Kourtney Hoefler, a junior biology major from Battle Creek, Neb., played sports all throughout high school. She had no intention of coming to BJU because there were no intercollegiate sports. She was headed to a different school to play volleyball, but God had other plans.
Through a series of events orchestrated by God, Hoefler was led to BJU. “It was not my first choice, because there were no intercollegiate sports — a big deal for me,” she said, “but looking back, I’m thankful for that decision to bring me here. It’s cool seeing that when you give a desire like that to God, He still blesses you.”
BJU adopted intercollegiate sports in 2012, and God’s plan for Hoefler became evident. She trained over the summer for the first basketball season. The Bruins finished with a 10-16 record, and Hoefler knew what she had to work on for the next season. “I focused a lot on getting stronger and being able to finish,” she said. “It was a lot different training because I played a year this past year, so I knew what needed to change and what my weaknesses were.”
One year later, her improvements are certainly evident. The Bruins are 18-8 after recently defeating the Warren Wilson College Owls at home but falling to Southern Wesleyan on the road.
Home games give a huge advantage for the Bruins, Hoefler said. “I like home games better because of our home crowd. It makes a huge difference.” But getting mentally focused at a home game can be difficult for the Bruins team. “Many girls rush from class ten minutes before warm-ups. We focus on being really loud with our warm-up routine,” Hoefler said. “It gets us excited and in the zone. Then we go in for our team meeting.” Before each game, Coach Mike LeViere recaps scouting reports and gives a pep talk.
This last game, the Bruins followed through on the momentum generated in warm-ups and led 30-22 at halftime.
For the halftime break, Hoefler said, “Coach always challenges us with something to get better for the next half, like taking the outside shot because the percentages are in our favor.”
The Bruins improved in the second half and shut down the Owls, winning 58-44. Sophomore Kendra Jeffcott led scorers with 12 points.
At the end of each home game, the Bruins pray with the other school on the court. “We have a good vision for the purpose of sports and the ministry it is,” Hoefler said. “When we pray, we try to pull in things about the Gospel or say something to make [the other team] curious and explain why we are what we are and why we live the way we live.”
Postgame in the locker room, Coach LeViere gives the Bruins a rundown of stats and covers the team’s improvements for the game. Many times the Bruins team then eats with the opposing team. “It’s cool that with schools who are rivals, we can still have fellowship with them afterwards,” Hoefler said.
The Bruins will play at home for the last time this season on Feb. 24 against Tennessee Temple.