Meet Leah Holtz, a first-year transfer student in the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) program from Grand Prairie, Alberta, and a member of the 2019 junior varsity women’s volleyball program.
Coming from a family with a strong basketball background, Holtz has blazed a new trail by selecting volleyball as the sport she loves. “A friend invited me to a volleyball clinic in junior high and I fell in love with the sport. I felt like I could play forever and never stop.” Holtz has brought valuable skill and experience to the team, having won a gold medal at the 2014 Alberta Winter Games and a silver medal at the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Greenland against Alaska.
Volleyball at Briercrest had originally been proposed by head coach of the women’s varsity team Nolan Weinmaster, who had been interested in having Holtz join his program in 2017. However, Holtz had other plans, sharing, “originally I decided I didn’t want to attend Briercrest because it didn’t offer any courses of interest. I wanted to travel and experience life and to do other things besides volleyball, so I decided to go to Capernwray, Sweden.” But during her time in Sweden, Holtz had the opportunity to teach English, igniting an interest in teaching English as a career. “Nolan had suggested TESOL, and God kept bringing Briercrest to mind, so he pulled some strings and made it happen. Although it hadn’t been my plan to attend Briercrest, it was His.”
Since coming to Briercrest, Holtz has enjoyed the rich community offered by the college, but more than that has discovered it to be a secure place to seek out answers. “Something I really value is that Briercrest is a good place to battle out things in your head. Any questions about religion or God can be answered here. Professors are so willing to answer your questions and the chaplain does a great job in chapel.” Holtz shares that Briercrest offers so much to take advantage of, explaining “it’s a good opportunity to dig into the word and find growth, there’s a lot of transformation that can happen here.”
During her club and high school career, Holtz found opportunities where God used her faith to impact her teammates, playing with a different attitude and leading a different life than the rest of her team. However, the most impactful moment Holtz experienced was as a coach, sharing, “I was coaching 12/13-year old’s and realized how much influence I had in their lives and knew that through my actions and how I coached I needed to teach them good values about how and why we play. I had conversations with them about things that they hadn’t thought about in life and had an opportunity to be an example to the other coaches.”
Although Briercrest had not been her original plan, Holtz has learned to trust in God and where he is leading her. A verse that has helped her on this journey is Galatians 2:20, which states, “my old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Holtz shares that, “this verse has been really assuring, teaching me to surrender and recognizing that I don’t have the strength to do this on my own, but because He lives in me He is my strength.”