By GRACE DENNIS
Gannon University held its annual Golden Knight Awards banquet Monday at the Bayfront Convention Center to honor student-athletes and all their accomplishments for the 2017-2018 season.
Several athletes were in attendance, including myself, as I am on the women’s cross country team, to support one another as well as all of the coaches and members of the athletic staff.
Events such as this one have allowed me the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate all of the support the Gannon community provides to one another, in this case, highlighting the support for student-athletes.
There are 21 sports teams on Gannon’s campus, soon to be 22 with the addition of women’s wrestling.
There are hundreds of student- athletes participating in this wide array of sports, as there are at universities all over the country.
However, a unique part of sports at Gannon is the aspect of faith and how that plays a role in athletics at our university.
Not only are we supported by one another and the Gannon community, but we are supported by Campus Ministry as well.
For example, before each sporting event at Gannon, students have the opportunity to volunteer to read a specific prayer.
This allows for a time of prayerful reflection and to offer thanks to God for the immense talent and abilities of these athletes as well as gratitude for the strong dedication of the coaches, referees, spectators and so on.
Another unique opportunity we have is retreats for athletes, such as the retreat held for the women’s lacrosse team this fall, where faith is able to play a part in the vital and key role of team bonding and building a solid respect and understanding of and for one another.
In my specific experience as a student-athlete, prayer with my team before cross country meets led by our coach, John Carrig, is not merely a tradition, but a necessary action for myself and many members of my team.
Even at Monday’s awards banquet, members of Campus Ministry were there to show their support and offer prayer at the beginning of the ceremony.
Even small gestures, like coming to the banquet, mean a lot to the athletes and staff, especially considering the fact that many other colleges and universities don’t have the same opportunity.
Thanks to Gannon, we are able to integrate faith into athletics in a beautiful way, and I am very grateful for that, as are many of my fellow student-athletes.
While support from the community and fellow students is extremely important and appreciated, the support received by Campus Ministry and all members of our faith community is a special aspect of our Gannon experience.
As we close out the semester and spring sports are coming to the end of their seasons, I want to wish all athletes the best, whether that be in training for upcoming seasons or finishing this season as strong as possible.
Also, to the Gannon community, whether that be students, faculty, staff or Campus Ministry, for your continued support in all that we do and for allowing us to express our faith through our sports, thank you.