Athletics

Trusting in God’s Perfect Plan

By Dot Richardson, April 18, 2022

When I was a little girl, I knew that God had given me a gift in athletics. I knew it because I loved sports so much and was pretty good at them. However, there was one problem: society did not allow young girls to play any organized sports. I had to watch my brothers play sports. In my prayers, I asked the Lord why He gave me this talent without any opportunity. Now, I know those were the words of a child because I didn’t know what the future would hold. We don’t know God’s plans for our lives. However, we do know God is holy, faithful, trustworthy, and delivers on His promises:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Dot Richardson at 10 years old

Then it happened. A coach asked me to play on his Little League baseball team, then told me that I would have to disguise myself as a boy to do so. I thanked him but said, “No thank you. I just don’t feel it’s right to hide who I am.” Thirty minutes later, another coach saw me playing baseball catch and asked me to play on her women’s fastpitch softball team, the Union Park Jets. Even though I was only 10 years old and the average age of the players was 22, Mom and Dad said I could play. I guess you would say the rest is history, from the Union Park Jets, to the Orlando Rebels, UCLA, Raybestos Brakettes, California Commotion, as well as numerous USA National teams, including five Pan American Games, five World Championships and two Olympic Gold medals.

The day I discovered fastpitch softball was the time I learned God hears our prayers. I have learned as I look back on my life that God’s plans for us far exceed what we can possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20). We do not have to hide who we are or the gifts God has given us. They are meant to be shared, in God’s timing and for His glory.

After the 2000 Olympics, Bob and I got married and I started my medical practice as an orthopedic surgeon. Soon I became executive director of a 300-acre sports, health, and education campus.

I was living the dream again and honestly thought I would eventually retire from this position. Until one day, when I was called into the CEO’s office and informed the Board decided to lease out each of the sports venues to not-for-profit organizations and that I would have six months to transition to do this with the softball complex. I was stunned at first because this discussion caught me completely by surprise. However, that only lasted for a few brief seconds because I have come to realize that when things like this happen in our lives, God has a plan and we need to trust it. Within a week or so, I was approached to run for city mayor and county commissioner. I KNEW that God wanted me in politics, or so I thought He did. I gave the decision to the Lord in prayer, asking Him to make the decision of where He wanted me to serve Him perfectly clear. And He did just that; the very next morning I received a phone call from the athletic director of Liberty University asking me to be the next head softball coach.

I let him know I had never been a head coach in college before. His response was, “We realize that. However, we feel the Lord is leading us to you.” My husband also knew this was a calling from God and to consider it. We both flew to Lynchburg and felt a peace that the Lord promises you will have when you are in His will. I accepted the job knowing the Lord is in control.

That first day at work, when I walked into the double-wide trailer which housed our coaches’ offices, team locker room, and umpire room for the first time, I couldn’t help but be excited to live out what God had in store for His Liberty Softball program. There is no doubt that God is moving at Liberty University and the entire athletics department. We have ascended the accomplishment and recognition ladder competing in two Regional Finals: just three wins away from the Women’s College World Series. And from those humble beginnings of a double-wide trailer to one of the most beautiful stadiums in the nation, God continues to shower His blessings upon us. Last season we ended ranked in the Top 25 (25) for the first time in program history, and we were ranked in the Top 25 (24) in numerous polls to start this 2022 season. Beyond the victories, our true success is our commitment to the Lord to impact His Kingdom by honoring Him to the best of our abilities and thanking Him for loving us so much.

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