SPARTANS ALUMNI Q&A | JASON KEEGSTRA

SPARTANS ALUMNI Q&A | JASON KEEGSTRA

Jason Keegstra arrived at Trinity Western University in the fall of 2005 to play basketball for the Spartans. Following five years with the men’s basketball team and having gradated with a bachelor’s degree in human kinetics, Keegstra remained at TWU and joined the Spartans staff as the spiritual development coordinator. Since then, he has continued to work within the Spartans athletic department and has been a critical cog in helping athletes flourish within the context of TWU’s Complete Champion Approach.

Beyond his work with TWU, he has continued to pursue a variety of opportunities within the construction industry.

Over his career, Keegstra played in 132 games and was on the floor for 2,248 minutes. He finished his time at TWU with 728 career points and 476 rebounds.

In the first of a series of Spartans alumni features, Keegstra discussed his time at TWU, both as a student and as a staff member.

For nearly five years, you have been the Spartans spiritual development coordinator. Explain what this position entails?
“I’m the representative for spiritual development in the CCA. I work almost exclusively on the men’s side of things and I provide mentorship and leadership development for athletes who need it and want it. I also oversee things, along with Graham Roxburgh, in terms of broader student leadership through SALT (Spartan Athletic Leadership Team). We meet three times a month with SALT. We use that to communicate the mission of Spartan Athletics on the whole, using spiritual development as the foundation of the CCA and working through what it means to represent Christ through your means of influence.

“Ultimately I’m someone who engages in a lot of intentional relationship. Without those relationships, I don’t really accomplish much.”

What does this look like on a day-to-day basis?
“I’m usually here (at TWU) three or four days a week and a lot of that time is spent one-on-one with athletes. We talk about anything from personal influence to some of the negative habitual activities that students work through. A lot of what I do is dictated by what the student is passionate about. In a given day I have two or three of those and then I spend quite a bit of time communicating with the SALT group and helping organise larger group events.”

Why did you decide to stay at TWU after graduating?
“It was a challenging time for me. I was still heavily contemplating if I was going to play basketball professionally overseas. My time here as an athlete was amazing, but it was challenging. I never had any career or season-ending injuries but I had a lot of injuries I was constantly working through. By the time we were done I was burnt out, so I came to the conclusion that if I was going to pursue anything professionally it wouldn’t be for a few years.

“Paul (Ballard), who previously held this position along with his wife suggested I take over for him after I graduate because they were moving on. But I was very reluctant. Personally I wasn’t prepared to step into the role but obviously the Lord had different plans for me. I tried applying for other work and I was overqualified and I still didn’t get them. So I was running and looking for an excuse to say ‘no’ but it never came. So I said ‘okay.’”

What was your experience like at TWU and what was its biggest impact on your life?
“I didn’t come here for school. I was very much the stereotypical jock who came here to play sports and do what I needed to do to maintain my eligibility. But I think more than anything, I was molded by the people that led me. That translates into understanding work ethic, understanding how to get through difficult times and understanding how to execute in difficult situations when you need a result. Those are all by products of the coaching that I’ve had or lack of coaching at times, which forced me into situations where I had to rely on my teammates or my dorm mates.

“Student Life was big for me. Some of the leaders in Rec Services have been big for me in terms of developing my character and challenging me in my faith. I came to the point of owning my faith here, so that’s obviously paramount to what impacted me here. Sport has a beautiful way of taking you to the edge and forcing you do decide whether you want to go further. I wanted to go further but I didn’t want to go further for the wrong reasons. So I had to come to a conclusion about what I believed about who I was and how sport fit into that.

"I was hugely impacted by this place. I’m incredibly passionate about our CCA. I think it’s an incredible foundation for our athletics department and I think we have barely tapped its potential. Transformational education is a reality here. You’re going to be challenged in your faith and that is going to transform the way you think.”

From your perspective, how does it work to integrate faith and sport?
“Christ is about transforming lives and transformation of life is extremely uncomfortable. It forces you to deal with stuff and realize that you aren’t the most important thing. Dealing with that stuff is painful and it’s the hardest thing individuals will go through. The thing that you think is most important to you isn’t the most important thing. The integration part is helping athletes recognize that sport is not them. It is not their identity. If they’re willing to live in their true identity as a follower of Jesus, sport becomes something that can be used to communicate the truth about who they are.

“Integration of faith and sport occurs when a real life commitment to Christ begins in an athlete. Then the sport can be transformed along with the life of the person. This place really helped me figure this out and figure out what life was all about.”

Looking back, what was the highlight from your Spartans career?
“In terms of just on the court highlight, Louis Hurd and I had an amazing alley-oop from half court that happened in my senior year (2009-10). As a guy that can dunk, there’s nothing better than that.

“And the night we had the Spartan 300 out was crazy and that whole playoff series against Victoria (in 2008-09) was crazy. I definitely miss those days.”

Beyond your work at TWU, what else has kept you busy?
“My other work is mostly construction related. I’ve worked a lot with Andrew Westlund, who has been a big Trinity Western advocate for a long time and he’s a business guru who is involved with SKY Helicopters. So I’ve done a bunch of different things, including building a new hangar.

“I’ve also worked with something called rubber stone, which is an exterior flooring. I’ve always enjoyed that stuff and done well in that field. So it’s a nice one to pick up randomly and make a bit of money.”

-TW-

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