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COLLEGE ATHLETICS: The phrase often conjures up thoughts of massive events with tens of thousands of fans cheering on their football team on an autumn Saturday. While this can be true, Cairn’s approach to athletics focuses not on massive appeal to thousands of fans, but on the development of student-athletes as they grow and mature through their college years.

“In Cairn Athletics, we’re in the development business,” says Interim Director of Athletics Matt Milich, “not only developing on-the-field skills, but also helping our student-athletes develop as scholars and future professionals, community-minded servant-leaders, and disciples of Christ, interweaving faith with athletics. We want to intentionally prepare our student-athletes through athletics to go out, serve, and further the Kingdom.”


Payton Emerick '19Being a student-athlete definitely impacts my performance as a student. Being a student-athlete means that there’s no break and, as a result, there’s no time to slack off. It requires another level of discipline, because there’s so much going on and there’s so much in my schedule. My grades are better when I’m in season, because with practices and games, there’s no time to procrastinate. I just have to get my work done. There’s also an extra level of accountability. My coaches and teammates are counting on me and want me to succeed.” Payton Emerick ’19, women’s basketball and women’s soccer


Gregg Fanus

“We want our student-athletes to be godly men and women who live out their faith in ways that show others the love of Christ. Our student-athletes do that by going beyond just playing a sport and having a testimony; they also have an impact on those around them in the community. Volunteering and working in the community allow our student-athletes to live authentically, connecting their faith with their interpersonal interactions now and in the future.” Gregg Fanus, assistant director of athletics ministry and outreach


Kenny Mercadante '18

“You see a wide variety of guys come onto the team, and they’re all in a different place in their faith journey. As a leader, you want to impact them and help move them in the right direction. It’s so encouraging seeing that it’s not just you, but everyone on the team coming around them. Guys come in when they’re young, and two years later, you see the impact that the team played in their faith journey. It’s really a two-way street. It’s so encouraging, to see guys growing around you. It strengthens your faith to know your impact and the growth that everyone is experiencing.” Kenny Mercadante ’18, men’s soccer


Phil Shallenberger

“Athletics gives our student-athletes opportunities to grow and learn from one another while working together toward a common goal. We want our student-athletes to take ownership of how they lead. Too often, people view mistakes as a negative. We want our student-athletes to understand there are going to be failures throughout their lives. These failures provide opportunities to learn, allowing our student-athletes to grow through experiences on the field, in the classroom, and beyond.” Phill Shallenberger, head coach (baseball)

ON THE FIELDJason O'Connell

“We strive to compete at the highest level and utilize the gifts that God has blessed us with to the best of our abilities. We don’t ever want to lose due to a lack of commitment or effort. Regardless of a game’s outcome, we want to be the team that’s more prepared. We want to put in the time, effort, and energy to compete well in our sport. Wins and losses don’t define our success. 10 to 15 years down the road is when we find out how successful we were as coaches. We want to hear about the victories from our guys in their jobs, with their families, and in their faith. We tell them, ‘The success of your time playing at Cairn is not going to be measured in the here and now. Down the road, you’ll look back and realize the impact that playing at Cairn made on your life.’” Jason O’Connell, head coach (men’s basketball)

The Cairn Highlanders compete as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. “At the NCAA Division III level, institutions seek to establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete’s athletics activities are conducted as an integral part of the student-athlete’s educational experience.”