When I arrived in Ankeny, Iowa for the start of school, I had no idea how my life would be impacted by my dorm mates in Dorm 230. Widely believed by all to be the finest dorm on campus, both in its sheer aesthetic appearance as well as the quality of men that resided inside, Dorm 230 was like the Tent of Meeting in the Old Testament -- it was the place where God spoke to our campus.
Well, it was at least where He created one of the greatest championship teams in dorm ball history.
During my Freshman year, we began a dorm-policy that stated that all members of the dorm were required to play on a dorm ball team. While we certainly had the corner on holiness, we may have been lacking on athletic skill. By my third year we were the opposite of a basketball dream team. Adam was a hockey player who could skate like a champ, but found running a challenge. Heppner had a nice hair and that was about it. The two farm boys from Nebraska could throw a bail of hay 100’ in the air and have it land on the back of a hay truck, but couldn’t put a basketball in the net if they were sitting on top of the hoop. Jason was the nicest guy on the court and would definitely have received a participation certificate and Craig only scored twice in three seasons; once during practice and once during a game (in which we called a time out, hoisted him to the net and took a picture).
Jamie was all heart...seriously, no talent, just Hart. (Jamie Hart...see what I did there?) Will and Ryan were fierce in their own rights, but honestly, were far better equipped for their musical conquests, than for their on-the-court finesse. Mark and Chad were decent players, but their off-the-court distractions with Jenna and Tammy respectively, totally competed for their basketball allegiances.
Fozzy was pure energy and during his bouts of extreme motion appeared to have 3 or 4 sets of arms and legs, thus intimidating our opponents but making it hard to throw to a target. Greg and Scotty were roommates and demonstrated some skill as long as no defenses showed up. Steve was a little on the...um...short side and often used his marine training to injure opponents instead of blocking them out or setting screens. TP was our best dressed player, but his social calendar often kept him off-the-court. And I rounded out our two-team troupe, a pure shooter in every sense of the word -- I could miss 23 in a row and still believe my next hot streak was just one shot away (In fact, at one point I think I actually missed 13 in a row). Over the years, more than one of my coaches has encouraged me with, “You building a house with all them bricks?” Hilarious.
During the regular season our two teams combined for a record of 1-15; Team-B’s only victory came against Team-A. As dorm ball goes, however, all teams make the playoffs. And so it was, that Team-A (the legendary team I was honored to be a part of) began the greatest intramural basketball run in college sports history. And by the way, I’m never prone to exaggeration.
Our first game was against the seminary team. They had won the previous year’s championship and everyone mostly hated them (in Christian brotherly love, of course). They were dominant, they were all older and most of them were married and thought they were waaaay cooler than us single guys. We mainly viewed them as grumpy. However talented they were, and undefeated (a perfect 8-0), they were unable to overcome what sports historians have called, “The Miracle in a Corn Field”, when Team-A dominated them from the outside.
At one point, 5 consecutive 3-pointers rained down terror on the poor seminarians and they never recovered. In a moment of pure vanity, I had a stolen ball at the top of the key, dribbled to the three point line and instead of driving in for the easy lay-up, I dropped a three and taunted my enemies. Seemed biblical for some reason. But as time started to wind down, the seminarians made a brief comeback, suddenly remembering that they were the better team. With 10 seconds to go, they cut the lead to two and in a botched attempt to run out the clock, we turned the ball over with about five ticks left on the clock. I see it all like it was yesterday. Brian inbounded the ball to Mark. Mark took one dribble, then passed it to the other Mark who worked himself to the top of the key. He pulled up for a three to win the game and instead, air-balled as the buzzer sounded.
I remember him screaming for a call because he said someone hit his arm when he took the shot. Sure I may have made a little contact. Sure he had a red mark on his forearm the same shape and size as my hand, but in my defense, I was trying to “high-five” him for what I thought was a very well-played game. I told you they were grumpy old men.
Team-B didn’t fair as well as Team-A in round one, but since many of their team members were also in the Pep Band, they supported us with heart-pounding music and inspirational half-time speeches. We rolled through round two and found ourselves face-to-face with Dorm 226 in the championship.
What many sports authorities have called, “The greatest single basketball game to ever take place in Ankeny, Iowa” (I hear some recent games involving individuals scoring a 100 pts have ranked a close second!) Team-A defeated the would-be spoilers in a thrilling game that ended when said opponents argued a call with :26 seconds left (down 6) and Coach blew the whistle exclaiming that the contest was over. A great victory occurred.
It has been said that old men wept when they heard the news of our victory. The stock market rose 147 points the next morning, republicans and democrats got along for almost three minutes that afternoon and many an Iowan farmer has stated that the sun was warmer, the air was cleaner and the stars were brighter in the early spring of 1995.
Dorm 230 was a great dorm, and not just because of the miracle season of 1995. It was a great dorm because of how we banded together in the crazy adventure of college life. I’m thankful for those guys who came along side me and encouraged me in my walk with God, I really needed that during my college years. TP and I were roommates our second year there, and more than once we had great moments of challenge as we were both learning to use our gifts for God’s glory and not our own. Today Terry serves as a pastor just a few miles from where Traci and I serve at the camp.
On one occasion, TP and I were on a double date, each of us was hanging out with a girl from the volleyball team. I totally ruined the date on two occasions, one of which involved me cracking an incredibly inappropriate joke following a story that should not have been told in mixed company. Later that night Terry came to me and called me on it. He properly rebuked me and after a brief moment of sarcastic anger (proving he was right) I called up the girls I offended and apologized. I even made arrangements to take my date out again for make-up date, and she was gracious enough to forgive me, and even enjoyed our second outing.
Dorm 230 taught me how important it is to have accountability in our lives. My theme-verses for 2014 come from Hebrews 12:1-2 where the author tells us to “run our race” and says, “let us throw off everything that hinders...” Notice the “us” in both those statements? The writer is challenging his readers to run with a friend, to be close to someone who is after the same goal.
In Proverbs Solomon reminds us that “wounds from a friend can be trusted” and that “Iron sharpens Iron” -- we need people around us who will keep us sharp, keep us accountable. Terry’s words were painful, but they were true; they hurt, but they could be trusted because Terry was helping me be a better man, a more godly guy. He was helping to sharpen me and I needed that, and I still do today.
We can’t live the Overboard Life without accountability and encouragement. We need people close to us who know us, who are willing to call us out when we’re acting like jerks, challenge us to grow in our faith, who love us even when we fail miserably and who are on the same journey and in need of the same kind of friendship. I’m thankful TP was there for me in Dorm 230, along with all the other guys in that place. And I’m thankful for Andy and Danny, and others who have come along side me today with the same tenacity and personal desires for growth.
Do you have people speaking into your life? Are you being held accountable by anyone today? Are you holding others accountable to the life they desire to live? Let’s run this race together and help each other grow to be the people God wants us to be, so we can do what God wants us to do!
22 down, 18 to go.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!