Not Just Academics

What do seminarians do for fun?” That’s a question I hear a lot. I think sometimes people hear “seminary” and picture something like a 15th-century monastery. They assume that all our days are spent in a classroom, a library, or a dorm room with our heads buried in a book. On some days, that is our “fun.” However, most of our fun does not involve classrooms or textbooks. Yes, we seminarians may be more “normal” than you realize!

Don’t get me wrong, the seminary and its students are “abnormal” in many ways. We spend hours translating Greek and Hebrew, and we like it! But there are also ways the seminary is just like a regular school. For example, we have an athletic department. We have a budget and even an athletic director. Like other schools, sports play a significant role in the campus culture and provide opportunities for students and professors to have fun. Sports bring the seminary family together in
a unique way. Not only professors and students but also wives, friends, and other staff get a chance to enjoy fellowship through sports.

Because of the pandemic, previous school years were not ideal for socializing, so a great emphasis was placed on getting together for the 2022–23 school year. Sports provided many of those opportunities. In the fall, a co-ed volleyball league allowed wives, friends, students, faculty, and staff to compete with and against each other. For the championship game, the bleachers were packed, and we even had a concession stand providing snacks and refreshments.

After Christmas break, the basketball season began. Sixty students and professors signed up to play, and six captains drafted them to their teams. The teams battled to be crowned SBL (Seminary Basketball League) champions! As the brutal Wisconsin winter dragged on, intramural games during the week provided much-needed entertainment and laughter.

As the basketball season ended, sporting events moved outside to take advantage of the spring weather. One weekend, the students traveled to Martin Luther College for a softball tournament. On another, a golf outing was held at a nearby course. Students set up a nine-hole frisbee golf course
on the seminary’s beautiful campus. Professors and students often took breaks from studies between classes to play in the annual cornhole tournament. New to the seminary this year
was the co-ed pickleball tournament.

In addition to the organized sporting events on campus, pick-up basketball and soccer games take place many mornings before class.

It’s normal for a school to have sports and an athletic department, but at the seminary, it’s about more than wins and losses. These sporting events are opportunities for future brothers in the ministry to learn how to work and compete together. These games allow wives to interact with one another and build lifelong friendships. These tournaments give professors and students the time to build meaningful relationships. These interactions outside of the classroom make the classroom interactions more impactful.

So, what do seminarians do for fun? Just like you, we enjoy spending time with our friends and family. We like to grow and strengthen bonds between new and old colleagues. We look to find moments of release from the daily stressors of life. We seek to glorify God with our abilities. For many of us, sports provide all those things. We thank God for allowing us to return to normal seminary sports!

Nathanael Goelzer was assigned in May 2023 to Gethsemane, Davenport, Iowa. He served as the
seminary’s athletic director his senior year.