NOTE: This is part of a series on athletics.covenant.edu with feature stories written by the student-athletes about their time at Covenant. The series is in conjunction with NCAA Division III Week (April 2-8), an annual event to celebrate the accomplishments on and off the field of student-athletes in the NCAA's largest division.
By Patjo Twagirayezu
(Covenant '18; Men's Basketball)
God has used the game of basketball to bless me, not only to come to the USA, but more specifically, to be able to attend Covenant College.
Starting in Rwanda, I made friends and connections through playing basketball and as I did, doors of opportunity started to open up. One of them led me to come to the US to finish my high school education and continue on to college.
I was born three months after my dad was killed in the Rwandan Genocide. Growing up without my father was difficult in many ways, financially and emotionally. As I grew, basketball became my outlet, my escape from the struggles I experienced. Even though I did not realize it at the time, God was blessing me with an opportunity that would uplift me for years after.
When I came to the US in 2011, and began attending Asheville Christian Academy, I didn't speak English at all. Obviously, this made not only cultural integration difficult, but it also made school very challenging. Basketball became an escape for me again. I didn't have to read, write, or speak English much in order to excel in it.
In the fall of 2015, I transferred into Covenant from Milligan College, due to financial reasons. I came here because my friend, Ben Phelps from high school, connected me to Coach Taylor, who then helped me with the application process. I would not be here if it was not for God, who allowed all these wonderful people to do what they did in order to help me get a good education and also play Covenant College basketball.
Basketball itself was not always that easy to deal with, even though it was a blessing from above. I encountered many injuries and emotional times along the way, but those moments taught me to work hard and persevere, which along with other factors, have shaped me into the person that I am today. God used all these trying moments to remind me that basketball was just a tool that He was using to bless me and for me to glorify His name, not something to idolize, which comes naturally, due to my competitive nature.
Now that basketball has come to an end, I understood better why God chose to test me in the ways that He did. My ultimate purpose on earth is not comfort or stability. I look back on the trials that I have experienced and see God's faithfulness to me, as He taught me to depend on Him. Throughout my life, I had basketball to cling to, but now that it is over, it is challenging to imagine what the future holds without it. But just like my mother told me, "God is in charge and He will provide every time."