Red Raider Athletics: A Tool for Discipleship

President Greg Christy


Colton Kooima ’18 was one of the best to ever play basketball for the Red Raiders. He was named a first team All-American and GPAC player of the year this season, and he set the school’s single-game scoring record with 51 points. He fell just 37 points shy of tying Northwestern’s career scoring record.

One of the things that stood out the most to me about Colton was his tweet the day after the Red Raiders’ season-ending loss at the national tournament:

“I am so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to give everything I have for these coaches, my brothers and all of Raider Nation. I came into this program a selfish kid and am leaving as a man who desires to make a difference, and that is what I will cherish forever. Thank you!”

Praise God for the growth in Colton’s life and the lives of many others like him! This epitomizes the mission of Red Raider athletics: Pursuing Athletic Excellence—Developing Christian Character—Preparing for Life.

Northwestern has a storied history of athletic success. We’ve won nine national team championships and additional titles in individual sports, as well as many Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) championships. Six athletes and coaches have been inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame.

This year was especially successful for Raider Nation: We won the GPAC All-Sports Trophy for the first time and finished seventh nationally in the Learfield Directors’ Cup NAIA standings. We celebrate this success, but even more, we celebrate stories like Colton’s, which are a credit to our coaches and athletic department leaders who serve for the right reasons—to impact the lives of young women and men for a lifetime and even eternity.

Not only a basketball star, Colton was a four-year all-conference golfer and one of the reasons the Raiders advanced to nationals each year. One of his teammates, two-time GPAC golfer of the year Justin Kraft ’18, posted these comments on Instagram after their season drew to a close:

“I thank Coach Aberson for not only believing in me and fine-tuning my game, but being a friend and helping strengthen my spiritual life as well … I gotta give a huge thank you to my teammates. We all battled for each other these past four years; you guys are what kept me going even when I didn’t have it ... I don’t know what’s next for me. But what I do know is I’m leaving Northwestern not just a better golfer but, more importantly, a better man.”

I am grateful that Red Raider athletics is a shining example of Northwestern’s mission of engaging students in courageous and faithful learning and living that empowers them to follow Christ and pursue God’s redeeming work in the world. Go Red Raiders!

Read about some of our outstanding Red Raider women athletes on page 17.

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