STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 04/24/2013

The Storytellers

by Hilary Sherratt '12

Soccer game
By Hilary Sherrat ’12

A few years ago, Valerie Gin, professor of recreation and leisure studies, invited a group of student athletes to squeeze onto the couches in her office and share their stories: of mistakes, triumphs, failures, confusion and lessons learned across multiple sports. Not only did they resonate with each other’s stories, but the stories sparked the question: “What would I do in that situation?”

Before long Gin’s office wasn’t big enough for all the students clamoring to join the group. And it wasn’t just Gordon athletes who had stories to tell! Gin took some students with her to Athletes in Action camps across the country to record other athletes’ stories. Eventually, they put together a DVD. After
each story, questions are posed to the viewers concerning pervasive attitudes and moral dilemmas in sports—from trash-talking to cheating—providing a new framework for discussion and reflection.

Like news, stories travel, and it wasn’t long before the DVDs were in wide circulation, including at major sports camps. That inspired Gin even further. “Coaches need stories, too,” she said. “That role can feel especially isolated and lonely.” So she and her students began to record coaches’ stories, too.

To reach a wider audience, Gin, her coaching friends and her students created a website——so sportspeople could share their common experiences, learn from each other’s stories, and promote “the value, integrity and love of sport.” Much more than a collection of stories, wired4sport became an online community, where athletes support and encourage each other and celebrate sport.

“It’s easiest to do what others have done, but it’s definitely not as fun,” Gin says. “Innovation is about the freedom to think in a new way, and bring people alongside you in a kind of synergy. It is about doing something creative, something that is invigorating and life giving. I think the truth is, God is innovative, and I was in the right places at the right time. God is creative in who he brings together, and how.”

Hilary Sherratt is a grantwriter at Gordon.