you learn, the better you will understand what your future life at Liberty may be like.
Spend Time with Students
Seeing the campus is something that many visitors are good at, but I believe spending time with Liberty students is even more important. Liberty boast impressive facilities, but looking at the campus and not meeting students is kind of like looking at a house without meeting the roommates your considering moving in with. I believe that Liberty’s student body is even more impressive than its facilities, so be sure to spend time with students.
Always be respectful of students’ time, but, if you are invited to do something with them, go for it! Eating meals and attending events with other students will give you a great feel for life at Liberty. Talk with students in your residence hall and the classes you visit. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, who can understand student life better than students themselves?
Throughout your visit at Liberty, try to experience college life instead of simply observing it. For example, think about working out at the gym with some Liberty students, instead of just visiting the gym.
Meet the Faculty
College life is filled with plenty of fun, but one of the main purposes of college is to prepare you for your future career. You will be spending a significant portion of your college career in the classroom, and your professors will play a play a vital role in how enjoyable your college experience is and how successful your future career is.
If you are looking at a particular area of study, take time to talk with professors and get a good feel for your program. You can likely even set up an appointment to meet with a professor and discuss your degree plan. If the professors you meet are anything like mine, they will be more than happy to talk with you and answer any questions you have.
Don’t Get Lost!
Liberty’s campus is massive and its two largest buildings (DeMoss Hall and Green Hall) are no exception. At some point in your visit, you will likely feel lost but don’t be afraid to simply ask a student for directions. At some point, every student at Liberty has wondered through the halls of DeMoss in search of a classroom, and students will understand your predicament.
Also, be sure to download Liberty’s mobile app “myLibertyU.” The app has a great maps tool that will show you your current location, allow you to search for a building’s location, and plan a bus route for you to get across campus.
I hope that these tips will help you make the most out of your visit at Liberty. Whether you are experiencing Liberty’s campus this weekend or planning to in the near future, have a great visit! If you get a good look at my university, I think you will like what you see.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!
Friday, April 5, 2013
Easter is a holiday set aside for us to celebrate the greatest event in history. We were trapped in sin, but through Christ's death and resurrection, our chains have been broken and death has been defeated! Such an incredible victory is cause for celebration, and I was blessed to be able to celebrate this Easter with several incredible friends.
Last year, my friends and I spent our three-day Easter weekend at my friend John Showalter’s house in Leesburg, Va., and, this year, we returned to Leesburg to stay with our friend Mike Marrotte and his family. I enjoy college life, but having a few days to get away and relax was exactly what I needed before finishing up the school year.
In Leesburg, Mike Marrotte and his family made us feel at home and fed us more amazing food than we could eat. Throughout the weekend, we enjoyed playing ping-pong and watching March Madness at the Marrotte’s house, but we also took time to visit several places in the Washington D.C. area.
On Saturday morning, my friends and I explored Old Town Alexandria, a part of the Washington area that I had never seen before. It was definitely a fascinating place. We walked through one of the oldest farmers' markets in the United States and visited the quaint shops that fill the historical buildings along King’s Street. Many of the buildings in Old Town Alexandria were built in the 1700’s, and the city was unlike any other I had seen before.
After some shopping, we visited the town’s waterfront, where we walked through a marina and took in a view of the capitol building and several sites along the Potomac River.
Visiting Alexandria was a blast, but it was only the beginning of a great day. My friends and I ate dinner at John Showalter’s house and ended the night by roasting s'mores over a bonfire.
On Sunday morning, it was time to celebrate the greatest moment in history – the moment when Jesus arose from the grave. My friends and I visited Destiny Church, where our friends from Leesburg attend. After hearing an incredible message about Jesus love, it was a blessing to see more than twenty people respond to a clear presentation of the gospel.
My friends and I had an incredible time exploring Alexandria on Saturday and celebrating the resurrection on Sunday, but, on Monday, we were forced to come to the realization that all good things must come to an end. To finish up the break, we did some shopping at the nearby Dulles Mall and ate dinner together before returning to Lynchburg.
