St. Paul Lutheran Church, Davenport, Iowa
Senior, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa
Exercise Science major and Luther baseball second baseman

My home congregation is the same church my parents grew up in and got married in. I was baptized and confirmed there. I went to Sunday school after services there for as long as I can remember, and I really got involved in the youth group program there in middle school. I also have been on multiple mission trips with my church to different locations out of state.

I am an active member of St. Paul when I’m home for summers or breaks. I still am very connected with friends I made there before moving to college. The involvement was so important to me because it’s like a second family and gives you another group of friends outside of school and sports. I was able to become close and find a shared passion with kids throughout my area. It was cool to make those relationships as I would compete against a lot of those kids in athletics throughout the years.

I grew up around the church, and faith was always a priority in my life for as long as I can remember. My faith is important to me because it is something I can lean on whenever I want or need it. I can be having a great day or a not-so-great day, and it doesn’t matter because I will always have my faith and can lean on that; I can open my Bible and read the word of God. The reason I think it’s most important to me, and the thing I remind myself of often, is that God is always with me. He has a plan for me and will be with me every step of the way.

After college, I plan to go into the U.S. Air Force and serve for an extended amount of time, making a career out of that.

My most meaningful accomplishment in high school baseball, outside of receiving an Academic All-Conference/District Award and an Academic All-State Award, is that I was able to make it to state my senior year with my younger brother, Barrett, playing and my dad, Jeff, coaching. Barrett was just a freshman at the time and was brought in to close the game for us. That sent our high school to state for the first time in 16 years.

“Being part of the first college game played at the Field of Dreams Movie Site was unbelievable. … To walk out of that corn was something words cannot describe.”

My most meaningful accomplishment as a Luther baseball player was winning the conference tournament my sophomore year and getting to compete at regionals. This was so meaningful because that raised the standards for Luther baseball. We were battling a handful of serious injuries late in the year, but guys stepped up and we were able to get it done.

Being part of the first college game played at the Field of Dreams Movie Site was unbelievable and will for sure be one of my greatest memories of my baseball career. I unfortunately was not able to play in the game because I had not been cleared yet from surgery this past summer but that did not take anything away from that experience. Getting able to walk out of that corn was something words cannot describe. Seeing that many people watching us play in Dyersville, Iowa, at the Field of Dreams felt like a movie. Growing up in Iowa, that was always my favorite baseball movie because it had that part that no other baseball movie had; I am an Iowa kid and that means a lot to me.

A big highlight for me was getting to cheer on my younger brother in his first collegiate baseball game. In his first college at-bat, he flipped a ball into left field for one of our only hits that night, and that was an emotional moment for me as well. That night was something I will never forget and something us brothers can hold on to forever. The other big highlight was what you would guess: getting to play catch with my dad and brother on the field after the game had finished. I’ve been to the field and done that before, but it was different that night. The energy around Luther baseball and the people in Dyersville is what made it so special to end the night like that.

“Mentally, baseball can be challenging. It is the only sport that’s a game of failure, and that frustrates many people.”

The thing I like most about baseball is competing. No matter what I’m doing, I love competing; it’s just who I am. Baseball is a kid’s game and taking the field with your teammates is one of the best feelings—nothing better than getting dirty and making sweet plays. I love baseball most because, mentally, it can be challenging. It is the only sport that’s a game of failure, and that frustrates many people and becomes too hard for them to handle. Mentally, being engaged for nine innings can be tough, but that’s what I think makes it fun.

One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned from being a student athlete is that sometimes you will fail, and all you can do is get back up and try again. You are not perfect, and you will make mistakes, but you just need to keep moving forward.

I’ve had an amazing experience as a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a group of people who all come together for the same purpose. It gives us all a safe space on campus to talk about our beliefs and be who we are. It is also nice to know there are other athletes on campus who think and believe the same things you do. It’s fun going to support and cheer on the other members in their sport. It’s a nice breath of fresh air to meet with the group once a week and dive into the word.

I pray for a wide variety of things—it really depends on what’s happening in my life. Most of the time I’m praying for God to work in ways to make me a better person. I will also pray for friends and family who may be struggling in any kind of way.

To me, grace means what God is doing in my life and instilling in me on a daily basis to help lead the best life for myself and those around me. Pouring into me so I can pour into others. This grace we receive from God is a gift to us.

I’m a Lutheran because people make mistakes, and that’s OK because we are forgiven. Jesus died for our sins so we will be forgiven, and we must make peace with our past and move on. I am nowhere near perfect, and I know that, but through believing, practicing and reading the word, I am striving toward being as Christlike as I can in my everyday life.

John Potter
John G. Potter is a content editor of Living Lutheran.

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