WATERTOWN, Wis. --- "Family." Many things come to mind when the word is spoken. For a large number of student-athletes at Maranatha Baptist University, family and sports have gone hand-in-hand this season.
"My family is very special to me," said Sabercats third-baseman Adam Courtney. "Without them, I wouldn't be the person I am today." Courtney, his twin brother Caleb, and their younger brother Sam have made up one-third of the Sabercats' starting lineup on the baseball diamond already this season, and the trio from Iowa are three of some 44 current student-athletes at Maranatha who have competed with a sibling this season.
"We grew up playing baseball in the backyard together with all of our siblings and now being able to play together at a collegiate level with them is something special that doesn't happen very often," Courtney commented. "Competing with my brothers has not only challenged me to grow in the game of baseball, but also to grow in my spiritual walk here at MBU. They are the people that, if I have a problem I'm dealing with or am struggling with something, I can go to and talk about it and figure it out."
Of the 44 siblings that have donned the Blue and Gold in 2016-17, 30 of those siblings have actually been teammates. Five brother/sister combinations also make the list. In the current school year, all 10 of the MBU intercollegiate sport offerings had at least one rostered player with a student-athlete sibling at MBU. Of the remaining student-athletes, a large number have had a sibling or parent (or both) compete for Maranatha in the past.
"I think it's special to play sports at the same university as my brother," said MBU Softball standout Katelyn Hockema, whose brother Caleb is a freshman on the Men's Soccer Team. "I can go to his games and support him and he can come to my games and support me. I love having the opportunity to watch my brother play sports at the same school I attend. It's really been great to have family support during the season."
Family bonds are powerful. These student-athletes have grown up together. They trust each other. They know each other. There is also perhaps a hint of sibling rivalries (the healthy kind) that exist in each relationship. But all in all, no one can deny the bond that exists amongst siblings. So, we at mbusabercats.com decided to sit down with a couple of pairs of Sabercat siblings to learn more about them.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: AUDREY AND KEVIN RISMA
We took a few moments to catch up with Audrey and Kevin Risma, who hail from Fort Collins, Colorado. Audrey had a standout four-year career on the Sabercats Women's Soccer team: she was named as Regional Player of the Year for three years running in the NCCAA, and the three-time All-American was named NCCAA DII National Player of the Year in 2015. Audrey is finishing up her Humanities - Applied Science degree this spring.
Kevin, a Sophomore studying youth ministries, has proven his versatility as an athlete by playing both basketball and soccer at MBU. Kevin is clearly a fan favorite for the Sabercats, and has two seasons under his belt on the Men's Basketball team. Risma joined the Men's Soccer team last fall, and quickly broke into the starting lineup by making 17 starts in 19 appearances while contributing five goals and two assists on the season.
Audrey said that she first heard about MBU during her freshman year of high school at a youth conference, and Kevin first learned of Maranatha when MBU's Soccer Ministry Team conducted a camp at his high school, Front Range Baptist Academy, in 2012. Our interview went something like this:
"To me, family means closeness and support," said Audrey. "When I'm with my family I feel completely comfortable to be myself. My family has supported me by bringing me back to truth when I stray, and cheering me on in my endeavors. Family also means fun and laughter!"
We also learned that there are seven Risma children. Audrey and Kevin's younger brother Jack is the youngest of the family.
For the Risma's, family get-togethers are a common thing. When asked about those reunions, "[It's] craziness," said Kevin. "We come from a very big family full of big personalities! It is a time full of laughter and teasing each other. There's also tons of food which is awesome! We usually end up playing a game, drinking coffee, and watching some sports or a movie."
The brother/sister duo have shared a lot of experiences together, including getting lost late at night on the way home from the Denver airport to Fort Collins. According to Audrey, the two wound up on a "sketchy back road" in Nebraska, and Kevin - the self-proclaimed superior driver - commented that it was Audrey's phone that got them lost.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: EMILEE AND MADELYN HANSEL
New Englanders by birth, Emilee and Madelyn Hansel now reside in Watertown and are a sister duo for the Sabercats. Emilee is a four-year veteran of the Women's Basketball Team, and played volleyball during her freshman year. Madelyn finished her second season as a runner for MBU Women's Cross Country last fall, and has helped the team to back-to-back top-three finishes at NCCAA DII Nationals.
Emilee - who has earned NCCAA and MBU Scholar-Athlete honors for the maximum two years allowed - is studying English education, and Madelyn is a sophomore biblical counseling major with a minor in criminal justice.
