I wanted to share with you the story of one of the athletes that we had the privilege of ministering to in Lake Placid, NY. Her name is Hilary Saucy, and she competes in the winter sport of biathlon: cross-country skiing and shooting. Hear her story in her own words:
“Since a young child, I have always been involved in some sort of organized sport. When I was very young, it was running in fun runs at the races Mom did. As I grew older I was involved in swim team, soccer, and eventually Track and Field and Cross-Country. I also dabbled in whatever other sports I could participate in that weren’t organized—skiing, dodge ball, capture-the-flag, etc. However, my real love wasn’t revealed until I was 13 and my parents introduced a new sport that would eventually become my top pick: Biathlon.
“I remember vividly that Christmas when I was 13 and we got cross-country skis and learned to ski in the backyard. Earlier that year I had been introduced to Biathlon—cross-country skiing and shooting—via the summer version replacing skiing with running. My parents thought it was so cool that they wanted to teach us kids how to ski so we could do the “real” thing. Unfortunately, because of where we lived skiing was hard to find and usually required significant travel to get on decent snow. It was for this reason that I put my focus into running and only dabbled in Biathlon on the side. Then, when I was about 16 something changed; I started to realize that doing extra training on my own outside of my team sports made me a better athlete. I started keeping a training log, and began to reach for higher goals.
“The summer I turned 17 I attended a Biathlon Summer Camp that ultimately changed my life. Just to be eligible to attend the camp I had to commit to significant training beforehand. Once at the camp I quickly realized that Biathlon was something I really wanted to devote my time and effort to. Since I had grown up with a rather extensive athletic background, and was actively involved in running at the time, I figured that running would cross over into skiing. What I found however, was that this was not the case at all. My first winter of racing made me realize where I was and where I wanted to be; the task then, was how to get there.
“The following summer I attended a ski camp and put some extra effort, on top of my running, into ski specific training throughout the summer and fall. Then right before Christmas my life took a dramatic turn down an exciting path. I had always dreamed of living someplace where I could ski every day but never thought it possible given both my financial situation and geographic location. But my dream became a reality when I found a place to stay that would allow me to ski train during the winter.
“What I learned on that trip ultimately changed my life. I discovered my true love for skiing and biathlon as I had opportunity to ski every day. I made many lifetime friends as I learned to live on my own out in the world. For the first time in my life I began to see God work in powerful ways and literally move mountains to allow the unthinkable to happen. I ended up living with a pastor’s family, training with other Christian athletes, and being involved in a wonderful athlete’s bible study that forever changed my outlook on life, but specifically athletics. It was in that bible study that I finally made the connection between sports and faith. All of a sudden, it hit me—despite what I had been told many times, I could be an athlete and honor God at the same time. In fact, I could honor God through my athletics.
“At the conclusion of the winter I went home a changed person. From thenceforward my outlook on athletics, from training to competition, was drastically different. I now purpose to honor God through my training. It has become a regular prayer of mine, ‘LORD, allow me to be a witness to others through my attitude, through my words, and through my actions.’ As I began to dedicate my training to the LORD it was incredible how my attitude towards things, especially failure, changed, and how He began to work through my athletics. It was through this experience that I discovered my true love and where I believed the LORD wants me.
“This past summer, as I began the difficult task of training on my own without teammates or a personal coach, God provided far beyond my expectations. He provided a coach who guided me in training and developed me into a stronger and smarter athlete. He blessed me with good health and a strong body to handle the new level of training I had begun. But ultimately, he assured me through every twist and turn that this is where he wants me. He even changed my attitude from that of opposition to college and living away from home, to that of welcoming the adventure.
“This winter I once again have been able to live my dream of skiing every day, but it wasn’t without many trials. Last year prepared me for the circumstances I would experience this year and it was only through my relationship with Jesus Christ that I was able to survive. God has blessed me with a very special gift and it is my desire to use to to honor Him. Allowing such a talent to get thrown by the wayside would be irrational, but more importantly, using my talent without putting God first is just plain foolish. Therefore, it is my desire to honor Christ through my athletics and be a witness for Him as I embark on a new adventure: college.
Praise God for how He is at work in Hilary’s life! Pray for her to continue to see God at work in and through her life, that she will see many of her friends, teammates and competitors come to faith in Jesus Christ.