Dangers of isolation in professional sports

Dangers of isolation in professional sports

Reid Priddy is a fiercely competitive volleyball player. It is that approach that has helped him have a long and prosperous career in professional volleyball and be part of the United States national team since 2000, allowing him to represent his country in four Olympic Games. That on-court ferocity has helped Reid develop in his spiritual life as well.

“It was right before the 2004 Games when I felt God really freeing me up to be a fierce competitor,” Reid recalls. “Ferocious is the word that summed up the passionate competitiveness that is how God made me. Unleashing that to go out on a day-to-day basis and try to win and be the best I could be was a huge breaking point for me.

“Volleyball has been a major way God communicates life lessons to me,” Reid continues. “They go hand-in-hand; what I’m learning on the volleyball court I am able to apply in life and vice versa.”

Reid sees the comparisons between growing as an elite-level volleyball player and growing in one’s spiritual maturity.

“As you start out, you are at a certain level. Then as you mature a lot of little bad habits and inconsistencies in your game get exposed. They are not necessarily huge things, but they are technically bad in your approach as a volleyball player and chances for you to be lazy, and they can turn into big things if they go unchecked,” he says. “The same can go for your spiritual life. You don’t want the little things to add up there either because it affects your overall life.”

During the maturing process either as a player or as a Christian, there is always a lot of room for character development and spiritual growth to happen.

Reid relies on the discipline he has learned on and off the court to build relationships with others. It is these relationships that have seen Reid through his years on the U.S. national team as well as a lengthy professional volleyball career spent mostly in Europe.

The reality of how important relationships are to Christians hit Reid early in his career abroad.

“It was almost like I was in isolation. It gets lonely really quickly,” says Reid. “I was sort of a hermit and wasn’t relating to people around me. I was sort of learning under a particular theology that was very black and white and that was safe and comfortable; all you needed to do was learn the rules and try to stay within that.

“I saw myself becoming an island, having no effect on anybody and letting nobody else have an effect on me.”

Reid re-connected with some of his college friends from Loyola Marymount who were continuing their education at Biola University. They encouraged him to consider the freedom Christians have within their relationship to Christ.

“Instead of thinking of this as a mission field, I’m just trying to be a complete person,” Reid says. “I want to live out my beliefs and build relationships. I think establishing those relationships and developing a brotherhood of love, respect and caring seems to be the most important thing.

“There are always opportunities to show God’s love,” he continues. “My teammates have seen me at my best and my worst. I just want to continue to grow those relationships and to be really concerned about their growth and development as people as well.”

By Tommy Young, AIA Communications Photos by FIBA: Top photo: Reid Priddy (left) goes for an attack on the net against a summer opponent leading up to the 2012 Olympics. Bottom photo: Reid celebrates a point for the US team in summer play.

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