Coming from an athletic background, Elle Alexander’s passion for God and sports has driven her to achieve a leadership role on and off campus
By Tien Thai, Guest Writer
Junior Elle Alexander’s passion for sports, people and God has led to her earning a leadership role at APU and within NCAA athletics. She is one of the team leaders on APU’s track and field team, which comes from her athletic family background and God’s calling on her life.
“I have done sports my whole life, my parents were both basketball coaches growing up, so basketball was kind of my main sport growing up. I started track in sixth grade, and because I was tall and had some strengths, I did very well at a young age. So I just stuck around with it until my junior year, when I could actually see myself going somewhere with it,” Alexander said. “I started doing lessons, doing discus my junior year, and from there, I got serious about it. I feel like God has specifically designed me to be a thrower in my life, so I’m okay with that.”
In addition to her role as an athlete, Alexander is also a member on the executive board of the student athlete advisory committee, which led her to her leadership position in the Apple Institution Conference.
“I am on the student athletic advisory committee, and as part of that, April Hoy [APU’s Associate Athletics Director and Head Athletic Trainer] asked us to go on this conference. I jumped on it right away, because I knew it would be a cool opportunity,” Alexander said.
From this conference, Alexander has been able to learn about the seriousness of drugs, alcohol and substance abuse on college campuses, especially among athletes. She now participates in the Apple Conference annually.
Furthermore, Alexander is also a part of the NCAA Student Athlete Leadership Forum, where she is trained to develop herself as a leader, and to inspire and encourage other athletes on her team.
“I went to the NCAA leadership development training, which was a four day conference with people from Division III, Division II, Division I. We were split up into groups with people from all over the country. They taught us different things, like emotional intelligence, determining our core values, learning how to best use our strengths, talking about diversity, managing conflicts and communicating wisely; but even more than that, the NCAA has so many amazing opportunities for their athletes,” Alexander said. “They really want to see their athletes thrive outside of the core, outside of their own athletic teams. So they provide different seminars about how to apply everything that you have learned coming back to school, or seminars about career development. It is just really encouraging to know that NCAA is cheering me on and other athletes on.”
Aside from educating herself and others about the danger of substance abuse, Alexander also develops her leadership skills through a service project she did at the Apple Conference.
“I think it would be so cool if we could get all of the athletes and athletic departments together to just do one service project, because we have so many resources and hands to serve our community. One thing that I learned was that I should own my leadership style and be intentional about it. At the same time I need to know how to best lead my teammates. So on my track team right now, I really have to get to know them and be a good example for them,” Alexander said.
Alexander also has a heart for sharing the Gospel and doing many service projects to support the community around her. She has done these through her involvement with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and her executive position on the student athlete advisory committee. She works with FCA every Monday and Tuesday night at different high schools and at APU.
“I am really passionate about how sports can be an avenue of sharing the Gospel. Right now I’m involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes by interning with them in the San Gabriel Valley,” Alexander said.
Alexander acknowledged that sharing the Gospel through her sport is her desire to pursue outside of school as well, even once she graduated from APU. She shared her hope to help others develop as leaders through their athletic departments, at schools she doesn’t even know yet. These are the goals Alexander is aiming towards.
Some of her responsibilities as being on the executive board for the student athletic advisory committee, which are presenting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, hosting events such as King and Queen of the Zu, and doing some service projects, particularly a canned food drive this month.
“A lot of what we do is to try to bridge the gap between athletes and students, and also athletes and faculty members. It is just a really cool opportunity, because it shows that athletes really do have a voice, not only in their teams, but also in the athletic program,” Alexander said.
Alexander demonstrated all of the supports, advantages, and fellowship she has received from track and field through her time at APU, especially when she first came on as a freshman.
“My freshman year was rough coming in, because I did not know anyone. I came from a community where I had known a lot of people, but honestly when I came here, I had 40 brothers and sisters because of the track team, and that is something you cannot really compare to anything else,” Alexander said.
Alexander asserted that her brothers and sisters in track and field helped her conquer her freshman year. They are the people she loves to see everyday, because they are always cheering each other on.
Alexander affirmed how she was driven to choose APU to pursue both higher education and track and field, which was through her heart for God, her love for Southern California, and the ability to train all year around. After all, Alexander acknowledged that the real reason for getting into sports was her ambition to worship God through that platform.
“The only reason I do this is because I knew it is the avenue for me to worship the Lord. Everything I do is to glorify God. I’m going to play sports as much as I can, but being a Christ follower is something I will do consistently throughout my life,” Alexander said.
Senior Jacky Chastler, one of Alexander’s track and field teammates, expressed what it means to have an unconditionally loving and humble teammate such as Alexander.
Chastler also shared Alexander’s positive leadership skill by explaining Alexander’s acceptance to the leadership forum.
“Elle was chosen to go on the leadership forum because she is a true example of what a leader is, her position of representing APU at the forum was the perfect choice,” Chastler said.
Alexander’s throwing coach Nate Meckes described Alexander’s heart and passion as creating positive influence on others and thriving to establish APU’s “God First” community.
“Elle is someone that you are friends with five minutes after you meet her. She is someone who wants to make an impact on the people and the community around her. She is constantly trying to make APU, and the people around her, into a ‘God First’ place and a ‘God First’ people,” Meckes said.
Alexander will be putting her leadership into practice as the track and field team will begin their season on Jan. 19 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.