NOTE: This is part of a series on athletics.covenant.edu with feature stories written by the student-athletes about their time at Covenant. This series is in conjunction with NCAA Division III Week (April 3-9), an annual event to celebrate the accomplishments on and off the field of student-athletes in the NCAA's largest division.
By Jordan Brett
(Covenant '17; Softball and Women's Soccer)
To put it simply, I am from the middle of nowhere. I grew up five hours south of the Mountain in Emanuel County between the cities of Swainsboro, Kite, and Adrian, Georgia. My neck of the woods is quiet with wide open spaces. There are rivers and ponds for fishing and hunting ducks, land for farming and dove shoots, and lots of woods for exploring and deer hunting. I spent 13 years - from K5 to 12th grade - in a single-A private school in the middle of another nowhere - Stillmore, Georgia, where I played varsity softball, varsity basketball, and ran varsity track.
I was fortunate enough to be able to play travel fastpitch softball out of Macon for two years with the Georgia Heat and three years out of Dacula (Gwinnett County) with the Dacula Lady Falcons. While playing at a tournament in Chattanooga, I received an email from then-Covenant head softball coach Sara Russell asking if I wanted to come to an exposure camp at Covenant College. I trashed the email because I had never heard of the school. Weeks later, Russell sent me a flyer in the mail. My mom and I decided we needed to look up the school on the internet and just see what it was about and where it was. We were both speechless, but we talked about how those pictures had to be doctored-up because there was no way it was a beautiful as it appeared. So I emailed Russell and told her I would attend the camp. On our ride up, my mom and I were pretty cynical in our conversations, but nevertheless, this was an exposure camp, so I really wanted to do my best.
I can still remember that first trip up the mountain. It was a beautiful clear morning, and the view of Chattanooga, as we were climbing, took my breath away. When we finally reached campus, my mom and I were speechless. My dad called us, but all we could say was "gorgeous" and "incredible"- which doesn't do this mountain justice. I was getting excited! I could feel God moving inside of me right that very moment. Was this where God wanted me to go? But then, I remembered that I had to perform at this exposure camp - doubt set in. Will I be good enough? Will they like me? What if I mess up?
We began with some drills and then we had a little scrimmage. In my first at bat, I stepped up to the plate thinking "this is it." I was so nervous! I took a breath and did what I had done since I was 5-years old, I hit the ball. It felt really good. It was a line drive over the left field fence. At that very moment, there was no more doubt, for I knew this is where I belonged - God wanted me here. After a campus tour from some of the players, I told my mom, "I'm going here."
I have always been on the shy and quiet side; in fact, my kindergarten teacher told my mom that if I didn't start talking in class, I would not be able to pass Kindergarten. Twelve years later, I graduated with a class of 20 people - 12 of whom I've known all my life, so Covenant did seem rather large to me. Driving up on freshman move-in day, I was quite anxious - this was the first time in my life I was starting completely over. Then, before I could even get my car unloaded, a loving Covenant community scooped me up and took me in.
I had signed up for outside work detail and was assigned to the Athletic Grounds where I was placed under the care of my new boss, Don Morris (known as Chief to all). Chief has been my mentor, my parent, and my friend since day one. He has taught me how to be genuine and honest with everyone. He has taught me how to work hard and take the initiative to figure things out on my own. He helped me come out of my shell.
Freshman and sophomore years flew by. My days were filled with class, work, and softball. I met some very sweet and caring friends, and we made a lot of memories while on campus and exploring Chattanooga. During both softball seasons, I was able to set a few records, was the first player in school history to hit for the cycle, and was selected to the USA South All-Conference second team. I was working hard in both the classroom and on the field, but I felt as if this wasn't quite all I was sent here to do. I didn't feel like something was missing, but I didn't feel complete either. I knew I belonged, but I didn't feel like I really fit. I began wondering if I was supposed to be doing something more, and if so, where and what?
At the end of my sophomore year, my softball coach called me into her office. She told me that the head women's soccer coach, Mark Duble, wanted to know if I was interested in playing soccer for the Lady Scots. The only thought going through my head was, "YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!" You see, I had never held a soccer ball in my life, much less kicked one. With unbelief and much doubt, I met with Coach Duble. After I explained my lack of soccer experience, I assumed he would realize he'd made a mistake; but instead, he responded with, "well at least you won't have any bad habits." He really was serious!
