By C.L. Sheppard
Rodd Sawatzky encouraged the athletes competing in this week’s Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) National Men’s Volleyball championships to listen to the voices inside their heads - especially when facing adversity.
Sawatzky, a graduate and one-time varsity athlete at Briercrest College was the keynote speaker at the championships banquet Wednesday evening.
He spoke to the athletes and coaches about three people who overcame huge adversity in their lives and went on to be world champions. They saw themselves as athletes and champions when others saw them as “cripples” and quitters. But in each case, they stuck to their vision of what they could be and worked hard to become that person.
Sawatzky said people see things through their own perspectives, based on who they are.
“We see things not the way they are, but the way we are,” he said.
But when we face adversity, we have to change how we look at things.
“When adversity comes you should see it as an opportunity to get better, but you also have to see reality,” he said.
When facing adversity, he recommends you change how you think so that you see things better than they are. And, he said, people need to hear differently when facing adversity. Rather than listening to the voices pointing out the bad things, listen for the voices that focus on the positive and encourage you to not quit.
Sawatzky is the chaplain for the Calgary Flames, Calgary Stampeders and Calgary Roughnecks and he spends most of his life with professional athletes. He said the one thing that comes through when they discuss times of adversity in their lives is a person who stood behind them and encouraged them not to give up.
“That is the message everyone needs to hear when faced with adversity. They need to know tomorrow will be brighter.”
He recently counselled a young couple who lost their child. He told them to listen for God telling them not to quit, to keep going.
“We need to know someone is whispering, and if you listen, it can turn things around. Don’t quit, keep going,” Sawatzky told the audience.
He also reminded them they could be the voice in someone else’s head. They could be the one telling a teammate not to quit but to keep going.