Every Tabor president has helped shape the role of athletics at Tabor, in addition to all of the athletic directors and coaches, of course. Here’s how Tabor President David Janzen views the role of athletics at a small Christian college.
Janzen said: “One of the great advantages of attending a small college like Tabor is the opportunity to participate in a wide range of activities, such as student government, fine arts, spiritual leadership, undergraduate research/projects, and sports. Students usually mature and grow in leadership, teamwork, and communication skills as they participate. I see at Tabor many student-athletes who thrive as they balance sports with the rest of their college experience. In addition, sports events, like concerts, plays and lectures, can bring the community together to show support, be entertained and enjoy simply being together.”
I’ve long suspected that athletics plays a more significant role at small colleges than larger schools because of the number of student-athletes who are involved.
“Many youths are involved in athletics from early ages,” said Janzen. “It is natural for those who have enjoyed positive athletic experiences to want to continue through college years. Small colleges provide an opportunity for many young adults to continue to mature as athletes, people, and leaders with the mentoring of a coach.
“What I love about athletics at Tabor is that it is consistent with our mission to prepare people for lives of learning, work, and service for Christ and His Kingdom. We strive to mentor students in their journey, and for many of our student-athletes, their coaches and teammates are primary role models and mentors.”
Janzen believes collegiate sports provide a context where student-athletes can form strong relationships, be mentored, get exercise, set goals, and provide leadership.
That said, the new Tabor president also has some concerns. “It is a concern when a student comes to college only for a sport,” said Janzen. “College is by definition an academic institution. If an athlete has no interest in higher education, they are less likely to stay for four years to get a degree and become a leader in their sport and on campus.”
Janzen understands and appreciates the competitive nature of student-athletes and coaches.
“I assume all coaches and athletes want to win,” said Janzen. “This seems innate in athletic competition and can be healthy. Our No. 1 priority at Tabor is our mission, to prepare students for a life of learning, work, and service for Christ and His Kingdom. Winning should never supersede our mission.
“When we recruit students who want what Tabor offers in terms of mission, academics, residential life, and athletics, and when our coaches and athletes do their best as unto God, I think students will have a great experience, want to stay and complete their degree, become leaders on and off the court/field, and I think we will see many wins in the process.”
President Janzen acknowledges that competition occurs in areas of college life beyond athletics.
“I’m guessing my former colleagues might say that I was a bit of an over-achiever,” said Janzen. “When it came to meeting the requirements for academic promotion, for instance, I always wanted to exceed expectations, which meant getting more than enough publications or grants or positive teaching evaluations.
“We could expand this to the business world where a certain amount of competitiveness was key for developing our Squid app that was distinguished from competitors in quality and functionality. I hope that my former colleagues would also say that I was very collaborative, helping us all succeed together,” said Janzen.
Finally, I asked President Janzen to highlight some of his goals or objectives at Tabor.
“Authentic Christian higher education is vitally important for our communities, country, and world,” said Janzen. “My number-one priority is staying true to our mission as we participate in Christ’s work to be King in everyone’s life.
“I have several strategic priorities focused around academic excellence, financial stability, new residence halls, and entrepreneurship. Stay tuned for what I believe will be some exciting developments at Tabor and in our community.”
Here’s my two cents’ worth. If President Janzen succeeds at Tabor, we all will reap the benefits. Here’s to his success!