I am a Biology major with a bio-medical concentration, I already play a varsity sport, AND I work… where was soccer going to fit in? My mom gave me something to think about: "You have two choices - either you try it or you don't. If you try it, and fail, what have you lost? If you don't try it, will you regret it for the rest of your life?" I decided that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I was going to play. I was in shape. I had played sports my entire life. This couldn't really be THAT hard… right?
Preseason soccer practice brought me back early to campus. Even though I was a junior, I felt like a freshman again being greeted by my new team. Going into my first practice of the day, I figured we would review the basics, like how to kick a soccer ball correctly or how to play the game, but that wasn't on Coach Duble's practice plan. He instructed everyone to get a ball and begin juggling it and moving around. Was he crazy?!? What does juggling even mean? I was trying to avoid running over someone, trying not to let people see my weaknesses, but there was no hiding it - I was a fish out of water. Coach Duble then instructed the team to begin to do certain skills while he told me to "keep running around." I then split off to my first goalie practice with Coach E (assistant coach Gene Ezell) and freshman keeper Rachel Lemay. Despite my lack of any knowledge of this game, not once did any player or coach make me feel inferior or out-of-place.
I did make it through the first morning of soccer practice, but I didn't know if I was going to be able to make it to my car. Every piece of my body ached. I looked at Rachel and asked her how she thought practice was, thinking she was going to be a little sore herself, but she said it was one of the easiest practices she had ever had. I went back to my room and crawled into my bed wondering how I was going to make it to a second practice that afternoon. I did make it through the first day of practice and every practice after that and was able to learn how to play the game and enjoy it with the tremendous support from the coaches and players.
For the first time in my life, I had to work hard just to be at the bottom. Up until this point, I really hadn't had to work hard for anything. I lived in the same small town all of my life where everyone watched me grow up. I played baseball/softball since I was 5, so I was able to learn a little and improve each year. For 13 years, I was in the same school building with the same teachers and students. I paid attention in class, so good grades came easily. I worked for my family and neighbors, so there was nothing difficult there. I spent a lot of time traveling with my family, so I didn't have a lot of peer pressure to deal with or big decisions to make on the weekends. I was coasting through life and God wanted me to change. God used soccer to wake me up. I was thrown out of my comfort zone further than I had ever been, and I was finally growing. I like to have all my ducks in a row, but now I didn't even know where the ducks were!
God taught me how to be a supporter - how to be a friend. For the first time, I was on the sideline. For the first time, I had to be patient. It was hard, but I had so much love and support behind me that the journey was worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears. While in Costa Rica with the soccer team mission trip, God even placed me in front of a group of young people so that I could give my testimony. I don't do things like that! God was moving in my life and all I could do was hold on.
Fast forward now to my senior year. Hard to believe that this is it. It is all bittersweet - how do I leave this mountain where I have grown so much as a person, where I have made lifelong friends, and where I have had such an awesome relationship with God? But at the same time, I am excited about what God has in store for me - what door is He going to open next?
My second soccer season was phenomenal! In softball we have a new head coach and the most successful team we've had since I've been here. We made the conference tournament in soccer and made the tournament in softball. I couldn't ask for a better way to end this year - last season…best season!
Looking back over my years at Covenant, I have been so blessed. I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful place or a better environment to grow in. Not only do I physically feel closer to my God on top of this mountain, I have never been more spiritually close to Him. For the first time in my life, I have true friends and two teams who are as close as family and have a permanent place in my heart. And I have Chief - who I will be able to call on, talk with, and ask advise for as long as he will put up with me.
Since I was six, I have had a desire to be a children's dentist, so I majored in Biology with a bio-medical concentration. I plan on working in medical research for a year or two while studying for the DAT and applying to dental schools. God has led me this far, I just have to keep following Him and make sure I stay on the path that He has set for me. Waiting, following, and the unknown have been extremely hard for me, but the hardest part so far will be having to say goodbye to my life here on top of this mountain.