From June 2-8, Eastern Michigan University juniors Meghan Richardson and Jackie Swartz embarked on a journey to Fort Collins, Col., to take part in the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Challenge.
The challenge is associated with Athletes In Action, a campus ministry filled with athletes who want to better themselves spiritually.
Students from across the country take part in this ministry.
For the challenge, the participants were split into teams and two captains were assigned to each squad.
Richardson was named as one the captains of her team and discussed what she and her team had to do during the first four days of the challenge.
“From Sunday night when we got here to Wednesday morning, we learned a bunch of principles,” Richardson said. “The principles consisted of an audience of one, which was like who is your motivation and it was God. The next principle was inside game, which was learning all of the truths and who we worshiped.”
The principles were used to help put together a list of truths to use in a game of volleyball.
“Each day after our principle, we did a volleyball lab and used what we learned from that principle,” Richardson said. “One of things I wrote is that I am accepted and worthy because it was the one thing I was struggling with last season during swimming.
I felt like I was not accepted by some of my coaches or teammates. I did not think I was serving my role on the team.”
One day after learning one of the principles, Richardson found out she was nominated as a team captain by her discussion group leader.
“I had no idea that I would be nominated because I thought they would randomly pick them,” Richardson said. “I did not believe it would happen given that I was not named captain of the swim team. Obviously, it was not meant to be because last year I was struggling with swimming and did not make the best decisions. This was the reason why I came to this camp to get my head cleared because I had began to lose my motivation for swimming.”
After being named co-captain, Richardson had to pick her teammates through a draft process.
“What they [group leaders] did was, at the beginning of camp, they took pictures of each of the campers and had a card saying what sport they did,” Richardson said.
The other co-captain on the seven-person team was Missouri University wrestler Austin Roper.
Some of the events they competed in were frisbee, tug of war, basketball, swimming, suicide drills, planking, and the obstacle course.
“It was crazy to see football players out of their element crying in the pool because they did not know how to swim,” Richardson said.
The events went on continuously and Richardson realized at 1:30 one morning that the work was still not done.
“We ended up having to go back inside for worship in the parking lot and could not see at all because I was so exhausted from the day’s events,” Richardson said.
After an hour of worship and taking an exam based on what they learned, Richardson and everyone else got to sleep for a mere two hours before having to get up at 4:30 a.m. for the obstacle course.
The course totaled three and a half miles and it is where she reached her breaking point.
“Right before the track portion of the course, my body could not go anymore,” Richardson said. “I did not eat earlier in the day because my stomach was hurting from the activities the day before. I was drinking a lot, but I was dehydrated from sweating it all out throughout the day.”
Richardson tried to backpedal, but after three steps her body could no longer take any more punishment.
“One of the staff members walked alongside me as I was biting on my shirt wanting to cry, but knowing I could not because I had a whole team counting on me,” Richardson said.
Richardson again could not see and was pulled over to the training table as the trainer attended to her.
“I could not continue, so my teammates carried a person around the track twice because I could no longer go in the obstacle course,” Richardson said.
After participating in kickball and sprint relays, the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. challenge ended, the participants did the run on the mountain which did not count towards the challenge, but was more of a way to gather their thoughts and have the motivation to complete the task.
“The motivation for completing the task was knowing that if I could do everything else, than I can do it [the mountain run],” Richardson said.
Richardson had to carry a 2×4 on her back for the entire walk and saw it as a way to think about how she carried herself as an athlete.
“I sat down after the 20-minute walk ended and it was hard to run up on the hill,” Richardson said. “At the end of the day, it helped make me a better person and a teammate.”
Social Media: Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter: @EasternEchoGeno.
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