I enjoy the fast pace of college life, but getting away for a few days was exactly what I needed before taking on the six weeks separating me from summer break. A lot of hard work is ahead of me, but, after a refreshing weekend, I’m ready for it.Posted at 8:10 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
In my previous post, I wrote about the opportunity I have to hear from influential Christians from all walks of life. The speakers at Convocation have made a profound impact on my life, but I’ve also been blessed by several incredible men, who have dedicated their lives to developing men and women of God at Liberty.
One of those men is Dr. David Wheeler. Dr. Wheeler was my evangelism professor last semester, and I wrote about him in my post “Taking up the Towel.” When I heard that he was speaking at Campus Church on Wednesday night, I instantly wanted to attend.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be at the service in person, but Campus Church is broadcast live on TV, an online stream, and the radio. I joined the service via TV, and I’m glad that I got the opportunity to tune in.
Every time I’ve heard Dr. Wheeler speak, I’ve been challenged, and last night was no exception. He presented a convicting question: “How important is Jesus in your life?” A key part of his message was centered on Matthew 7:21, which says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Dr. Wheeler talked about how God sacrificed so much to redeem us, and, if we are truly his children, we will desire to follow Him. He challenged everyone to stay away from spiritual mediocrity and to devote his entire being to serving the Lord.
Dr. Wheeler told the story of a young man he talked with on a mission trip to East Asia. The man was living in a cardboard box, but he was perfectly content, because he had Jesus. Throughout the conversation, the man continually talked about Jesus and every one of his answers to Dr. Wheeler’s questions went back to Jesus.
“You will talk about what is most important to you. What do you talk about most often? Is it Jesus?” Wheeler said.
Dr. Wheeler’s message was one that challenged me to ask myself if I am fully devoting myself to serving the Lord or simply going through the routine of the Christian life.
As you remember the greatest sacrifice in history and celebrate God’s victory over death through His resurrection, I hope you will take time to consider what is the number-one priority in your life. Like Dr. Wheeler said, it’s easy to cruise through the Christian life, but Jesus wasn’t on cruise when he carried the cross up to Calvary. In life, Jesus should be the center of it all.Posted at 1:26 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, March 28, 2013
One of my favorite parts of being a Liberty student is attending Convocation. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I enjoy joining 10,000 students to worship the Lord and to hear from some of the most influential speakers from around the nation.
During my time at Liberty, nothing has inspired or motivated me more than the incredible guests that have spoken from Vines Center stage. I’ve had the opportunity hear from speakers like Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, David Jeremiah, Ben Stein, Mike Huckabee, and even Tim Tebow.
I don’t know where the Lord will take me over the next few years, but as a broadcast journalism major, my dream is to one day be a sportscaster. This week, I had the incredible opportunity to hear from a man who is one of the most successful sportscasters in America and a great man of God.
In last Monday’s Convocation, James Brown (JB) of CBS’s “NFL Today” gave me some great practical advice for my future. JB mentioned that the key element of an athlete’s success is mastering the fundamentals, and he listed seven fundamentals of life that have helped him achieve success. Brown discussed developing good communication skills, dressing for success, being prompt, hungering and thirsting for knowledge, developing interpersonal skills with diverse groups of people, dealing with adversity, and having fun in the process.
While Brown talked about fundamentals for success, he shared some great stories from his experiences as a sportscaster but also focused on being truly successful. He noted that success in life does not guarantee eternal success.
JB mentioned one point of his life when he was expecting to become either a host or commentator of college basketball but didn’t receive a promotion to either position. Brown was heartbroken by the disappointment and was considering quitting sportscasting for good when his wife reminded him of an important truth.
She read Psalm 75:6-7, which says, “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another.” JB was faced with adversity, but he was reminded that God had His hand in the situation. He waited on the Lord, and, today, he is enjoying a promotion to one of the most-watched sports programs in America.
