Published July 6, 2017
Take a moment to stop and think of how God has brought you through your life; through times of uncertainty and times of security. Consider how each aspect of your journey has intertwined to ultimately bring you to where you are today. Each intersection is a piece of a much larger plan that God is still working out in your life. For me, I don’t know if where I am is my last stop or not, but it’s definitely where God wants me right now.
I have the opportunity to work for Next College Student Athlete (NCSA), a company that assists student athletes with the goal of playing collegiate athletics. Every day I talk to families from around the country, sometimes even the world, and I get to share with them what it takes to accomplish their athletic goals. I do this specifically with student athletes seeking to play the sport of softball. I wouldn’t be able to help these families if God hadn’t given me a very specific path that has enabled me to fulfill the tasks required within my role.
Let me share with you some of the journey God has had me on and allow me to show you how I believe He has very clearly directed my life, even from the time I was a child. I share this with the hope of encouraging you with the fact that He has a plan for you as well.
At the age of seven I started playing softball. When I entered junior high, my small Christian school didn’t offer softball, so I played in the community. This allowed me to rub shoulders with people I otherwise wouldn’t have—particularly those outside of my typical Christian circle. I began to play competitively, and by the time I was a junior in high school, I was playing in tournaments designed for college coaches to attend and recruit student athletes. I had already decided I would attend a Christian college as I wanted to study counseling through a biblical worldview. CSU’s softball coach, Bill Higley, came out to see me play and the rest is history.
During my time at Clarks Summit University, I competed in softball, participated actively on the Student Leadership Council and worked on campus. One job, in particular, that I held as an admissions tele-counselor would directly prepare me for what I do today. After graduating, I had the opportunity to continue working for CSU’s admissions department in a data entry role and then later as Support Services Supervisor. Working in admissions gave me insight into the college admissions process I wouldn’t otherwise have had.
As I continued working on campus, I was approached with an opportunity to consider the role of Resident Director in Thomson Hall. I was ecstatic, thinking this was exactly what I wanted to do with my degree; counsel young women in a relational, rather than formal, setting. One year into a 3-year contract, I was presented with the opportunity to pursue a head coaching role at Keystone College. I thought the idea was incredible, but more so absurd. I didn’t see how it would pair at all with my role in the dorm or that it would be something I would be permitted to do because of the time investment required for both. But God had plans for me; plans I didn’t understand at the time. As I entered a role bigger than myself and spent the next 4 years as the head softball coach at Keystone, I had the opportunity to invest in the lives of young women, develop relationships with colleagues and to learn life lessons along the way. Little did I know at the time, I was also brushing shoulders with future co-workers.
A year ago I didn’t expect to step out of coaching. I felt that it was exactly what I wanted to do—use my passion for softball while being able to mentor young women. However, there was one glaring dilemma: my husband, Ken (’07), who had been working all this time in varying jobs, and then who had spent 3 years teaching at a local Christian school, lost his position due to changes in the school as a whole. We were at a crossroads, but we knew God had a plan.
That plan would come to fruition more quickly than we anticipated. Ken had been contacted by a Christian school in Clearwater, Florida, and was talking with them about the possibility of teaching and coaching. We knew, though, that we couldn’t make such a significant move on one salary. God knew that too. I discovered the opening at NCSA and applied for the position, which was a remote/work-from-home position. In a matter of 9 days, I was offered the job. It was on the same day that Ken was extended the opportunity to interview at the Clearwater school. I accepted the position at NCSA. We flew down the next week to Florida and upon return from the trip, Ken accepted his position.
Ken and I have spent this past year doing what we love to do. We have become members of a church filled with a desire to see biblical truth at the foundation of everything they do. We have developed relationships with loving believers that have already invested in our lives in numerous ways. We have had the opportunity to coach, to continue growing our passions and to use them to invest in students. At one point we faced a bump in the road that seemed as if God may have been pulling us to move again. However, that experience ultimately affirmed our assurance that our ministry in Florida is exactly where God wants us.
I do not share all these things to boast of myself, but to show you that regardless of what your passions may be, and regardless of where God is calling you, He has a perfect plan and wants to use even the smallest of things to place you where He wants you to grow. He will grow you personally and will give you the opportunity to invest in others. I am incredibly thankful for all that God has provided and know that whether this is the last stop for us, or if this becomes one more piece of a bigger puzzle, He has it all planned out and has our best interest in mind.
Renee (Korb) Barrows graduated from Clarks Summit University in 2010 and is now Softball Head Recruiting Coach at Next College Student Athlete. NCSA is an organization that seeks to “empower leaders through sports” by assisting high school age athletes in the recruitment process. She holds multiple CSAC and NEAC records and awards; including two CSAC Individual Sportsmanship awards, the CSAC 2009 record for innings pitched and is one of the 2007-08 NEAC Women’s Softball 1st Team All-Conference award winners for the Utility/DH position. She and her husband, Ken—who graduated from CSU in 2007—reside and worship in Clearwater, Florida.