Maddison Cohoon has a hard time remembering when sport wasn’t part of her life. She played basketball from age four until she was in Grade 12 and also took up rugby along the way in Grade 9. As a high school rugby player, she represented Team Ontario and Team Canada before graduating and joining the varsity team at a public university. After deciding to pursue her teaching degree at Redeemer and returning to basketball, she realized that her athletic career, successful as it was, had been missing a vital element.
At Redeemer, our faith is woven into everything. There’s a distinct aspect of fulfilling our calling and being agents of positive change in all parts of our lives.
“I’d grown academically and athletically without a doubt, but the spiritual side was neglected,” she says. “At Redeemer, our faith is woven into everything. There’s a distinct aspect of fulfilling our calling and being agents of positive change in all parts of our lives. I’d also never been on a team that prayed before every practice or did a devotional before every game.”
Matthew Walraven, a third-year student-athlete who transferred to Redeemer after his first year elsewhere, echoes Cohoon’s sentiments. In fact, his biggest reason for choosing Redeemer was to forge his identity outside of that of an accomplished soccer player.
“I initially thought playing at my previous university would be a cool thing to tell my friends since it’s a pretty big soccer school,” he explains. “Because of that, I just enrolled in psychology without really thinking twice about it. I quickly found that [psychology] isn’t what I’m passionate about and that I didn’t want to pursue soccer alone for my whole university career. I decided to look into the religion and theology program at Redeemer and was pretty excited to see that I could play soccer here as well.”
Now that he’s more engaged in learning both on and off the field, Walraven appreciates the classroom dialogue that happens within a distinctly Christian environment.
“Studying with a professor who has a Christian background and tries to approach every subject with that in mind is definitely different from what I experienced before. Even being able to speak out of my worldview and implement it into my answers in class has been a big change. You’re able to hold your worldview at a secular university, but the subjects aren’t taught from it.”
Both students have spent considerable time thinking about how their personal faith shapes them as students and athletes. For Cohoon, who is in the last year of her teaching degree, this has been particularly significant as of late.
I started out just wanting to play soccer, and now I see it as an opportunity to bring glory to Christ instead of myself.
“Knowing this is my last year of being identified as an athlete is hitting me hard,” she says. “My identity has always been attached to sports, and I think that’s problematic. Moving forward, it’s important for me to remember that it’s not the roles I take on that make me who I am but how I take on those roles knowing that my faith is my foundation.”
“I started out just wanting to play soccer, and now I see it as an opportunity to bring glory to Christ instead of myself,” says Walraven. “As a student, my faith pushes me to realize that everything I learn is an opportunity to further the Kingdom.”
Given the tremendous growth they’ve experienced, Cohoon and Walraven look forward to bringing all that Redeemer has given them into their respective futures.
“The connections I’ve made with my friends, professors and coaches will impact where my life goes after graduation,” says Walraven. “I plan to stay in touch with my friends and reach out to the mentors who’ve made an impact on me.”
“I know that I’ll be part of the Redeemer community forever,” says Cohoon. “I’ll have my teammates and coaches as my forever family, my classmates to support and guide me as I pursue my calling and my professors to offer their words of wisdom.”