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 1-7), an annual event to celebrate the accomplishments on and off the field of student-athletes in the NCAA's largest division.
By Trey Wood
(Covenant '19; Men's Tennis)
I found Covenant College at my high school's Christian College Fair in my junior year of high school. My mom asked me if I wanted to go because, at the time, I had not started my college search. Even though I was feeling sick and had lots of homework to do that night, my mom forced me to go. She also bribed me with a smoothie from Smoothie King, which made me want to go a little bit more.
When we arrived, my mother began "college shopping" for me by asking every booth how far away they were from Nashville, TN. Any school that was farther than 3 or 4 hours led to an immediate rejection from my mother as she pulled me to the next booth. We reached Covenant's booth and the admissions representative told us that Covenant was only about 2 hours away. That earned my mother's seal of approval for me to talk to the school. I asked the representative about the school, especially the tennis team because I wanted to play college tennis. The representative told me to write on my contact card that I played tennis and that she would give the card to the tennis coach when she returned to campus.
After our conversation, I filled out a contact card and about a week later, Coach John Hirte contacted me to set up a visit. After visiting a few times through Preview Weekend and Scholarship Weekend, I made my decision to come to Covenant.
If it wasn't for my mom (and a delicious smoothie) I would have never found Covenant.
Being a Covenant student-athlete has been an incredible experience that I will always cherish due to the people who have pushed me academically and physically.
In the classroom, professors demanded great effort from their students, especially Dr. Cale Horne. When I took my first class with Dr. Horne in the fall of my freshman year, I was unaware of what to expect. We began to write our research paper that was the main focus of the class, and I struggled quite a bit since I had never taken a political science class before, much less a research methods course. Since I was struggling, I asked Dr. Horne for some help and he was more than happy to give me some advice and help me work through the research topic. Our professional relationship continued to grow through various classes with him such as Comparative Politics, International Security, and Terrorism leading to my Senior Integration Paper.
Due to Dr. Horne's consistent high expectations, and equally matched help, throughout my academic career, I will be attending graduate school in the fall 2019 semester studying political science at a school yet to be decided upon as I work towards a PhD.
For athletics, I've had the opportunity to play on the men's tennis team since my freshman year. I've played with incredible people over the last few years who have been great teammates and are still close friends after they graduated. My coach, John Hirte, has expected me not only to come to practice every day to give my best, but also be a leader. Even freshman year when we only had 6 people and I was the only freshman on the team, Coach Hirte gave me a leadership role and helped me thrive in it.
Today being the team captain, Coach Hirte has continued to push me to be a strong leader of the team. He is constantly helping me guide the team in a strong direction that will set them up for future success while forming strong friendships. My goal for my time on the team was to leave the program better than I found it and Coach Hirte has helped me reach that goal 10 times over. I'm incredibly thankful for him as he has challenged me to be a leader even when I felt that I was not capable of leading.
The guidance of Coach Hirte and Dr. Horne have helped me become a better student-athlete than I could have imagined.
My time at Covenant has also provided me the opportunity to challenge and grow my faith. Covenant puts its students through rigorous classes in order to help them develop their biblical and doctrinal knowledge. Classes such as Old and New Testament, Christian Mind, and Christian Doctrine have provided me with the foundations of the faith as each class challenged me to weight what I believe, why, and how to defend my faith.
Covenant is also a gathering of incredible people that desire to walk alongside you in your faith. During the entirety of my junior year at Covenant, I had the blessing to spend every Sunday dinner at the Great Hall with a close friend, Erick Kruger, and go through John Frame's Salvation Belongs to the Lord. These meetings allowed us to grow our friendship as well as grow our relationship with the Lord. The book walked us through many important doctrines of the reformed faith and allowed us both to share our opinions as we sought to understand the Word of the Lord. No matter how much homework we had each week, we would always honor our commitment to Sunday dinners as a time of rest and fellowship. My time with Erick not only grew my relationship with the Lord, but it turned Erick into a life-long friend.
Overall, Covenant has been an incredible place to be a student-athlete due to the rigorous academics, coaches willing to invest in their players, and the opportunity to grow your faith alongside great people.