SIGNS AND WONDERS ABOUND AT PHILADELPHIA COLLEGE OF BIBLE

By Al Mattei

Founder, TopOfTheCircle.com

It is difficult to find the Philadelphia College of Bible, except for a series of small green signs beckoning vistors ever closer to the campus.

PCB is located in Langhorne, Pa., in a neighborhood between two extremely busy highways and a commuter rail line, near the former site of a restaurant located in a vintage Air Force bomber.

But follow the green signs to the campus, and you see green grass, a large duck pond, and a sizable forest which is incongruous when compared to the surrounding busy life.

On this morning, the Philadelphia College of Bible field hockey team is warming up for a game in its own invitational tournament in this idyllic setting.

The Crimson Eagles are one of the last independent field hockey teams in the United States, having spurned NCAA championship eligibility to go for championships in the Philadelphia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (PAIAW).

But PCB will not be independent for long. The team is in the process of gaining NCAA membership, which is expected in time for the 2001 season.

"It's worth it, because you need a tournament to shoot for at the end of the season," says Philadelphia College of Bible coach Lori Sheets. "It's tough to go just for a (good) record, and it'll be good for the school, I think."

For those graduating in the Class of 2000, like captain Charlotte Reid, the prospect of playing for the NCAA Division III championship is a hope which will go wanting.

"I would have liked to have played for a championship, no question," Reid says. "The school's going to be strong enough, and it would be good to build up the program. We get a lot of good athletes here who want to study the Bible, but want to play sports."

Which, of course brings up an interesting situation that has plagued theologians the past few decades. Given Philadelphia College of Bible's membership in the National Christian Colleges Athletic Association (NCCAA), will membership in the secular world of the NCAA change the school's ideals?

"It's just the attitude with which you do it," Reid says. "If you go out there and your attitude is, 'I'm going to beat you because I think you're a jerk and you're not worth anything,' that's a lot different than, 'I'm going to go out there and I'm going to play hard because I have God-given talent, and I'm going to use it.' I think you should be competitive; if you have the ability, use it."

Sheets will be overseeing this change from independent to NCAA Division III, and hopes that the quest for wins and losses will not change her players for the worse.

"Our goal in going into D-3 is to draw students who are, first and foremost, committed to their Christian walk and committed in their relationship to the Lord," she says. "While our players are stepping out on the field to win field hockey games, our first priority is to use our ability in a way to honor and to glorify God."

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