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Not For Self

Covenant men's soccer players vie for the ball during a recent practice
(photo credit: Hogan Hickman/Sports Information)

By Emma Grimes / Athletic Communications Assistant

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- It is rare to find a team today with a mission to elevate others. Herein lies the uniqueness of the vision of Covenant men's soccer program's "Not For Self" mantra.

Head coach, Scott Bosgraf, began implementing Not For Self around four years ago when he became the head of the program. He credits its origins to a sermon he heard at church that affected him. 

"I really thought this phrase entitled how I would want our program to think and act in all situations," said Bosgraf. "As coaches, we try to point the guys to verses like Mark 10:45, 1 Peter 4:10, and Philippians 2:3-4. We talk a lot about service, how we can serve Christ and others with our actions on and off the field.  

"We try to implement Not For Self in everything we do."


The success that the Scots have enjoyed is obvious to see. Covenant went 18-2-2 during the 2019 season with a perfect 13-0 USA South record and a West Division regular season title. Covenant is currently on an 18-match regular season win streak within the USA South.

However, the Not For Self idea runs much deeper than a bond on the field. It has now blossomed into something that carries into the team's life outside of soccer. 

A senior captain, Parker Owen believes that the phrase has greatly influenced his life as a whole.

"Not For Self has become such a great part of my life on and off the pitch," said Owen, a two-time All-USA South selection. "It means a great deal to me because it is the lifestyle that I want to live. For me, Not For Self is forgetting about myself and realizing it is not about me."

Continued Owen, "when I am on the field it reminds me that I am playing for a bigger purpose. I will have bad games, but the beauty of it is it's not about me. I am not playing for personal glory, but the glory of God. I think this translates to off the field as well. I think this looks like not wanting to do well and do other things for myself, but rather for the Covenant community as a whole and even the glory of God."

Senior Noah Lee, a 2019 All-USA South honoree and now a captain, echoes Owen's sentiments.

"Not For Self extends in all areas of life from soccer to doing life. We can't have intentions of personal gain. The team doesn't win games by playing individual soccer; we have to all be on the same page and work together. Similarly, off the pitch, we can't do life alone. We are meant for community and part of that is through caring and serving others."


Knowing they are in positions of leadership, Owen and Lee strive to lead by example and model the Not For Self mission in everything they do. 

"As captains, we want to serve juniors all the way down to freshmen," emphasized Owen. "This is the Not For Self attitude that we are trying to spread among the players on the team because we want this to be something that is a hallmark for Covenant soccer."

Lee also strives to be a player that his teammates and other students can imitate.

"On the field, I try to implement Not For Self in my work ethic," said Lee. "I try to give my best in every drill. When we come to practice, we are there to work hard, focus, and get better. Not For Self comes in doing those things; otherwise it doesn't benefit us."

The mantra has even found a place in current times where due diligence is required to protect the Covenant community and others from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Not for Self has driven our response, especially this season with COVID-19," added Lee. "We are trying to be great leaders by wearing masks, social distancing, and being responsible to try to care for others, especially the most vulnerable. There was definitely a lot of disappointment with not having a fall season, but we've found joy in being able to train together."

In keeping with the motto, the men's soccer program also implements traditions of service into each season. Bosgraf has his teams participate in several service projects each year, including those through Project52 -- a local service organization run by Covenant professor Dr. Chris Robinson -- and other opportunities in the Chattanooga community. 

"We strive to make serving others well a part of each day," added Bosgraf. "We talk to our guys about making service the norm in daily activities, making service part of your routine so serving becomes natural in all situations. We also talk about serving without looking for recognition. We want our motivations to be pure and serve as Christ and for Christ."


Not For Self is no doubt a unique team motto to have. Both Owen and Lee credit it with giving their team a uniqueness that follows them wherever they play.

"Having Not For Self on our warm-up shirts sends a message to the other team and also their fans," noted Owen. "It is not just three words we throw around and have on our shirts. It is a motto by how we go about our daily lives as not only individuals but also as a team.

"We are so thankful that we have a coaching staff that helps us and implements this Not For Self attitude on the team. It is apparent that they live this out in their lives as well which translates to us as a team."

Lee believes that the main difference between Covenant's soccer program and other teams is whom they play for.

"We play for Christ. That translates to working for each other and building each other up," added Lee. "So many teams we play tear each other down and play for themselves. Not for Self on our team means doing the right things for each other."

The men's soccer program has a rich history of success dating back to the late 1960s to the present, and Bosgraf credits it all to Christ and to their focus on Not For Self.

"When we play for God's glory and for each other, giving our best and using the abilities and talents God has given each of us, we believe we will be successful," said Bosgraf. "To be able to play a great game that we all love for our King gives us great satisfaction."


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