By Abby Witt, Sports Writer
After seven years of coaching the Asbury University Eagles, a weekend tournament at Montreat College became a mile marker that will not soon be forgotten in Asbury’s athletic department. Head coach of the women’s volleyball team, JP Rader, earned his 200th career victory with Team AU. Any great milestone such as the one Coach Rader earned is one to be celebrated and remembered, and yet it is easy to ee that there is much more to him and his team than the number of wins under their belt at the end of the day.
JP Rader’s philosophy is that volleyball is only a part of what the girls on his team have ahead of them, and he cares more that the girls strive to be good, Christ-centered people. “I want the girls to understand excellence, but also volleyball was about holistic growth in their life,” said Coach Rader. He emphasized his desire for his team to grow in multiple areas of their lives that are not just exclusive to athletics.
Sophomore Hannah Truax, a strong supporter of what Coach Rader does for his team not just as a coach, but to help them grow as individuals, said “Coach can be intensebecause he puts everything out there, but there is a side to him that’s very kind and someone you can look to like family,” said Truax. “His impression comes across as tough, but he genuinely cares about you, your family and who are. It’s more than volleyball.”
Coach Rader was very humble when discussing the 200th win, giving all the credit to every player and coach he’s worked with over his seven years at Asbury. “It’s certainly not an individual thing at all. It’s all about the teams and talent and cohesion we’ve had well,” said Coach Rader.
“He didn’t even tell us beforehand,” said Truax. “After the game had ended he said, ‘Oh by the way that was my 200th win.’ We all freaked out and were so happy for him. It really made us all think about everyone that has come through to make this happen.”
Hannah talked more about the role Coach Rader has played in her becoming a better Christian, “It’s been his biggest influence on me. Not to just be a Christian but to actually live it out.”
Coach Rader has been influenced very similarly by his players. “To be someone in their fifties and see twenty-year-olds have that commitment to Christ is reassuring to know the generations coming up behind has people who are sold out to Christ and will keep Asbury’s legacy alive,” said Coach Rader.
Coach Rader has no plans of leaving anytime soon. When asked what he wanted his legacy to be at Asbury, he chuckled and said, “I haven’t even thought about leaving, this has just been such a great experience so far. But I want each of my players to grow holistically over their four years. It’s something I say at the beginning of the recruiting process, and it’s something I can honestly say I have seen from our graduates.”