MISHAWAKA—On Aug. 22, Athletic Director Tony Natali challenged the student athletes, coaches and the entire athletic department with a focus point for this year: “Get used to different.”
“I feel like we are called in our walk with Christ to continually look for ways to be different and to look outside the box a little bit,” Natali said. “So, I am challenging our coaches in their spiritual development with their teams—what are they doing differently? And I challenged all of our student athletes to be different this year.”Athletic Director Tony Natali
What makes Bethel different from other schools in the area? This is a question Natali wants to answer through the athletic program, each individual sports team and every single athlete on campus because he said that is where the difference starts. His vision includes creating something on this campus that impacts the lives of everyone involved, and it starts small with things like simply attending the games of other teams, something encouraged through the scheduling of all-athlete games, where all the athletes go to the first home game of every sports team. Natali furthers this in challenging the coaches and athletes to find ways to be uplifting to each other and to be impactful in the community, focusing on having respect for others and representing the department well.
Natalie first heard the phrase “get used to different” on the TV show series “The Chosen,” and it immediately struck him. He knew this exactly described his vision for the department this year. This can be applied to multiple levels, first as offering student-athletes something more different here at Bethel than they could find anywhere else, and second on a more spiritual level, acknowledging that God has called us to live differently than what is going on around us.
Every year Natali has come up with a theme for the athletic department to focus on daily. Last year’s theme was “Win the Day,” which meant striving towards excellence in everything going on in that day and not taking a single day for granted. The athletic department ended up not only winning the day, but winning the year as well, going up from eighth to fourth in Bethel’s all-league standings.
“One of the things I have really tried to do is finish the year at a better place than where we started,” Natali said. “I feel like last year we did that in many ways. So, my hope is when we get to May and we are done with this year that we have all done things differently in our walk with Christ and put him at the center of our lives.”