Finding A Balance
Andrew Schnell entered the University of Calgary like many young athletes – trying to balance life, sport and the pressures that come with both. Coming from a year of solely playing squash with the Canadian National Team, Schnell recalls it being a struggle. “I came to a place where my whole identity was based on my performance. Things fell out of perspective, I stopped enjoying the sport and I was putting so much pressure on myself.” Schnell was looking for a change, which came after getting involved with Athletes in Action at the University of Calgary and encountering the truth about God’s unconditional love for him.
“God has always been evident and always been present, but I saw Him as a ruler that instilled laws that I was to obey. Through AIA I had an increased desire to read the Bible and then I came to the crisp realization that He is not an enforcer of rules but of love.” Through his involvement with AIA, Andrew learned what it meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus. ”AIA has been a huge part of my university & athletic career, and to coming to have a personal relationship with God.”
With his identity rooted firmly in his relationship with Jesus, Schnell competed at the Pan Am Games this summer and brought home a gold and silver medal for his country. “Because I know He created me in His image and that he loves me regardless of my success or failures, it brings me contentment with who I am as a person and an increased focus on the process and not just the outcome. He is there regardless of wins or losses.”
Schnell begins this year at the U of C with an excitement to continue to grow in his faith and inspire others to experience the hope and freedom found in Jesus. He is grateful for the Christian community that he has found in university – a season where one’s values, beliefs, and priorities are often forged. “We become who we surround ourselves with” says Schnell, “to surround myself with a group of people who encourage me to read my Bible and live out my faith and has been healthy as a person not just an athlete.”
When Schnell is not in class, on the squash court or leading an AIA small group, he is serving at a nearby first nations reserve. “Inspired by Sport” as they call it, is an initiative started by Schnell where university athletes serve in a First Nations community by fostering relationships through sport. What started out as a desire to use their platform and influence as athletes to share God’s love, has turned into an endeavor that has deeply impacted many of these men and women.
Experiencing victory beyond competition for Andrew means living for the creator of the universe every day. “ I am proud of my Pan Am medals but living for Jesus – that’s true victory for me.”
Athletes in Action is committed to helping athletes like Andrew discover a personal relationship with Jesus and inspire others to live passionately for God – on and off the court. Who are you inspiring today? #goaia #victorybeyondcompetition #AIAnPANAM #AIAnUofC
Pictures for this article where taken by Paige Stewart.