Four Insights: Athletics and Spiritual Development

January 22, 2024

Hannah Zgrablich Ogden ‘14

Head Field Hockey Coach

Hospitality is a pivotal building block in the spiritual formation on our team. It is important to me to create an environment within my team where everyone feels comfortable to both generously share and graciously receive one another’s time, energy, homes, families, viewpoints, love and care. I strive to build a culture of hospitality, first, tangibly—sharing meals together, interacting with each other’s families, and offering more hands to make light work. By making regular practice of tangible hospitality with one another, I see hospitality building and growing in meaningful intangible ways—trust grows, willingness to give and receive accountability increases, and there is an overall sense that, though we may have different questions, backgrounds, and viewpoints, we are walking through life together. My goal and my prayer is to continue actively demonstrating hospitality—an open home, a loving family and a sense of community, where my athletes feel safe to join in the process of both the building and the being built.

Hannah (Zgrablich’14) Ogden pictured with her team in header image.

Houghton athletic coach Patrick Hager clapping hands on field.

Patrick Hager

Head Men’s & Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field Coach

I try to not settle into one way of doing things spiritually. I leave room for creativity, voices to be heard, time for quiet reflection, as they come. I enjoy working each season with our team chaplains, particularly giving them the freedom to lead and be a resource to their team. I encourage focusing on hearing personal testimony from teammates; these tend to be the most meaningful messages we hear all year. The last few years, I’ve worked to integrate more time for reflection and journaling. I enjoy asking my student-athletes a few pointed questions and letting them write their thoughts and share with the group instead of always listening. We have a tradition of singing the Doxology after every cross-country meet. It slows things down after heated competition and allows us to reflect in prayer through song. It centers us in gratitude, humility and joy regardless of the outcome that day. My goal is to be a positive, thoughtful and inquisitive presence in students’ lives during their time at Houghton. When I start there, often, deeper conversations and happenings follow.

Jeremy Bialek

Head Men’s Basketball Coach

About 15 years ago God turned my sights from striving to win toward discipleship and excellence. I had been focused on becoming more competitive as a team, and it affected the way I treated my players, my family and myself. Once I allowed God to change my heart and I started working with Him to change my players’ hearts, winning naturally followed. Players that play freely, knowing that their identity and worth are not tied to athletic performance, tend to see better results. It behooves me to make God’s love, Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, and the overcoming power of the Spirit well known to our team through devotions, chapel, teambuilding events, practices, games and individual meetings. Once we know we are loved, we must share that love with EVERYONE around us – even our opponents and officials. Then, our athletic activity will not just be buffeting our bodies but truly be a light in a dark sports world.

…God turned my sights from striving to win toward discipleship and excellence.

Coach Jermey Bialek

Houghton athletic coach Jeremy Bialek coaching the men's basketball team on the court.

Houghton athletic coach Chad Muise coaching the softball team.

Chad Muise ‘15

Head Softball Coach

The members from our softball team come from many different backgrounds of spiritual engagement. As a team, we find it a joy and a privilege to grow together spiritually in an understanding that God created each of us uniquely to be loved by Him and to love those around us for His glory. Together, we work to know Him better by serving the community around us, spending time praying for each other, and spending time in devotion together. As a program, we strive to practice the unconditional love that Christ shares with us.