Seven Liberty Christian seniors signed on the “dotted line” Nov. 11 as their dream for playing the sport they love at the college level became a reality.
Many students, parents, and teachers surrounded Kendall Ellig, Sydney Goodson, Hannah Hand, Rebekah Hand, Christian Julius, Ryan Teague, and Givon Washington in the Liberty Commons as their coaches spoke from the microphone about these seniors’ dedication and hard work ethic.
Kendall Ellig will play basketball at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and will pursue a degree in law.
“I love the fact that there is no way I could have accomplished this without being covered in blessing,” she said. “To me, this honor means I am loved and favored by the Lord.”
Kendall said she received most of her motivation from her dad and several of her coaches.
“If they wouldn’t have believed in me, I wouldn’t have believed that I could succeed.”
In addition to being named All-District, All-State, and a team captain for Liberty’s state championship girls basketball team, Kendall has also been a Middle School Mission Retreat leader and traveled to El Salvador, Panama, and the Dominican Republic on mission trips with Liberty.
She said Liberty has taught her how to handle stress, multitask, and find joy on hard days.
She added, “I love basketball because it has taught me so much about life.”
Sydney Goodson will play basketball for Arizona State University in Phoenix, Ariz., and plans to become a coach and major in both psychology and communications.
She said, “I don’t see today as an honor but as an opportunity that God has given me as a platform to make His name great and bigger. It is such an incredible blessing and privilege to get to serve God in a new place and with new people.”
Sydney said that she fell in love with basketball around the 6th grade.
“I was pretty bad at first, but I decided to put my mind to it,” she said. “God gave me a passion and determination to get to where I am today and ultimately use my gifts to glorify Him.”
As senior class president, finalist for Christian Athlete of the Year, recipient of the Perseverance Award, and National Honor Society member, Sydney has traveled with Liberty to El Salvador and the Dominican Republic on mission trips.
She added, “I also plan on playing in the NCAA Women’s Final Four at some point in my collegiate career.”
Hannah Hand will play basketball with her twin sister Rebekah at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. She will pursue a degree in elementary education.
“I am so thankful for the opportunity to play at the next level,” she said. “It means so much to me because of all of the support I have had along the way. I am so blessed that God guided me to this school.”
Hannah said the reason she loves basketball is because it is a team sport.
“If the game is played selfishly among teammates then the team will not succeed,” she said. “Being a team player has also helped me in my daily life.
In addition to being named First Team All-State and a state qualifier in track, Hannah is also a member of National Honor Society and Spanish Club, as well as a participant in Liberty’s Spring Break mission trip to Panama and a Spiritual Life intern at school.
Rebekah Hand will also play basketball at Marist and will seek a pre-med degree.
She said, “I feel incredibly blessed and thankful to everyone who has supported me over the years.”
Rebekah said she has been playing basketball for as long as she can remember.
“Hours and hours of practice are fun for me because I am surrounded by teammates striving for the same goal,” she said.
In addition to being named an MVP, First Team All-State, and a state champion in track and basketball, Rebekah is also a member of National Honor Society and Spanish Club, as well as a participant in Liberty’s Spring Break mission trip to Panama. She and her sister, Hannah, are also active members at the Village Church.
She said Liberty academics and athletics have not only prepared her for college classes and sports but also prepared her spiritually.
“Whether it is winning games or making good grades – not matter what – all the glory goes to God,” she said. “My teachers and coaches have poured encouragement and love into us, and prepared us so well for the next level.
“It is amazing how our teachers and coaches genuinely care about us and our future – I am so blessed by them!”
Christian Julius will play baseball at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., and will pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.
“This achievement means the world to me because I have been dreaming about this moment since I was a little boy,” he said. “It feels like all my childhood dreams are coming true.”
Christian describes baseball as a sport where players fail 70 percent of the time yet can still be successful.
“I have had to be extremely persistent and work hard every day,” he said. “I never lost my love for the game.”
Christian has been named MVP, Second Team All-State, and First Team All-District, as well as a member of the state academic team. He is also president of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and member of National Honor Society.
“Academically, Liberty is a very challenging school compared to any previous school I have attended,” he said. “Athletically, I have worked harder than I ever have and was pushed by my amazing coaches and family to achieve my goals.”
Ryan Teague will run track at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., and major in audio engineering.
“For me, this honor is another opportunity to work hard and become my best,” he said. “Track is a sport I love to do.”
Ryan is a member of National Honor Society and German Club.
He added, “Academically and athletically, Liberty has always pushed me to the point where I never thought I could go.”
Givon Washington will run track at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., and plans to pursue a degree in business.
“This honor gives me the ability to represent Christ and my family while running for the school I love,” he said.
Givon said he did not take track that seriously until the end of his junior season.
“I realized I had the potential to pay for some of my college tuition by running,” he said. “It also provides me the ability to compete, and I look forward to it.”
Givon is a member of National Honor Society and has been a participant on a Liberty mission trip to Panama.
“Liberty has pushed me to my limit both physically and mentally,” he said. “Because of that, I believe I am ready to take my next step in life.”