James Brown is a man who has achieved tremendous success as a professional but also as a Christian. As an ordained minister, who is actively involved in several charities and ministries, JB believes that Christians can be most successful by doing it the right way, and he is doing exactly that.
I couldn’t have asked for a better speaker than James Brown. I hope to take his practical advice to heart and to follow in his footsteps by being successful through doing it the right way. JB was an excellent example of a man who is experiencing success in his earthly life but is also impacting eternal life by shining a light for Christ.Posted at 8:35 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Friday, March 22, 2013
If you’re in your senior year of high school and still haven’t decided on a college, you may feel the pressure building to make your decision. Almost exactly two years ago, I visited Liberty’s campus for the first time, but, when I graduated from high school, I still hadn’t decided on which college to attend.
Throughout my senior year, I remember hearing the same question over and over: “Where will you be going to school?” I’m sure you hear this question a lot as well. If you're experience is like mine was, you probably feel each question increasing the pressure on you like a breath of hot air in an already filled balloon.
Making a decision about college isn’t always easy, but here are a few things that helped me make my decision and may help you as well.
Look for the Best Overall
Some colleges may be excellent at certain things, but I recommend looking for the best all-around school. College life includes many different aspects, so don’t base your decision solely on one thing that happens to be amazing. Look for strong academics, spiritual support, exciting recreation, good facilities, and a great student body.
Focus on Your Specific Program
A school can be excellent in many areas, but one of the most important things to look for is a strong program in your area of study. Look for caring professors that have real-life experience and an abundance of knowledge in their fields. If mastering your major takes hands-on experiences, make sure the school's program has opportunities to do just that. Struggling to decide on what you want to major in? Take a look at “A Major Dilemma."
Look for a Network
Obviously, the main purpose of college is to prepare you for a job, so finding a college with connections is essential. Look for a school that has alumni doing big things around the country. Going to a school, with successful alumni already working in jobs, will give you a network that may help you get a big job or internship down the road.
Deciding on the right college can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task, but, if you ignore the pressure and look at the important aspects of a college, you may find that your decision will be easier than you expect!Posted at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
If you drive through my campus right now, you will see signs that say “March Madness Lives Here,” and, for the first times since 2004, it does. The Liberty Flames basketball team has made the NCAA tournament and will be “dancing” in Dayton, Ohio tonight. Right now, Liberty’s campus is abuzz with talk about the tournament. The fact that the Flames are in the tournament for the first time in nine years is exciting, but where they came from to get to the tournament is even more remarkable.
On Dec. 2, 2012, I watched the Flames lose a close game to Georgia State. Liberty had began its season with eight straight losses, and, although the season had barely started, hope for a successful year of basketball looked dismal for the Flames. In the beginning of the season, the team had posted eight losses, seen two of its players quit, and had a player sustain a season-ending injury.
I was at most of Liberty's basketball games this season, and I saw the Flames struggle to pull out close games and get the wins they desperately needed. The team had to endure many losses throughout the season, but it never gave up.
On Jan. 29, I enjoyed being Back in the Stands to see the Flames put on the most impressive performance I had seen from them throughout the season. The team displayed great chemistry as it took down Campbell with impressive three-point shooting and several incredible dunks. Liberty had a few more losses ahead of them, but I feel like this game was a turning point for the Flames.
On March 5, the 20-loss Flames entered the Big South Conference tournament as an underdog, but they were ready to fight for the title. Liberty took down Coastal Carolina. Then, it shocked the Big South by defeating 1 seed High Point and 2 seed Gardner Web. Liberty than took on 1 seed Charleston Southern in the championship game and defeated the Buccaneers with a final score of 87-76.
After a difficult season, the Flames had captured the Big South title and a bid to the NCAA tournament. I’m excited to watch the Flames compete in the "big dance," as they face North Carolina A&T tonight, but watching the Flames overcome the many obstacles they faced to get the bid is almost more exciting. The Flames faced a lot of adversity throughout their season, but they achieved victory against all odds!
Posted at 1:20 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink