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I absolutely love the game of basketball and have enjoyed my own experiences as a player at Lincoln Christian School and Nebraska Wesleyan University (back in my skinny days). One of the reasons I love the game is because of the opportunities it presents to mold and shape the character of our players and to take advantage of the lessons that can be learned through the game of basketball.

One of my favorite lines in our girls’ basketball mission statement is that “the arena of basketball provides a laboratory for Christian growth that is unique to the rest of the school environment.” The ups and downs experienced in the excitement of basketball become lessons to grow upon and opportunities to teach student-athletes how to deal with different circumstances. The heartache we feel and challenges that we face within a season are often times blessings in disguise.

I talk a lot to our girls about the importance of embracing the process within a season and all that goes into it from summer lifting, leagues and camps, to individual workouts, pre-season conditioning and each opportunity we get to practice and compete. When you think about it, a team doesn’t win a game all at once. A night of basketball is an event-filled thirty-two-minute stream of fast breaks, shots, rebounds, possessions, steals, passes, etc. It’s not possible to win on every possession, to score every time you touch the ball or stop your opponent every time they touch the ball. Each player will face smaller battles within themselves during a practice or game and throughout the season. Through these experiences comes the learning and developing of the fundamentals of our faith and character such as humility, selflessness, love, unity, self-discipline, courage, perseverance, hard work and sacrifice to name a few.

As a coach, I understand the importance and responsibility of modeling and teaching these principles and I get to learn and grow through the process as well. Losing is just as much a part of the process as winning. I want to be the coach in our student athletes’ lives who makes a difference and leads their team into significant achievement beyond wins and losses. I believe that starts by keeping wins and losses in proper perspective. Adversity will test our convictions and our determination to stay on course. Think about it – every profession, every area of life, has its own certain kind of setbacks.

Facing those setbacks is what keeps you going because life is difficult. Once you realize and accept that fact we can move on with a genuine kind of peace and can focus on the things that we are able to control.

I love the strength of our schedule because I know it will expose our individual and team strengths and weaknesses and give us the opportunity to smooth off those rough edges in practice as we desire to get better each day. We are in the very competitive Centennial Conference and we play several Class B schools as well. I believe this helps us to be “battle tested” as we strive to remain focused as a team through the ups and downs that we will face. Teamwork doesn’t just happen because someone mouths the words in a huddle.

Helen Keller once said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Learning to embrace the process and helping student athletes appreciate that is one of the many things I enjoy and get excited about as a coach. I’m very thankful for the relationships that I have been able to build with student-athletes, parents, other coaches, and referees. I’m looking forward to another season and the many things I know God will teach me as I embrace the process and encourage others to do so.

About The Author

Nick Orduna is the former Head Girls’ Basketball Coach at Lincoln Christian (NE). Orduna retired from coaching in 2020 to spend more time with his family, including his first grandchild. He is currently the Student Ministries Pastor at Heritage Bible Church in Lincoln. 

Orduna took over the girls’ basketball program in 1995 and left the position in 2002, after the Crusaders won the Class C1 championship, to focus on commitments toward his church. He returned in 2008 for what may have been the program’s best run. His 2015 and 2018 teams finished third at state, while his 2016, 2019, and 2020 teams were runner-up, and his 2017 squad won the C1 state title in convincing fashion.

Orduna left Lincoln Christian with 306 career wins. He also was named the Ralph Beechner Coach of The Year three times by the KFOR/KLMS Sportscasters Club. A 1988 graduate of Lincoln Christian, Orduna was a shooting guard on the Crusaders’ Class C2 state championship team, the first state title in school history. He later played college basketball at Nebraska Wesleyan.

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