Members of the Northwest University volleyball team are using Zoom to stay connected with weekly life group meetings. Image courtesy of Northwest University

Members of the Northwest University volleyball team are using Zoom to stay connected with weekly life group meetings. Image courtesy of Northwest University

Northwest’s volleyball team stays connected during trying times

The squad has been using Zoom to hold weekly meetings during which they check in and pray for each other if needed.

  • Thursday, April 9, 2020 1:30pm
  • Sports

Special to the Reporter

Student-athletes across the United States saw their routines thrown out of their natural rhythms with the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the Northwest University (NU) volleyball team has clung to one of its valued exercises.

While most NU students have left Kirkland, where the virus claimed its first lives in the United States, the Eagles have kept their life group — a fellowship, prayer and devotional meeting — intact through Zoom meetings.

“Sarah [Howlett] and I begin the life group with a little check-in, and each individual shares her highs and lows of the week,” junior Tatiana Ensz said. “Then, we break out into a few different small groups and each group reads the devotional of the day or the verse that aligns with the devotional from the book ‘New Morning Mercies.’ Then they talk about what stood out to them in the devotional and answer a few of the follow-up questions. After the group reflects on the devotional, they talk about what everyone needs prayer for. After the small group sessions are over, we meet as a team, and one of the girls prays over our team and asks for any other prayer requests.”

Everyone on the team and all of the 2020 incoming roster are included in the life group.

“We always spend all of March, April and the beginning of May together during our spring season, so seeing them via Zoom helps deepen the team connection and build the team dynamic even when we aren’t with each other in person,” Ensz said.

Students at Northwest have long stopped meeting in classrooms and Zoom is the new normal for the academic aspect of college life at NU.

“This continued education has allowed me to view college through a new perspective,” Mady Marggraf said. “I see all the effort my professors are putting in to prepare classes and I feel so grateful. This experience has made me value my friends and teammates, who I miss dearly, and value college as a whole. Life groups have not only been something I look forward to every week but also a time that allows me to connect with my teammates. I love hearing how everyone is doing and knowing how we can pray for each other through this season of life. Life groups are just one way that our team is practicing unity off the court and I know that this will be foundational to our season.”

The meeting also gives the team’s incoming freshmen and transfers an opportunity to get to know their new teammates away from the court.

“I’ve benefited by watching the girls interact with one another and it makes me excited to get to know everyone,” incoming freshman Karste Wright said. “The group connection has meant that I have something really good to look forward to on Sunday nights. This connection has excited me further in the prospect of a team that cares about connecting on a faith and spiritual level.”

Transfer Mady Trout also has found the meetings beneficial as a newcomer, getting to know the team and bringing some stability to the times.

“I’m getting to know the team and the other recruits more,” Trout said. “We’re keeping the vision for the season coming up, even in a time like the lockdown where things feel unstructured and chaotic.”

The spiritual element has always been the focus of the group and remains essential.

“The current outbreak has pushed me to lean into my relationship with the Lord more and more and truly think about what is most important,” Eleanor Mason said.

The outbreak has been more than an inconvenience, even if college students seem less affected directly. That makes being able to connect, even at a distance, an experience met with much gratitude.

“At the end of the day, the relationships and friendships we have with others is the most important thing,” Ensz said. “I know that when we all see each other for the first time after all of this, it is going to be very special. With that being said, I think any time that we spend with one another won’t be taken for granted, and we will truly appreciate the time we spend with our teammates.”

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Sports

In this file photo from March 2020, the Federal Way High School boys basketball team reacts in the final minutes of the state quarterfinals game against Mt. Si High School. File photo
New guidelines released for return of prep sports in WA

The new plan places counties and sports in three-tier systems. No signs of a quicker return to play.

Doctor IDs safety measures for youth team sports practices

Before practice begins, parents must understand COVID-19 protective protocols

Pictured: A Mercer Island High School swimmer competes in fall 2019. Washington Interscholastic Activities Association recently announced the girls swim and dive season will be moved to “Season 3,” which begins March 1. File photo
WIAA gives schools option to delay start of prep sports until December

An updated plan moves girls swimming to Season 3 and makes fall cross country an alternate season.

The Todd Beamer Titans football team in Federal Way during a 2019 summer practice. File photo
WIAA modifies prep sports calendar; football moved to spring

Washington’s high school athletics governing body announced its revised plans for the… Continue reading

WIAA delays start dates for fall sports

Football practices to begin Sept. 5, all other sports planned for Sept. 7.

Northwest University’s Ford signs with Seattle Mountaineers

The 6-foot-6-inch forward ended his senior season as the No. 1 rebounder in the nation with 12.03 rebounds per game.

Northwest’s volleyball team stays connected during trying times

The squad has been using Zoom to hold weekly meetings during which they check in and pray for each other if needed.

No-show season: WIAA announces cancellation of spring sports, activities

Due to the school closure extension, the cancellation includes all practices, competitions, tournaments and championships, WIAA says.

There’s still hope for spring sports, WIAA announces

Washington Interscholastic Activities Association making contingency plans for high school sports competitions after extension of stay home order.

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.

Athletic practices and competitions cancelled through April 24 due to coronavirus outbreak

By Andy Nystrom and Benjamin Olson Gov. Jay Inslee announced on March… Continue reading

Games are being postponed in response to coronavirus outbreak

In response to the recent coronavirus outbreak, Eastside schools are taking precautions… Continue reading