Relationships, faith key to basketball star’s success

Hesston College sophomore Makayla Ladwig

When asked to describe her schedule at Hesston College, sophomore guard Makayla Ladwig, Wichita, Kan., describes a full plate, one teeming with relationships, challenges, opportunities and faith formation that intertwine with her commitments as a student athlete. Ask anyone who knows Ladwig and they will tell you that she goes about her day with a grace and maturity well beyond her years. Her well-roundedness, above all, has endeared her to the Hesston College community.

Ladwig is visible on the Hesston campus in many ways. As a resident assistant she mentors and engages other students in the dorm. As a member of Hesston’s Inclusion and Diversity Council she seeks ways to nurture relationships across campus. As a nursing student immersed in clinicals and labs she is moving rapidly toward her career goals, and as the top returning scorer and rebounder on the women’s basketball team she is being counted on to lead this year’s squad.

In all of these areas, relationships are the common denominator that turns a busy schedule into a rewarding and life-changing college experience, Ladwig says.

“Makayla is an incredible person,” said Rebecca Eichelberger ’14, Geneva, Neb., Ladwig’s freshman year roommate. “She’s dedicated to bettering herself in her coursework, basketball and her daily walk with God. Makayla is a good listener who cares about people and will do anything to help. She has been an inspiration to me.”

“Makayla’s desire to know and learn from people from all backgrounds is evident in every interaction she makes,” said Jill Schlabach, resident director. “She cares deeply for people and sees their potential.”

“It’s my job to make sure the students in my dorm are included and have opportunities to get involved with campus life,” Ladwig said. “I sought the RA position because I wanted to be in a leadership role – one that extends my circle of interaction and gets me more involved outside of nursing and basketball.”

So why start at Hesston?

Introduced to Hesston through the college’s summer basketball league, Ladwig was impressed by the nursing program’s credentials and head coach Dan Harrison’s ’79 recruiting pitch.

“Makayla is a special individual who happens to be a gifted athlete,” Harrison said. “She came to Hesston to pursue her call of service as a nurse and was attracted to our approach of making basketball part of a balanced life that encourages our players to pursue their dreams both on and off the court.”

An all-region honorable mention pick a year ago, Ladwig averaged 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game on last year’s 15-win season. She is part of a deep sophomore class that Harrison will lean on in the coming months.

Beyond the classroom, dorms and basketball court, Ladwig finds time for campus activities, campus worship and other peer interactions. At the mid-point in her Hesston Experience, she is still looking for opportunities to engage the campus community.

Having a full plate has been rewarding yet stressful at times. Each of Ladwig’s responsibilities carry a natural ebb and flow that, when all converge, make for a seemingly unmanageable schedule. Support from family, friends and college staff keep her grounded. Most of all, her faith keeps her afloat.

“Trusting in God is the only reason I’m able to juggle being an RA, basketball, nursing and the rest of my college life,” Ladwig said. “He has taught me what it means to take up my cross daily and follow him; to trust him with each moment and know that he is with me and within me. Through the struggles of my difficult days, my faith in God and motivation to do more has grown.”

Harrison recognizes how special Ladwig is to his team and the campus. “We’re blessed to have her representing Hesston College as a student athlete and a servant leader preparing to make a difference in the world as a follower of Christ.”