To the athlete who thrives in those killer early morning workouts because championship goals are pulsating in your veins . . .
The shooting guard who spends hours of overtime on the court because you know this tireless sweat equity is going to pay off when the ball is tipped . . .
The lacrosse attacker who falls into bed exhausted, wakes up sore, but never stops grinding with leadership, positivity, and selfless team play . . .
The softball pitcher who is still wildly in love with the sport that taught you, punished you, and shaped you in profound and life-changing ways . . .
The athlete whose season just got canceled . . .
I’m so sorry. This season meant the world to you—the opportunity to compete with your sisters on the court, on the field, on the ice, on the track, in the swim lanes—and you just saw that opportunity end without much warning.
You didn’t get to battle for the conference title; your hopes for a Cinderella championship run just got shattered; your dreams of cutting down nets or breaking records or sweeping the tourney just punched you in the gut then disappeared in the chaos of the last few days.
Your disappointment is sharp. It might be clawing at the deepest parts of you, because you feel the most alive in that uniform, when it’s game time and you’re doing the thing you’ve invested years and sweat and pulled muscles and torn ACLs and tears and all your hustle into.
But maybe even the deepest disappointment is the loss of the glorious highs and heartbreaking lows you share with your teammates—your sisters. The people who are hustling and sweating and laughing and draining shots and scoring goals and pep talking and running drills next to you. The ones sleeping on the team bus and sitting in the freezing-cold ice baths beside you. The best friends who never stop telling you to keep your head up, who push you to empty the tank, who hype you after the huge win, who lean on you after the crushing loss.
You wanted the chance to leave it all on the court, on the field with your teammates, for your coaches. This was about more than tourney seeds and championship banners and titles; this was about battling together. This was about relationships and memories and the stories you’d tell and the tough lessons you’d learn. This was about looking at each other in the huddle, knowing you had their backs, not just until the buzzer but in the locker room, in class, and any time they needed an assist from a friend.
This mattered. You get to grieve and feel the disappointment, because the grief is real and your normal just disappeared. But now you have a new opportunity to turn to Jesus and empty the tank with your teammates:
You get to learn how to respond when life changes unexpectedly.
When circumstances cut us down at the knees and we want to scream and call foul, we actually can choose what happens next.
We can let the pain take us out. Yeah, it stings, it’s gonna bruise, it smacked us like an unfair cheap shot, and we can hold onto that pain—stare at it, claim it, let it define us, and lose ourselves in what was stolen from us. (Bitterness grows really well here.)
Or we can believe difficult paths lead us to experience God in unforgettable ways, and we can choose to let the real pain carve us into resilient women who see the hope of Jesus in the midst of the hard.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2–4)
That’s when the really good stuff happens—when we enter into the realities of unwanted, unasked-for pain and open our hearts wide to the can’t-get-anywhere-else lessons that come from trials.
It’s not easy, but trials—including unexpected change and canceled plans—are the training ground where our faith, hope, and gratitude muscles develop.
Trials are like those insane drills during a wicked-early morning workout when your body is begging you to quit. It’s where you learn to choose God-centered gratitude when your pain is telling you to cling to self-focused resentment.
Sidelined athletes everywhere, you have the potential to turn some of your deepest disappointments into gospel-proclaiming moments of selfless gratitude.
Something you love got taken away from you, but you can allow the disappointment to remind you that our hope doesn’t live and breathe in sports or championships or competition.
Our hope is in a living and breathing God who loves us, who sees us, and who created us with mind-blowing intentionality; He’s the reason we can sprint and jump and swim and swing a bat in the first place.
Your story didn’t end with this season. You’re not done yet. There’s more for you to do.
Use your voice to do this:
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thess. 5:14–18).
- Share laughter instead of bitterness (Heb. 12:15).
- Spread kindness and understanding instead of anger (Eph. 4:31–32).
- Exercise resilience instead of falling into complacency (James 1:2–3; Rom. 12:12).
- Express big gratitude over and over again (Ps. 107:8–9; Phil. 4:4).
This canceled season might keep stinging. That’s okay; it’s going to feel raw for a while. Gratitude and hope aren’t the bandage you’ll slap over that wound; gratitude and hope are the healing agents that can turn this wound into a story of strength, endurance, and faith in the God who sees.
To the student-athlete whose season was just canceled,
Choose gratitude for your sport, for your team and coaches, the moments you’ve shared, for every huddle, for every game you put on a uniform.
Keep looking for the bright light in the darkness of disappointment. It’s there. It’s called hope. It’ll change you into the kind of athlete who knows the real secret: adversity makes for the very best kind of game time conditions.