Practice Makes Perfect … Really!

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Imagine this: It's the middle of summer, and basketball season is a long way off. You're one of the best players in the nation, a human scoring machine.
But you're still not satisfied. So you go to the gym, just you and your radio, and you start shooting baskets. And you keep shooting … and shooting … and shooting …
And you don't stop until you've made a thousand baskets. Not just a thousand shots, but a thousand baskets. Sweaty, exhausted, aching, you finally decide to call it quits. You look at your watch and realize you've been at it for four-and-a-half hours … Does that describe you? Me neither.

But it does describe Jackie Stiles, a small-town girl who hit it big because of her incredible work ethic.

Jackie was a legend at her high school in the small town of Claflin, Kansas (pop. 678).

The 5-foot-8 guard, a four-time all-state pick and a '97 grad of Claflin High, spent almost as much time in the gym as she did in the classroom.

You know the ol' saying, "Practice makes perfect." Well, Jackie took that and ran with it.

"She has taken practice to an entirely new level," says Jackie's high school coach. "I don't think she has ever spent more than one day away from a gym."

As a result of all that hard work, Jackie averaged 46.4 points as a senior, scoring a state-record 71 points in one game! She finished her senior year with 1,252 points and her high school career with 3,603 points.

What's all that practice gotten Jackie?

First, it got her a college education—a scholarship to Southwest Missouri State University, where she averaged about 20 points a game last season as a freshman. Her college coach says Jackie is "the hardest-working human being I've ever seen. I've tried to kick her out of the gym, and it's impossible. Good problem."

Second, and more importantly, it's given Jackie a mindset that will help her for a lifetime: Hard work does pay off.

That's a lesson God wants us to learn. After all, it's in the Bible:

"Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically" (Romans 12:11, NLT).

Hmmm. See ya. I'm off to the gym.
Juan "Junior" Flores Junior was a three-sport standout—football, baseball and basketball—at Reagan County High School in Big Lake, Texas. He was a second-team all-district pick in football, where he played fullback and linebacker. He was also an honorable mention all-district pick in baseball. Junior, who will attend the University of Texas at San Antonio in the fall, has also been a leader in his church youth group. "Jesus is not only my Savior, he's also my best friend," Junior says. "I know I can tell him my problems and he'll take over."


Alissa Platz Alissa excelled in three sports at Grace Christian School in Benton Harbor, Michigan — volleyball, basketball, and softball. She graduated in June holding several school records in volleyball, and she was an all-conference pick in both basketball and softball. Alissa, who will attend Northland Baptist Bible College in Wisconsin, loves working with children and wants to teach physical education and be a coach after college. "Jesus Christ is the only thing worth living or playing sports for," says Alissa, "because nothing else in this world can get you into heaven. My goal in sports is to shine for him, as he tells us in Matthew 5:16."

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