More than just a game

Ava Maria’s all-state player gives her all. (Submitted photo/Lewis Perkins)

While many people struggle balancing work and home life, Katie Ringdahl, a full-time business major at Ava Maria, balances school work, basketball practice and volunteering. Katie, winner of the 2015-16 and 2016-17 Sun Conference award, was recently chosen as one of the members of the 2017 Allstate WBCA (Women’s Basketball Coaches Association) Good Works Team. This honor is not for college athletes who demonstrate superior skills, this award is for athletes who give back to the communities that they serve. Last week Katie flew into Dallas, but she did more than play basketball. Along with nine other Good Works Team members, Katie volunteered at a local hospital’s children’s ward. “It’ was thrilling watching the kids, as sick as they are, get excited about tossing a ball back and forth.”

Originally from Gainesville, Katie’s biggest inspiration is her father, a head coach for high school girls’ basketball. “My dad and I are similar,” Katie says as she recalls her father always taking her to practices. “I basically learned to walk on the {basketball} court. I’ve been playing since I was five.” However, her father taught her more than how to play basketball, he instilled the importance of God and taught her how to give back to the community. This molded Katie into the compassionate person that she is today. Besides spending time with school work and basketball practice, Katie volunteers 20 – 60 hours a week at Immokalee High School and Immokalee Middle School where she helps students grow academically and spiritually. Katie helps students with everything from doing community service with them to helping them with GED and SAT prep. Katie, who has a minor in education, proclaims: “I love working with the kids in Immokalee. Although they have very little they have amazing hearts”.

Katie has also been involved in Young Life Ministries since she was in 7th grade. Young Life Ministries is an organization dedicated to building Christian faith in today’s youth by offering clubs and camps. Not only is Katie still an active member, Katie reaches out to help students of Immokalee go to one of these camps. She loves talking about her faith, but more importantly, her selfless life is a prime example of Christ. Furthermore, Katie volunteers for Rerun Sneakers, a program dedicated to “donate lightly used running shoes to aspiring runners in underprivileged areas”.

With all of this on her plate, it’s easy to see that Katie’s biggest stress, is that she has no time. However, I think if somehow there were more hours in a day, Katie would spend them giving more to the community. When asked if she plans on staying in this area after she graduates, she replies that “It’s up to God”. In the meantime, Ava Maria and Immokalee should feel blessed by her interminable outreach toward the community. Although most people know Katie for her great basketball skills, her skills at making a change in the lives she touches is far greater. In her own words: “Look at what’s {problems} around and change it {them}.”

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