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

Juanita rolls over Bellevue

Juanita’s Nico Ruyle drives to the hoop for a score during the… Continue reading

Juanita’s Ashley Schroeder notches a dig during her squad’s 3-0 volleyball loss to Bellevue on Sept. 20. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Ault Justus
Digging away for Juanita

Juanita’s Ashley Schroeder notches a dig during her squad’s 3-0 volleyball loss… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Panthers Youth Rugby
Panthers Youth Rugby rolls into action

Panthers Youth Rugby is encouraging boys and girls in middle school and… Continue reading

A Decatur High School student in Federal Way participates in a conditioning workout in Feb. 2021 as the state eased back in to in-person activities. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
State announces mask requirements for student sports, performing arts

Athletes are not required to wear masks when participating in sports of any contact level while outside.

Screenshot of video obtained by Redmond police shows Richard Sherman trying to break into the Redmond home of his in-laws.
Former Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman charged with five misdemeanors in King County

Charges were filed following an incident at home of Sherman’s in-laws in Redmond.

Redmond Police arrest former Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman

Redmond Police allege former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman crashed into a… Continue reading

Snoqualmie Casino unveiled the first immersive Seahawks-branded table game experience Sept. 18, 2020, in a ribbon cutting dedication with Snoqualmie Tribe Council members and Snoqualmie Casino executives. Courtesy photo
Gambling Commission OKs pacts with tribes for sports betting

Agreements with 15 tribes await approval by the governor and the feds.

Kentwood High football. FILE PHOTO
WIAA Executive Board revises Season 1 sports in response to state guidelines

Practices scheduled to begin Feb. 1 for football, volleyball, soccer and 5 other sports

The Mercer Island boys basketball celebrates their 61-36 victory over Interlake in the 3A KingCo championship game on Feb. 11, 2020, at Sammamish High School. File photo
WIAA pushes back return to play for prep sports

Season 2 now begins Feb. 1 and seasons have been shortened to seven weeks each.

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
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.