For some athletes, the sport they play becomes the one thing for which they are known. For Michelle Waber, master of disability studies student, playing outside hitter on the women’s volleyball team has allowed her the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures while growing closer to God.
Waber has been playing volleyball for 10 years and has had the opportunity to play the game she loves in places across the nation and at multiple universities.
“I played at Hawaii Pacific University, San Diego State University and now California Baptist University,” Waber said. “I wouldn’t have gone to all these places if it wasn’t for volleyball.”
Waber’s relationship with God has grown over the years and she has come to the realization and understanding that life is meaningless without a relationship with him.
“I always grew up in a Christian home,” Waber said. “We didn’t actually start going to church until middle school, and only my dad and I would go at first.”
It is now a tradition for Waber and her family to go to church every Saturday night and then eat dinner together.
Volleyball has aided Waber in her spiritual growth, and she said her relationship with God has grown immensely in the past three years. Waber said being close to God has helped her always be thankful and stay humble both on and off the court.
“It also brings me comfort, courage and stability because even if things are not going well on the court, I know that I am not playing for my own personal glorification but for the glory of God, who will always love me the same, whether I am the best or the worst one out there,” Waber said. “No matter what happens, I know that God is with me.”
Having teammates and family with similar beliefs is helpful for Waber, as her environment is always a positive one.
Her mother, Suzanne Waber, said Michelle has always found her place within the team every time she has moved to a new university.
“Looking back, I believe it helped her,” Suzanne Waber said. “She has risen to the challenge each time, becoming a stronger, more confident player, and this year, as the only senior, a leader. With each move, she has relied on her faith as a Christian that she will end up where she needed to be and grown because of it. CBU is the perfect ending.”
Athletics had been pursuing Waber since she was in high school, but she said she wanted to go to a bigger school. When Waber finally made the decision to attend CBU for graduate school, everything simply fell into place within a couple of weeks and she happily started her new journey.
“When you are an athlete, it’s really easy for your sport to define you,” Michelle said. “It’s easy to feel like that’s who you are, ‘I’m a volleyball player.’ When you have God that’s not who you are. You play for God, not yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re great or terrible.”