TWU Spartans Athletics Helps Athlete Survive Grief of Losing Mom

SPARTA is the annual publication produced by the Trinity Western University Athletics Department, telling the stories of our Spartan community.

Words by Michaella Crema 

This year, I completed my fifth season as a Spartan on the women's volleyball team. Each year was unique, bringing its own joys and hardships. My first year took me to China. My second year introduced me to the man I'm about to marry. My third year brought me to counselling. My fourth year gave me a concussion. And my fifth year absolutely shattered my world. Those of you who know me know that my mom passed away from a blood clot in her lung on October 1, 2019.

I felt like I was in a movie. I was planning my wedding, finishing up volleyball, graduating from university and dreaming about my future. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. Then, after a practice on Oct. 1, my phone began buzzing saying that my mom was sick and that I needed to go to the hospital right away. When I arrived, a social worker met me and took me into a room to tell me that my mom was gone. I texted my head coach, Ryan Hofer, to tell him that I didn't think I'd be able to make it to practice that day. Before I knew it, Ryan, Joel Pesut (one of our assistant coaches) and Carol Hofer (Ryan's wife and an associate director of athletics at TWU) arrived at the hospital to hug me, cry with me and pray for me. 

Right away, my coaches blessed me by giving me 10 days to do whatever the heck I felt I needed to do. Then, after the 10 days, they were really sensitive and never pushed me – everything was on my terms. I really struggled with this freedom. I knew I needed it because I was an absolute mess, but being a student-athlete for most of my life had got me in the habit of ignoring my needs in order to meet all of the requirements around me. My coaches were giving me a level of grace that I had never tangibly experienced before. Their grace helped me give myself grace and I became more aware of what I really needed. They welcomed all of the different emotions that each moment brought upon me. They gave me a beautiful glimpse into the grace that God has to offer us every day.

Sometimes I wonder what this year would have looked like if I were not a Spartan. What if I was forced back onto the court when I wasn't ready? What if I didn't have coaches who asked how I was doing and how my faith was holding up? What if I didn't have Reverend James Ellis III and his wife checking on me and taking me out for dessert? What if I didn't have athletic therapists, like Natalie Ghobrial, to randomly weep with during my appointment? 

Honestly, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else. 

This year, being a Spartan was exactly what I needed. 

Michaella Crema's story is the opening piece of an extensive 14-part series, detailing the people and the stories that make up Spartan Athletics. 

Print copies of the SPARTA magazine are available for purchase. All proceeds go to scholarships for students in need.

Click here to request to purchase a hard copy of the SPARTA magazine ($35 + shipping). 

For more information on TWU Spartan Athletics, please visit TWU Spartans.


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