Discipling athletes, growing leaders

Michael Sanderson ’14

HOMETOWN: Rockford, Mich.
MAJORS: Elementary education, integrated science and mathematics

Leaders aren’t always the bold people; leaders can be behind the scenes as well.

For one week every August, 33 student leaders from Calvin's varsity athletic teams board a plane and travel to the Two Moose Ranch in southwest Montana. In this corner of Big Sky Country, life slows down. No phones. No Internet. So what draws them there?  

According to soccer player Michael Sanderson, it’s about leadership. “This is an opportunity to learn about you, your faith and your relationship with Christ; to learn what it means to lead and to challenge yourself to become a better leader.”

Over the past 10 years, more than 300 Calvin athletes have participated in the Gainey Leadership Retreat. They start by learning about themselves.  

“If you’re going to lead others, we think you need to first understand yourself well,” says associate chaplain Aaron Winkle.  

Wilderness hiking, group worship, talks by alumni athletes, around-the-world ping pong—even encounters with rattlesnakes—focus on team building, gaining trust and communicating with others.  

“In the book of John, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. By this act, we learn the great impact of servant leadership. Jesus led by example—we should do the same,” says Sanderson.  

“…Leaders aren’t always the bold people; leaders can be behind the scenes as well.”  

VERGE: fall 2013

First-Year Experience