SAN ANTONIO (BP)–Oklahoma captain and star guard Whitney Hand did not even step on the court for the Sooners’ semifinals matchup against Stanford — a 73-66 loss — at the 2010 Women’s Final Four in the Alamodome on Sunday.
But the sophomore Sooner said her faith in Jesus Christ has been enough to carry her through a most difficult season.
Hand, who earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year honors last year, tore her ACL in the fifth game this season and was lost for the year.
“When [the injury] first happened it was a shock,” said Hand, who selected OU after starring at Liberty Christian Academy outside of Dallas, “but I know everything happens for a reason and I know the Lord has a plan for me.”
As team captain who was counted on for leadership and inspiration, Hand said the injury showed her that women’s college basketball was only what she does, not who she is.
“It was really a wake-up and a realization that [basketball] can be over at any time,” she said. “It really gave me a different perspective on my life.”
Hand said her life verse is James 4:14 which speaks of life being a mist and a vapor, perhaps akin to what happened to her promising season this year.
While Oklahoma’s loyal fans have lifted the team by setting attendance records for home games in recent years, Hand said her biggest support system has been her college church, Community Church led by pastor Chris Bennett, a Baylor University graduate.
When she was hurt during a tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands last fall, she said her church family rallied to her side.
“They are a huge part of all that I am. Having people at that level who will pray and care for you is huge.”
Hand said she has watched plenty of Christian athletes openly speak of their faith in Jesus Christ after a key victory or athletic high, but she wanted to show people her faith has not been diminished in what some would feel has been a lost season for her.
“I feel my faith has been tested and I was given a real flash of reality this year,” she said. “Every Christian should be an example in good times and in bad. That is what we are called to do. That is my gift and my goal.”
Art Stricklin is a Dallas-based sports correspondent for Baptist Press.