Playing in a college sport takes a lot of time and energy, but that’s not the only effect it has on a student athlete. Participating on a team allows students to make great bonds with teammates and coaches. And it’s that aspect of being a part of a sport that helped to birth the idea of SALT, which stands for Student Athlete Leadership Training.

Through SALT, student athletes are equipped and trained in the area of spiritual leadership so that they can influence their teams and the campus for Christ. To accomplish this, coaches nominate two athletes who have demonstrated leadership from each sports team for a weeklong retreat. (The location changes each year.)

During the retreat, athletes and leaders participate in various team-building activities, like white-water rafting. Other activities throughout the week include worship, discussion and personal reflection time. According to former Bethel Athletic Director Mark Lantz, who helped organize SALT, he believes the training will provide students with tools needed to assist in leadership development.

SALT is in its sixth year and has made impacts on many students who have gone through the program, like baseball player J.J. Dubois (’12).

“I don’t even know where to start about my SALT story. I was privileged enough to go on the trip two times (’09 and ’10), once as a regular athlete and then again as a student leader. Both times I not only had an amazing time, but I also grew in my faith.

I was able to learn things and talk with people about faith and leadership that I never would have received without Head Baseball Coach Seth Zartman recommending me for this amazing trip. Mark Lantz brings you to a place where you are comfortable becoming vulnerable with people you do not know that well. I was able to get to know people and build relationships that never would have occurred without this amazing trip. There are people from other sports that I never would have talked to and had prior stereotypes against before and now some of these athletes are my best friends. For example, I never thought basketball players were people that I would find joy in hanging out with. I now live on the same floor as Joe Welch (’11), Caleb Laidig (’11) and Matt Owens (’12), all who went on the trip. These three guys are some of my best friends and I was able to connect with them on the SALT trip.

Aside from all the amazing activities we got to do (such as high ropes, canoeing, zip lines, water slides, etc.) I was able to experience a relationship with Jesus Christ that I never thought I was possible to get to. I have been a Christian my entire life, but a flame was reignited in my faith during my SALT trips and I continue to grow in my faith, much thanks to the SALT trips. There is a comfort level I received in Christ just by talking to people and being away from society for those five days. Any student that is lucky enough to go on this trip will be changed forever, in an incredible way.”