You don't have to wear a CDS jersey to be a true CDS Lion
We love watching all our students use their God-given abilities on the different fields of competition. While we offer many athletic opportunities at Covenant Day, we have students that are gifted with unique athletic talents and passions. Let's take a look at a few of our athletes that have taken their gifts off-campus.
“When I was little, my mom saw me flipping all around the house, and she figured if she didn’t put me in a sport then I was going to hurt myself. So, she decided to put me in gymnastics so that I could learn how to do flips in a safe environment instead of getting hurt,” laughs Jennifer.
Since she was six years old, Jennifer has honed her natural flipping skills to become a winning gymnast with a promising college gymnastics career ahead of her.
“Getting offered a spot for a college gymnastics team was the best moment of my life!”
On March 6, 2021, Jennifer accepted a verbal offer to join the Oregon State University gymnastics team. She officially signed to join the team on November 10, 2021.
“I remember sitting there, and I absolutely loved the coaches. I’d been stalking the team on Instagram, and I just loved everything about their program. They put a big emphasis on family and building character. I would have just committed on the spot but my mom had to stop me and be like, “No, we need to think this through. You’re going to go visit first, then you can make your decision.”
A campus visit to Oregon State quickly confirmed Jennifer’s hopes about the school and the team. Especially coming from supportive environments like her gym Southeastern Gymnastics in Weddington and Covenant Day, she wanted to find a program that would not only develop her as an athlete but also develop her as a person. That’s what she found at Oregon State.
“I like the team atmosphere. It is an individual competition and you do have to work on your own skills at your own pace, but at the same time you have a really good support group of girls behind you that are there to cheer you on and have your back.”
Jennifer was recruited for all four gymnastics events (bars, vault, beam, and floor), but her coaches think she will really shine on vault and bars. “I agree with that,” smiles Jennifer. She’s also excited to become a teammate of Jade Carey, the 2020 Olympic gold medalist on floor. (What a teammate to have!)
While she’s eager to step into this next season of life, Jennifer realizes there is a lot that she is taking with her from CDS.
“Being at CDS has grown my character, and it’s grown my faith in God."
Jennifer can already see the impact CDS has made in her life. "I’ve learned way more about myself than I ever thought I would have. The teachers are really good at engaging in hard conversations. In Mr. Dennison’s class this year, I’ve had to figure out what I believe. I’m starting to realize that when you go off to college you really need to know what you believe. If you don’t, then you are going to be pushed around because you don’t have a strong foundation. And CDS has taught me what community feels like. When I go off to Oregon, I want to be intentional because what I’ve found here at CDS is people make an effort to say "hi" in the halls and check on you and see how you are doing. That has been something that’s really impacted me, especially from the teachers too. So going into college I want to look out for other people too, and I’m excited to reciprocate what I’ve been shown here.”
“When I was about 8 or 9 years old my friend had a party at the rink. I just loved the feeling of being on the ice and skating. It didn’t feel hard for me. For me, I can feel stress about school or about life, but I can go out on the ice and forget everything but skating.”
Isabelle is a figure skater. She competes in solo competitive skating, synchronized skating, and ice dance. She has no favorites. She just loves being on the ice.
Every day she practices or trains before and after school, with a 4:00 am wake-up call, as well as practicing on Saturday. Though she does take a Sabbath break, it’s an intense schedule that Isabelle says has developed her in meaningful ways.
“You have to be organized and you have to push yourself.
Sometimes you get to a point where you’re like, ‘I don’t want to do this jump’ or ‘I don’t want to practice’ and you just have to push through.”
These are also traits that CDS has poured into her.
“Everyone works so hard here, and I love that about Covenant Day. I get to push myself here in school and outside of school, and there’s a balance. Figure skating can be a toxic culture, and so I feel like here at school everyone is supporting each other, and I can bring that into my figure skating world. I have friends in the skating world that are also my competitors but I can also support them in the competition. I can compete and still love them well.”
Next year, Isabelle will join the figure skating and synchronized skating club team at Liberty University and plans to study nursing. She believes the lessons on hard work and organization that she learned at CDS and skating will be the greatest assets she will take with her to college.
“I know I’m going to be at a higher level in college, but I’m ready to push myself.”
“Junior year, the week before volleyball tryouts for Carolinas Junior Volleyball club, I blew my ankle. It was black, purple, huge, like double the size! It was really bad. I pull up to tryouts, and I can barely move.”
Tryouts are always intense, but for Savannah, these tryouts would be life-changing.
For those who don’t know the club volleyball world, these tryouts are massive! Hundreds of athletes are spread over dozens of courts playing their hardest to make it onto one of these coveted teams. Injured or not, you have to compete.
“My beach coach, Shem - he’s one of the biggest supporters in my life as a person and a player - saw me limping around the court trying to set and prove my worth. He took me off the court saying, ‘You don’t need to do this, sit down.’ After talking with him, I decided to take the leap into beach volleyball.”
Savannah had played beach volleyball over the last two summers, but it was never her plan to jump into that world. It’s a different game. In indoor volleyball, there are six players on the court, but for beach volleyball, there are only two players covering a sandy court that’s nearly the same size.
Though Savannah struggled with what she should do, she discovered a real love for the beach volleyball community, the way it draws all kinds of people, and the amazing plays you can pull off.
“You can make the craziest plays in beach,” Savannah laughs.
“Like when you go up and act like you’re going to hit it really hard, but then you just tap it into a gentle roll over the net, and it gives that little poof of sand when the ball drops as both the other players dive for it. That’s a pretty satisfying feeling. Or after an insane hustle play that lasts four or five rallies, and then you just put it away. The relief and excitement of that moment as everyone is watching and cheering, that moment just has something to it. And I think that’s the draw of the sport. It’s incredible.”
Now into her second year of playing beach volleyball, Savannah has traveled throughout the country playing with different partners from across the country, including Florida, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Virginia. She remains grateful for her first teammates and fans here at CDS.
“People at CDS love talking about it. They ask me about it all the time. The teachers are really supportive, especially because they know I have to travel all the time.”
Savannah also loves teaching people to play beach volleyball. “It’s fun to have something new to bring to people. Like when the other girls on the CDS volleyball team and I had an epic battle with the senior boys at Windy Gap,” she laughs, “a leave it all on the court kind of game. Super fun!”
In August, she committed to play beach volleyball at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. It was her first choice for college. On her tour of the school, she felt the Lord was telling her she was called to be there.
“Serving others is the biggest value here. We were just talking about this in Bible class, having a servant's heart and not expecting anything. It’s Christ in your heart and serving others because it’s what we are called to do.”
On November 10, 2021, our amazing off-campus athletes alongside other incredible on-campus athletes were celebrated for the athlete department’s annual Signing Day Recognition. This event is about honoring the hard work of our CDS athletes and rejoicing with them as they commit to play on their college teams.
Interim Athletics Director Daniel Smith attended signing day and reflected, "We are thrilled for these student-athletes who have signed to compete at the collegiate level and excited to see what God has in store for them. We are also proud of each of them as well as all of our student-athletes who use their athletic gifts on a daily basis to represent CDS."