SPRING ARBOR, Mich. – A weekend working at Michigan International Speedway has grown into a tradition for several Spring Arbor University athletic teams over the last few years. Whether it is catering, concessions or clean-up, it is always a fun way to serve others and kick off the upcoming athletic year.
More than 120 student-athletes from the men's and women's track and field, women's basketball and women's soccer teams had the opportunity to experience the excitement of the Pure Michigan 400 this year at one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR. The Cougars worked in multiple areas throughout MIS, including suites inside the track, skyboxes and victory lane. Jeremy Smith, the director of track and field, even had the chance to meet the grand marshal of the race, Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill.
"It was a great experience to work with, and see how well represented our Cougars were in the corporate suites above pit row this year," said Smith. "We handled almost all the operations in that location, from servers in the suites, to food runners. It was awesome being surrounded by and serving alongside each other...many members, with different duties, representing one body."
Head women's track and field coach Bryan Burk added, "I could not be more proud as a coach for the representation and example that was left for the MIS staff yet another year! We got to serve people who do not know Christ and show them that we love and care for them even though we may never meet them again. It is hard work and long hours but we grow closer as a team as we 'serve our hearts out'."
The main purpose of the weekend-long event for the SAU teams is to fundraise for their specific programs. This year, however, gave Smith and his teams a greater purpose. A portion of the money raised by the track and field squads will go towards an endowed scholarship to honor the memory of teammate and captain, Quinten Greiner. His automobile was sadly struck by a drunk driver earlier this summer as he headed to a special leadership retreat. The goal of the Quinten Greiner Track & Field Memorial Scholarship Fund will be to provide deserving student-athletes with additional funding to attend SAU.
"Losing our beloved captain and teammate to a tragic car accident in June has been really difficult for us to grieve and heal from," said Smith. "MIS this year was different, but by the grace of God, it seemed like we had the best focus, serving God and honoring Quinten with every breath."
In addition to what the team earned through working their regular assignments over the weekend, several athletes took the initiative on their own to get authorized to collect cans from the suites to recycle. After three days of collecting, the Cougars recycled more than 4,300 cans and donated the money raised from their efforts to the scholarship fund.
"I couldn't be more proud of how our Cougars represented SAU, and more importantly, Jesus Christ," commented Smith. "It's one thing to challenge our team to 'Do it (Track & Field) differently' by the way we represent Christ, but it's so beautiful to see the fruits of the Spirit in action through their lives regardless of who they are working with, serving, or what duty they are assigned. John 15:5 is one of our main team verses...'I am the vine, you are the branches, if a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit...apart from me you can do nothing.' It's awesome to see our Cougars 'bear much fruit' as they remain in Christ, dependent on Him, one day at a time."
MIS was a tremendous way to kick-start the scholarship fund. To help continue to fundraise for the scholarship, Smith has organized the Memorial Run for Quinten, which will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17 on the campus of SAU. The run will start at the SAU McKenna Carillon Tower at 1:59 p.m. – Quinten's personal-best time in the 800 meter run. There will be an option of a two-mile run, or a two-mile on and off-road adventure run, featuring cross country trails, a mud pit, a hill climb and a victory lap on the track.