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Titans turn to Jesus: The role of faith in athletic success

“We pray for our teammates and keep God on our side because it helps us as a team,” Bella Kovash said.

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Titans clergy attend a girls volleyball game at Trinity High School.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — At the core of every Trinity Titan athlete is a foundational relationship with Jesus Christ and a faith that can transform hearts and inspire minds. In the world of an athlete, maintaining a healthy, balanced religious life may encourage a positive mental attitude and an atmosphere for athletic achievement.

According to Fr. Grant Dvorak, a chaplain at Trinity High School, students who have a strong relationship with God have a demeanor on and off the court that stands out from the rest. The motive behind why they play has one purpose: to glorify God.

“Faithful students are able to be free,” Dvorak said. They know that they have a loving support system and this (athletic success) does not define who they are. They aren’t so engrossed in competition that they lose themselves.”

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Fr. Grant Dvorak celebrates the Region 7 championship with the Trinity girl's volleyball team.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press

Dvorak was a basketball and golf athlete himself at Saint Mary’s High School in Bismarck and has been an athlete for much of his life. He recalls losing the State championship basketball game his senior year and the heartbreak he felt after the loss.

“Because I was given the faith in my life, that defeat crushed this idol that I made of sports and put it in its proper place,” Dvorak said. God wants me to be happy playing sports but it’s not everything. What defines me is my relationship with God. I’m meant for more than just this life. I’m meant for greatness and eternal happiness.”

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Throughout his schooling, Dvorak was moved by his chaplains to pursue the priesthood and was appointed by Bishop Kagan to serve at Trinity where he has been for three months. In that short time, he has attended over 25 games to support and cheer for student athletes.

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A Titan chant pictured in the high school gym.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press

“The ministry of presence is very prevalent on my mind,” Dvorak said. “The priestly identity for me of being a father is laid out in sports… It matters whether the father is there or not.”

Students at Trinity have the privilege of reciting a prayer before every game with the purpose of asking God for protection, grit in the face of defeat and humility in winning. The Titans call upon Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of sports, and Our Lady of Victory (The Virgin Mary) for their intercession.

“We are not praying that the other team lose, but we are praying …to win the victory of faith,” Dvorak said.

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Faith is at the center of Trinity academics and athletics.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press

“We pray for our teammates and keep God on our side because it helps us as a team,” Bella Kovash, Titans volleyball middle hitter added. “Prayer gives us confidence and a calm feeling.”

Every season athletes battle adversity, personal injury and defeat, that without the presence of faith, can seem isolating and unending. A grounded relationship with God goes deeper than one’s performance.

When faced with setback or loss, Saint Paul says, “Run so as to win in this journey of faith.”

“It’s the same thing in a game,” Dvorak said. “Run so as to win the game. There is victory even in getting back up and resiliency in trying again.”

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The Titans school motto is to awaken greatness by “educating the whole student – mind, body and soul.”

“We try to integrate our faith into everything aspect of our student athlete’s lives,” Brianna Sisson, Titans volleyball coach said. When we think about it on the volleyball court, we are educating the mind, working the body and trying to bring our faith into that. It helps us grow and bond as a team. We have to use our strong faith to be able to trust in each other and trust in God.”

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The Titans pray before every game and throughout the school day.
Amber I. Neate / The Dickinson Press
READ MORE BY AMBER I. NEATE
DICKINSON — It was a bleak home game season opener for the Dickinson Midgets girl’s hockey team Dec. 2. Their heads hung low following a brutal 9-2 loss against West Fargo United. The opening day loss comes as the season starts and memories of last year's difficult 4-16 season are still fresh.

Amber Neate grew up in rural Skull Valley, Arizona. Her passion of covering sports of all types, including personal favorites wrestling, hockey, rodeo and football, began at an early age.

She obtained her Associate of Arts Degree from Yavapai Community College before attending Northern Arizona University for a three-year journalism program. While at NAU, Neate worked as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Lumberjack Newspaper as well as a hockey commentator for KJACK Radio.

Gaining her experience working for a small community paper, The Wickenburg Sun, as a general news and features reporter, her love for sports and a small-town community brings her to Dickinson to cover southwest North Dakota sports.

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