Comets vs. Park Christian Marks Storied History of Celebrated Education
by Liz Peterson and Quincey Circo | Staff Reporters
There’s a special significance in connecting around the game of basketball. Maybe that’s why each year players and fans look forward to the Hillcrest versus Park Christian basketball double-header. This year everything about the night created excitement - from the game of basketball, to the fundraising, the special announcers, and the evening dinner that took place.
The games fell on Saturday, February 8th this year. The day began with the junior varsity girls playing at 1:00pm, followed by the junior varsity boys. Fans packed the stands, and the intensity was building for the four o’clock tip-off of the girls varsity game. The Comet ladies grabbed the win, with an ending score of 39-37. The boys varsity teams took the court at 5:30pm, and after a heated competition and exciting game for both players and fans, the Comets celebrated a 73-62 win.
Coach Gregg Preston commented on the win saying that, “The best part about how the boys have been playing lately is that we are becoming a team in which all of our guys are beginning to make a lot of contribution.” More than that, Coach went on to talk about the importance of the partnership with Park Christian, as well as the mission and purpose of the two Christian schools. In such a partnership he noted, “The other team is not our adversaries. Ultimately, we’re in the same family.” Regarding the mission, he noted that both schools really exist to “make disciples of all nations” which “is more important than any basketball record.”
To add to the excitement and intensity of Christian Ed Night, Kirk Militzer, the pastor at the Triumph Lutheran Brethren church in Moorhead, and Rich Iverson, the associate pastor at Bethel Lutheran Brethren church in Fergus Falls, announced the girls and boys varsity games. The two pastors worked together to bring even more energy and unity to the games, as well as a unique, spiritual groundwork to the entire night.
Fans, parents, and coaches watched the two opponents huddle together and pray after both varsity games, witnessing a clear significance that went beyond a win or a loss. “It is bringing two Christian schools together and uniting as one under the name of God,” captain Daniel Nersten explained, regarding the importance of prayer after such a fierce competition.
Amidst the halftimes of games throughout the day, fundraising events such as lightning and three-point competitions took place. The shared fundraising went towards the mission efforts of both schools. Hillcrest’s supported mission was the Dominican Republic trip the Hillcrest seniors will take this coming spring. Park Christian takes a Washington DC trip every year, and the money raised was split in half supporting both endeavors.
Following the games, Coach Preston not only announced and prayed for the dinner, but also spoke to the packed gym about the purpose of the Christian Ed night. He emphasized that, “our young men and women are going to be the ones that deliver Christ to this nation.” Included in the charge he gave to all of the young Christian leaders of both schools was the statement, “We are desperately in need of people authentically giving Christ and the gospel out.”
Later, Jake Isaac compared this year’s double-header to ones he has been a part of in past seasons, saying, “It was fun that they made the day into a bigger event this year.” As a varsity starter playing for Hillcrest or even just simply playing for a Christian school, Jake was asked about how such a team can represent Jesus while on the court. In response, he gave some insight into what the Hillcrest Comets have been trying to direct their focus on lately. “As a team, we’ve been talking about playing for an audience of One (God), and treating today like it’s our last, since we aren’t promised tomorrow.” Daniel Nersten added that, “It’s important to lead by example, and show God through actions. We have to play for the glory of God, and keep a good attitude.” Daniel stressed the importance of respect as well, to not only the other players but also the refs and coaches.
Christian Ed Night impacted all of the players, fans, and parents as they participated in the excitement and success of the night. Even the players and fans of Park Christian enjoyed the night. Courtney Nepstad, a senior captain of the Park Christian Falcons acknowledged the fun night saying, “It’s very refreshing! [That] we can play [another] team that is honoring to The Lord in what they do and say. I also love the fact that we pray together afterwards. To me it shows that basketball isn’t everything, because we can put aside all the frustrations from the game and pray to our Father.” She also mentioned the hospitality and love of Christ that themed the night with the meal and fellowship time.
While the focus of most basketball games rests on what the scoreboard says, it is clear that this double-header held much more significance. The game of basketball helps to draw people together, and in this case, it went well beyond that. The prayer, the partnered fundraising efforts, and the dinner all added to what brought the people of both Hillcrest and Park Christian closer together as they embraced the Family of Christ.