"I appreciate my teachers at MBU," said Emilee, who has shown through her diligent studies that she has a clear interest in education. "They are knowledgable, understanding, and passionate. I hope to be like them someday when I am a teacher." Madelyn hailed the diversity of opportunities as something that draws her interest to Maranatha: "Whether sports, fine arts, or ministry opportunities, there is something for everyone," she said.
In talking to the Hansel sisters, we at MBUSABERCATS.COM learned quite a bit more about the duo:
ALL IN THE FAMILY: SABERCAT COACHES
The family legacies go beyond the student-athletes to the coaching staff at MBU. Each one of the nine head coaches on the Sabercat Athletic Staff has had either a sibling or a child compete for Maranatha in intercollegiate competition.
|Head Coach||Children (sport, years)|
|Rob Thompson (SB)||Emily (WVB, 2011-14; SB, 2012-15)||Brittany (WVB, 2008)|
|Gary Garrison (BSB)||Jason (BSB, 2009-12; FB, 2010-12; MBKB, 2009)||Jessica (WXC, 2009-11)||Jordan (BSB, 2014-present)|
|Regina DeLozier (WVB)||Kedra (WVB, 2005-08)||Torey (WVB, 2009-12; WBKB, 2009-13; SB, 2010-13)||Drew (MSOC, 2011-14; MBKB, 2011-12)|
|Jeff Pill (MSOC)||Sarah (WSOC, 2009)||Taylor (MSOC, 2011-14)|
|Clayton Morrison (WBKB)||Matt (MBKB, 2008-11; FB 2010-12)||Kristin (WBKB, 2009-13; SB, 2010-13)||Clayton (MBKB, 2013-17; FB, 2013-16)|
|Siblings (sport, years)|
|David Anderson (WSOC)||Daniel (MSOC, 2012-15)|
|Ruth Steinbart (WXC, MXC)||Josh (MXC, 2003-06)||Isaiah (MXC, 2008-09, MSOC, 2010-11)|
|Keith Salscheider (MBKB)||Nathan (MBKB, 2008-09)||Joel (MBKB, 2008-09)|
Not to be forgotten is the father/son duo of Jeff and Joel Borchardt on the Men's Basketball coaching staff. Both Borchardts have been integral parts of the program, and share the father/son experience on the coaching staff.
"[In] over the nearly 50 years of MBU, scores of students have followed an older sibling, parent, or grandparent to Maranatha Baptist University," said Director of Alumni Relations, Dr. John Davis. "The life values that are solidified during a person's college years serve to guide graduates as they establish their own families. Is it not surprising to see this scenario repeated multiple times among our student body, especially given the fact that over 50 percent of our alumni are married to another alumnus!
"When grads return to campus there are many stories of, 'back in our day' along with 'we never had it this good!' It is obvious that family members may have different Maranatha experiences but share the same rich spiritual impact of a personal love for the Lord and a deep burden for serving Him through their local church."
Sabercat sports this season truly have been family events. Below is a list of all the student-athlete siblings that have represented Maranatha Baptist University in the 2016-17 sports season:
|Matthew and Nathan Abrams||(FB)|
|Mac and Mitch Allen||(MSOC, BSB)|
|Bethany and Rachael Chesky||(WSOC)|
|Adam, Caleb, and Sam Courtney||(BSB)|
|Caleb and Ethan Gillespie||(MXC)|
|Emilee and Madelyn Hansel||(WBKB, WXC)|
|Caleb and Katelyn Hockema||(MSOC, SB)|
|Alexis, Karley, and Kelsey Johnson||(WVB, WBKB)|
|Elijah and Ezekiel Kazarovich||(FB)|
|Robert and Tim Kile||(MXC)|
|Laura and Rory Massey||(WXC, MXC)|
|Elijah and Hannah May||(BSB, WBKB/SB)|
|Arthur and Matthew Nutzhorn||(MXC)|
|Caleb and Rachel Prigge||(BSB, WSOC)|
|Kevin and Audrey Risma||(MSOC/MBKB, WSOC)|
|Joe and Thomas Starr||(FB)|
|Clayton and Devon Steuerwald||(FB)|
|Katie (Vander Pluym) Holbrook and Sarah Vander Pluym||(WXC)|
|Hannah and Rachel Wells||(WBKB, WVB)|
|Alicyn and Lauryn Wigdal||(WXC)|
|Alyssa and Bethany Wright||(WBKB/WSOC, WSOC)