top of page
  • Jacklyn Baker

Faith Through the Storm

As a high school superstar with academic excellence and a list of athletic awards that would sting your ears, I thought I owned the world coming to Cornell. I came into Newman Arena with an ego, knowing I had to beat out whomever I needed to get that starting spot. Some people might have defined me as driven, hard-working, and determined, when in reality, I was selfish, prideful, and conceited.

Now I bet you are saying to yourself: “I thought this was about faith.” As I go through my story, I want you to notice that even through all of these struggles and hardships, God was with me. He was faithful to me even though I couldn’t have cared less about Him. It wasn’t until I humbled myself and had nowhere else to turn that I allowed Him to pour His grace and mercy into me.

After I got the starting spot and was awarded all-tournament during the preseason, I felt like I was flying and could do it all. What I didn’t see at that time that I so clearly see now is that I was living for MY OWN glory. My whole identity was volleyball; everything simply encircled it. I was a hard-working student in high school solely so that I could play D1 volleyball someday. When I got here, I had no true passion for my classes or the activities I did outside of volleyball. So here I was, starting for Cornell and being successful. All the work had paid off, and I MADE IT… but little did I know, I was in for a rude awakening.

On a splendid Saturday afternoon, we were playing Columbia in the first set when their outside hitter went up and hit a hard cross shot where I was playing defense. I dove down to dig it, but something went wrong. The ball snapped my hands back, and my wrist hit the floor just as the ball was hitting me. SNAP. I screamed in pain. Two days later, I was sitting silently in the waiting room while the doctor bought back my MRI results, looking into the eyes of my coaches and trainers, knowing nothing was stopping me from playing the game I poured my whole life into. The results looked questionable, but the doctors knew I wouldn’t stop playing, so they simply advised precautions and sent me on my way.

The next day, I was back in practice with a fat brace on my wrist, and if you know anything about being a libero or passing, you know that your platform can’t be uneven… so I was at a loss. The ball wouldn’t go where I angled it to. I wouldn’t put out my left hand to try to reach a ball out of fear of more pain. I remember getting a hard case, a soft case, and a few other inventions my trainers configured. The tidal wave of confidence that always overflowed was now boiled down into a shallow puddle of “fake it until you make it.”

I remember my coach turning to me and saying, “What do you think?” That is a loaded question, Coach. I thought, “Nothing will stop me from throwing on my kneepads and putting on that jersey.” So, life resumed as usual. I continued performing well and ignored the pain until I got sick.

I wasn’t sleeping that much, wasn’t taking care of my body, and I remember laying in bed every morning with fatigue that outmatched any conditioning workout I’d ever done. I took vitamins C, D, E, and LMNOP, and nothing worked. One symptom would come, and another would go. This went on for days, then weeks, and I stopped performing well and got pulled. The worst thing about it wasn’t losing my starting spot: it was that I was RELIEVED. The only thing I cared about my whole life was volleyball, and I didn’t care anymore. My body was failing, and I didn’t tell anyone because of my pride. I thought I could do it on my own. I went home with nothing to give and had fallen out of love with my lifelong passion. “Who am I?” I would ask myself. During all that time of struggle, pain, and suffering, I didn’t even see myself as someone worthy of wearing the jersey and representing this school. I thought this was it for me, and that I was a failure.

But then, on January 4th, 2022, I was saved. I got hit with an overwhelming love that poured out over my mind, heart, and body. I was saved from what I thought of myself because I decided to put my faith in God. My identity was redefined by this overwhelming love I had never known before. I thought my circumstances defined me as a person, but I found out that day that God calls me by another name. I called myself worthless; He called me worthy. When God interceded, He saved me, restored my health, and gave me a new purpose. So, my faith is entirely in Him. It was tested within the same month when I visited the emergency room, where my body failed me again. When I came back to Cornell, instead of leaning on my own understanding and being prideful, I put my faith in Him and asked for help.

I have faced trials and tribulations, but I have learned to put my faith in no one else but Jesus. You might say I am crazy, and if this is crazy, then that is what I am! I am a witness and living miracle of His work because, in the past months, I have gone through car crashes, concussions, chronic pain, and traumatic family experiences. Still, panic and helplessness did not overwhelm me then and won’t now because I know I have a hope and a future. I am known, I am loved, and He has plans for me. Now I get the blessing to spread the miraculous work of God’s glory and tell people about what He has done in my life. I run to my Father in Heaven in my struggles, whether it’s frustration, sadness, difficulty, or fear.

Being an Ivy League student-athlete and persevering is hard, but this is not the end. I love learning in the classroom now, I actively pursue community on Cornell’s campus and Ithaca College’s campus every week, and I have regained my love for volleyball. My body is healed and I have peace, joy, and love even through hardships. And the best part: this is just the beginning of my story.


Recent Posts


bottom of page