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“Pursue growth, not perfection.”

Captain of the women’s volleyball team, Leah Grady, was awarded the Dr. Vickie Grooms Denny Award, which is given annually to one volleyball player within the NCCAA member institutions who demonstrates outstanding character on and off the court. Director of Calvary’s Athletic Department, Jeannette Regier, states: “Leah has pursued leadership, athletic, academic, and spiritual goals as others have poured into her life. This award allows us to celebrate with her what God has done in and through her.”

When Josh Johnson, head coach of Calvary’s women’s volleyball team, was asked about his thoughts on his experience with Leah, he said a particular experience came to mind. An early “battle” he fought with her was over missing practices and matches in September each year: “Every coach has to set a standard and her missing these team events ran in opposition to the standard I put in place.” Yet, he said that Leah’s reason for missing the practices was a beautiful one: “She wanted to miss these events so she could be at a kid’s club outreach and discipleship event in her hometown. The Lord allowed her to go back most years (sometimes against my will) and yet, when I filled out the nomination form for the Dr. Vickie Grooms Denny award, her commitment to that club was near the top of the list for why she should be chosen. Leah loved that ministry because she loved the children, and that was beautiful to witness.” He added, “Leah has led our team for two years now as captain. Even during her sophomore year, she was one of our leaders. She has led our girls to committing scripture to memory, shown up in a timely manner to 6 a.m. workouts on a weekly basis, and has even led small group devotions in the dorms her junior and senior year.”

When asked to reflect on her own growth, Leah stated that as a freshman she only cared about what was best for herself, and after tearing her ACL, considered giving up volleyball completely. Yet, after 10 months of intense physical therapy and much encouragement from her previous coach, Tressa Barnes, Leah decided to play another year: “My sophomore year was a challenging year, coming back from my ACL injury, trying to be present, loving the girls on my team well, and not getting inside my head.” She opened up about a particular experience that helped change her perspective: “There was a challenging practice when Coach Josh called me into his office. He read Ephesians 1 and talked me through where my identity in Christ is truly found. I sat there sobbing, wanting so desperately to receive that truth. That conversation and countless others began a process of growth in my life (not perfection). Through the good moments and the bad, Coach Josh didn’t give up on me and instead pointed me to the truth.” She states: “Knowing that Coach Josh wouldn’t give up on me helped me receive the truth that God is also for me and is never giving up on me.”

When receiving the award, Leah stated she was incredibly humbled and wished her team had been around her because they had also been through her journey: “All I could think was ‘But God’! He has done so much work in my life, and He is the reason I was able to receive the Dr. Vickie Grooms Denny award! All glory goes to Him! I have learned so many lessons through my experience; to receive help from God and my community, to accept failure as an opportunity to learn, and to pursue growth, not perfection.”