Post image for Marisa Rodriguez, University of Texas, Swimming

Marisa Rodriguez, University of Texas, Swimming

by carmine on December 2, 2013

My first breath was in Marshalltown, Iowa on a cold day in December. My parents have always told me that the minute I was born I was “screaming on top of my lungs”. From the very beginning, this revealed a lot about who I am. I’m outspoken, voicing my beliefs, and sharing my thoughts with anyone I meet. Being far from shy has been a great tool God has given me. We are all here to be disciples and spread the goodness of Jesus. My voice is meant to do just that.

Philippians 1:6

I had my first swim lesson when I was 3 years old. I continued on and by the time I was 5, my family moved to St. Louis, Missouri. It was in St. Louis when my swimming career began. I have two older sisters who swam as well, and the sport became a part of our family name. My parents were adamant on us never missing a practice, and they made sure we were striving to become the best. There was visible pressure when it came to academics and athletics, but our faith was always put first.

By the time I was in middle school, my club team held Sunday morning practices. At this point, the pressure of swimming was held by my middle sister, Caroline, and I. We would make it through half of our main set and then quickly jump out of the pool to make it to church on time (with wet hair). The talent God blessed my sister and myself with gave us the opportunity to travel all over the nation. As each year passed, we got quicker and quicker. When I was very young, I took in the medals and recognition without thought. Looking back, I was prideful and not acknowledging the gift God had given me.

Romans 8:29

When I began my sophomore year of high school, my sister headed off to California, to swim at Stanford. All of a sudden the person I looked up to, admired, and tried to imitate was gone. I felt lost and began swerving on a dangerous path. I didn’t voice my confusion to God when He was my answer. I wasn’t sure which friends to be around, studying was rare and practice seemed optional. It took me a solid year later to get plugged into an environment I needed.

1 John 3:20

It was in high school when I gave my life, whole-heartedly, over to God. Being plugged in with my youth group changed who I was for the better. My walk with Christ was on a strong road, and as a result this helped my swimming. Sharing Jesus and beliefs with others is the best feeling in the world. I was with friends who were strong in their faith, and we all kept each other on the right track.

Romans 10:17

When it came time to decide where I would go off to college, it took a miracle for the final result. I had verbally committed to swim at Notre Dame. However, I knew this was not where God wanted me. Nothing about this decision seemed right, and I felt miserable each time I thought about moving there. What happened next shows me the power of prayer. Since I was 8 years old, my dream school was The University of Texas. With that fall recruiting season, nothing was going to get me there. I kept praying, crying about my verbal commitment, and asking God to lead me. A few days before signing day, I talked with the head coach at Texas. After listing a million reasons why I wanted to be a part of the Texas team, I hung up the phone and told my parents I was a Longhorn. How did any of that happen? It was all God. He will never, never, never let us down if we have faith and put our faith in Him. He will always look after us. So we must hold onto Jesus. Our whole life must simply be woven into Jesus.

Austin, Texas became my new home after high school. I felt like I had everything I had ever wanted and needed. I found a church in Austin, was a member of the Texas FCA, and tried to not lose hold of my faith and values. I always, without a doubt, swam my races for God. He is first, and I am second. It has and always will be that way in all aspects of life.

With the commotion of competing for one of the nation’s highest-level programs, I lost touch in my personal relationship with Christ. He was blessing me with achievements that were only happening because of Him. I was failing to recognize the gifts He was giving me. This affected who I was, and I was nobody without Jesus. As time passed, I was on a rollercoaster of events and ended up in a scary situation that only God could pull me out from. It’s by His grace and power that I’m where I am today. My relationship with Him has never been stronger.

Psalm 40:1

We are all here for a purpose, His purpose. Each day I wake up acknowledging the fact that there is a purpose, greater than I know, as to why God has me here. There will be pain, suffering, hurt, and/or loss in everyone’s life. What’s crucial is knowing that you’re never alone. When you are hurting, when you are lonely, left out. Let Him cradle you, comfort you, reassure you of His all sufficient power and love.

My name is Marisa Rodriguez, and I am an Unashamed Athlete.

Psalm 62: 5-6


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