“…the joy of the LORD is your stronghold.” – Nehemiah 8:10
With tennis in her bloodlines, Alabama’s Emily Zabor has played the sport since she was a young girl, but it didn’t become an all-encompassing love for her until after her freshman year of college. Now, she has learned to devote her sport to her Savior and, more than ever, the senior captain is giving her all to the team in pursuit of God’s higher calling.
FCA: In what ways has tennis helped transform you?
EZ: I had a really good fall season during my freshman year, so I was pretty confident I’d play in the spring semester. However, I ended up as the only person not in the lineup. That was where the Lord really taught me about who He is. I’ve always been very team-oriented, but I felt like I couldn’t help my team if I wasn’t playing. I decided to change my goal to love and encourage my teammates as much as possible.
That semester defined my career at Alabama; I learned so much about how important the team was and how hungry I was to play. I played in summer tournaments, and then my sophomore year I got to compete. It was the most fun I’ve had. That was the first time I fell in love with tennis.
FCA: How has your faith developed in college?
EZ: I grew up going to church and went to a Christian school, but we didn’t really talk about Jesus in our home. God was always kind of my emergency vehicle; I would go to the Word when things were going wrong, but He wasn’t necessarily a delight.
I had a desire to get involved with FCA in college. Two of the seniors on my team were really involved and brought me along, and I dove into a Bible study with my leader and other freshmen girls. That summer, I went to [Athletes in Action’s] Ultimate Training Camp in Colorado. Through that, God was starting to instill a desire to know Him more and be closer to Him.
FCA: How have you seen yourself grow as a person?
EZ: God has transformed me completely and given me so much confidence in what I’m doing and why I am on this team. It’s changing perspective and trying to see things through His eyes, which is hard sometimes when you’re struggling. I want to celebrate every practice, every workout and every day I have the opportunity to play and be around my team. It’s little things that remind me if I’m working hard—that’s my worship to God because I’m giving it back to Him.
FCA: What are some of the faith-related challenges you face as a student-athlete?
EZ: One of the biggest challenges is time. I have friends who don’t play sports going to Bible studies or small groups. In the spring, we’re traveling through the weekend, so I can never go to church on Sundays. It’s tough to have time around people who will really encourage you and read the Word with you and pray. It’s an effort to make time to spend with the Lord and be intentional.
One of the things I’ve also been praying about is being bold before matches, praying with whoever wants to pray. The Lord’s put me here for a reason, and I have this opportunity to love and be a light.
FCA: What has God been teaching you at Alabama?
EZ: At Alabama they preach it’s all about the process, and it is. It’s been a blast getting to know Him more, sharing with others, and being around people at school. Also, don’t be afraid to really pray for things you would deem impossible, because the Lord has answered some huge things while I’ve been in college that I never would have imagined.
FCA Staff Quote:
“From the day Emily stepped on campus as a freshman, her heart has beat steadily for her teammates to know Christ. Her passion to know Christ, to become like Him and to make Him known permeates her life and sport.”
-Dr. Gary Cramer
FCA Director, University of Alabama
Posted on Mon, April 13, 2015
by Derek Carmical filed under