My name is Stanford Edward Stabbert. I was adopted into a household at the age of three. However, even with some of the greatest role models around me, my faith didn’t become my own until my first year at The Master’s University.
I knew a lot of things needed to change in my life; mainly, I needed to change my focus. See, I got caught up in the “Christian walk,” thinking that everything was okay because I was acting the way I was supposed to act. In truth, I was skating by, and on very thin ice. My heart wasn’t in the right place. Soccer was one of my biggest idols. I played wherever and whenever I could—rain or shine, Saturday and Sunday. If I had to choose between soccer and going to church, I always chose soccer.
I started higher education at a community college back home in Washington, and when I transferred to The Master’s University to study and play, my soccer experience was radically shaken. I wasn’t eligible to play for the first few weeks of the season, and that was a blessing. It was divine intervention for God to put Jim Rickard, TMU’s men’s soccer coach, in my life.
The focus here is different.
It is all about our daily walk with Christ on and off the field, while other teams merely focused on winning. The people on the team are genuine and true, and Coach is a role model.
Coach Rickard is truly the foundation our team is built upon. Having been a player at Master’s himself, he embodies all he learned from past coaches. He is one of the greatest friends you could ask for, both on and off the field.
Players that came decades before me stay in contact with him and have since sent their own kids to play under him. I saw that influence in my own life. Coach didn’t start me every game, like I would have wanted him to my first year, but through that I found a new role both on and off the bench, that of a servant leader. Because of his example, I wanted to encourage as many guys as I could, and many of them became brothers who I will have long after my soccer career is over. Playing soccer at Master’s was an experience for which I’ll never be able to express enough gratitude.
Coach has created a legacy that started before I was on the team and will continue on long after me. He holds his players to a high standard.
I also needed focus when I wasn’t on the field. I’ve always been easily distracted, mostly by friends and food. I’ve never hated school, but I’ve never loved it. I’m a huge fan of canceled classes, half days, power outages, etc.—anything to get me more time to eat and hang. But, during my time here I’ve learned to love school through the classes where my own personal vulnerabilities showed. My mom passed away not too long ago, and that semester I was taking Poetry & Poetics. Prof. Esther Chua showed me I could express my emotion through that medium, when nothing else could communicate the pain.
Dr. Brian Morley taught me that, no matter how hard I studied or tried, there is always going to be someone smarter than me, and that education is not all about intelligence. Dr. Morley is a kind genius who meets his students at their level. Prof. Greg Gifford taught me about humility and that maybe, just maybe, the mistakes I’ve made are a reflection of who I am on the inside. He pushed me to grow through reflecting the God I claimed to serve. Prof. Bob Dickson taught me to laugh at myself by looking back on the past, from failed middle school crushes to ridiculous comic book characters I liked. And I cannot forget to mention Dr. Daniel Wong, who spends hours each day ceaselessly praying and caring for students. This dedication I’ve seen is unmatched by most. I wish I could name every teacher I’ve had here and give them the praise they deserve. Unfortunately, this memoir is short and I have one more group to cover.
This final acknowledgement is dedicated to those outside the classroom and off the field, to the people who made my time at Master’s unforgettable. Harry and Karen Walls, thank you for blessing the Master’s campus and coming when you did. Thank you for keeping your doors open for countless meetings and speaking wisdom into my life. Sergio and Siona, my big brothers, you two called me out when I needed to be checked and made sure to keep my head on straight. But when the time called for it, you guys could be just as goofy. Dr. John Stead, you believed in me academically at a time when I didn’t believe in myself. Thank you for walking with me so I can walk across that graduation stage. To my friends, Zach, AJ, Ryan, Pablo, Brad, Kipp, Wesley, Johnny, Cassy, Anya, Kenzie, and Yazmin, you’ve stayed faithful in our friendships over the years, standing with me through the thick and thin. I love you all more than I could ever express. My time here at Master’s wasn’t perfect.
And if it weren’t for a lot of you, I don’t know where I would be. I guess I’m a good example of an infinite amount of chances with extreme grace.
To my family, I finally did it. To my teachers, thank you. And to my mom, may you rest in peace knowing that your son is being taken care of. Here’s to you, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Revelation 21:3 and Isaiah 40:31.