By Ronald Hanaki
Last season, junior midfielder Karisa Turner helped guide ESU Field Hockey to the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Tournament. The semifinals were held at Bellarmine University in Kentucky.
“Kentucky was great. It was great to go and fly down there on a plane,” said Turner.
“Bellarmine was a nice university, and the hotel that we stayed at was gorgeous,” stated Turner. “We got to visit Churchill Downs, and it was amazing.”
“The mayor came to speak with us along with Kelsi Worrell,” said Turner. Worrell is an Olympic athlete who swims for Team USA.
“She was a very good speaker,” said Turner. “She talked about her faith and how she felt blessed to be swimming.”
Like Worrell, Turner’s religious faith and her relationship with God are driving forces in her life.
“I asked Jesus into my heart at age four, but it wasn’t until junior or senior year of high school that I redirected my relationship with Him and asked Him into my heart again,” stated Turner.
In high school, Turner was a three-sport star in field hockey, softball and swimming, but she confessed to having ups and downs.
“I struggled with anxiety and depression in high school, but my faith has helped me,” said Turner.
“Life is just 10 times better with Jesus,” said Turner. “With Him, it’s so positive.”
Turner let her faith steer her when it came time to choose a college.
“I felt that the Lord was telling me to go to ESU and be a light on campus,” said Turner. Turner said that her first year was tough, and she even questioned why she came to ESU. But she got involved with ESU Christian Fellowship after her freshman year.
“It is an amazing organization,” stated Turner.
“I knew that Christianity was not a religion, but a relationship with Jesus Christ. A lot of people don’t understand that,” stated Turner.
“I took ownership of my faith at ESU, and my relationship with Him has only grown since,” said Turner.
“I really want college students to understand and grow in their faith and share in the Gospel of Jesus,” said Turner.
Turner has become an esteemed leader on campus and now runs a Bible study for athletes.
“A student-athlete’s world is so crazy, so coming in and hearing the good news of Jesus Christ and talking about it is important,” said Turner.
Sandy Miller is the Head Coach of ESU Field Hockey.
“Karisa comes from a coaching family,” stated Miller. “She is a nice young lady who is very dedicated.”
“She really values friendship and dedication and respect for one another,” said Miller.
“She has taken a leadership role and leads us in the team prayer before our games,” said Miller. “She came to us with that discipline, and those things are important to us.”
Each year, ESU Field Hockey reads an inspirational book in preparation for the upcoming season. In the past, the team has read Jon Gordon’s “The Energy Bus” and “The Hard Hat: 21 Ways to Be a Great Teammate.”
“I love those books,” said Turner. “Jon Gordon goes and speaks at schools, and his words are faith-based.”
“I really want to be a coach, and the Lord has given me the passion to work with athletes and help with their God-given potential,” said Turner.
“I want to teach people to be physically active and eat healthy–as well as have time to coach,” stated Turner.
Turner recently switched her major from health and physical education to early childhood education.
“I don’t know what the Lord has planned for me, but I would love to go back down to Lancaster county,” said Turner. “There are a lot of great school districts and great [field hockey] club teams there.”
“I would try to get a teaching position and coach and see where the Lord directs me,” stated Turner.
But before that, Turner and ESU Field Hockey have big goals for next season.
“My goals would be for our team to come closer together and see some progression with the team dynamics,” said Turner.
“I believe that the Lord has a plan for this team,” said Turner. “If it is in the Lord’s will for us to get another championship, I believe that this team will do it again.”
“Personally, I would like to grow in my leadership and point others to Christ,” stated Turner.
“The Lord has given me the gift,” said Turner. “All glory goes to Him no matter what I accomplish.”
ESU Field Hockey’s Spring Tournament is set for March 25.
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