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A Tiger's Tale: More on Hantouli and Wilson

How two University of Missoui volleyball standouts keep God the center on the court and in their lives.
By Susie Magill

She still recalls the day she got the news. A mix of emotions began churning inside. Amanda Hantouli had already made up her mind, she wanted to play volleyball at Michigan State, but now that decision wasn’t as clear. The coach she had committed to play for, to rally for, had resigned.


 “At the time, it was a big mess,” said the 6’2” middle blocker. “I had to choose a new college in a month and ended up picking the University of Missouri. When I told Megan that I had committed to Mizzou and we were going to the same school, she was so excited.”


Megan Wilson had been Hantouli’s teammate on the Nebraska Juniors club volleyball team since they were 15. But unlike Hantouli, Wilson’s road to Columbia, Missouri, had been paved flat. Her older sister, Nicole, was already playing for the Tigers, so the decision to choose MU was automatic for the versatile hitter.


It seemed second nature at the time, but the choice to play for Mizzou has reaped rewards for both players, greater than either could have imagined.


Wilson and Hantouli both began their relationships with Christ at a young age. Wilson did so after watching The Sound of Music with her family. Toward the end of the movie, several Nuns confess their sin of sabotaging the German officials’ cars in hopes of giving the von Trapp family more time to flee the country.


The then-six-year-old Wilson began asking her father questions regarding sin and forgiveness. He explained the concept of knowing Christ and that through His sacrifice we can ask for forgiveness of our sins. And right there, in front of the television, Wilson gave her life to Christ.


Hantouli was 12 when she surrendered to Christ. Her mother was a Christian, but her father was Muslim. It was his questions regarding the Christian faith that sparked Hantouli’s interests. And after learning more about Christ, she too decided to live for Him.


Once they arrived at Mizzou, both girls continued cultivating their relationship with Christ and each other. Even though they had been teammates in high school, the 45 miles separating their hometowns had prevented a deeper friendship.


“We really didn’t know each other in a close way, she was just another teammate,” Wilson said of Hantouli. “But now, who would have ever thought that our friendship would turn into this.”


Wilson and Hantouli are not just friends and teammates, but also roommates, accountability partners and both serve on Mizzou’s FCA leadership team. With the busy schedule of a Division I athlete, spiritual growth can be a challenge. But through the ministry of FCA, the girls have found a place to be rejuvenated and plugged back into His Word.


“The comfort of having other people within the athletic community attending the same meetings and having a common belief is refreshing,” added Wilson, who, along with Hantouli, is a part of the FCA game crew that organizes the Huddle’s icebreakers. “FCA is just a good reminder that, ‘hey, this is what I’m living for.’”


This same reminder brings Hantouli back into focus on the court when her level of her performance is less than desirable.


“Little things will run through my mind during a game, in between points,” recalled Hantouli, who started in all 30 of the Tigers’ contests during the 2007 season. “And my initial reaction is, ‘oh, that was dumb. I shouldn’t have done that.’ But then I remember that my family doesn’t love me less, the Lord doesn’t love me less, and I move on.”


It has been slightly more challenging for Wilson to shrug off such mistakes during a game. Last season, she struggled at finding her niche on the front row and due to injuries on the team, she was constantly switching positions. In a sport that is known for the specialization of players, Wilson felt she was starting over from scratch.


“I didn’t feel I was ever reaching my coaches’ expectations,” said the redshirt senior. “I would be stuck in a drill forever because I didn’t have the experience that the other outside hitters had. I would be worn out mentally and physically.”


Being unsure of her fit within the team took its toll on Wilson’s confidence. The learning curve was huge and adjusting seemed all but impossible. But as friends do best, Hantouli had her back.


When Wilson came home frustrated and about to hit her breaking point, it was Hantouli who gave the needed encouragement. “Megan, you know you are an amazing player,” she reaffirmed. “You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.”


And liken to Scripture, the power of life was within those words (Prov. 18:31). Before she knew it, Wilson was living out what Hantouli had spoken. She became more comfortable across the front row in all three positions, adding to her performance throughout the season.


“Now, I love being able to play any position,” said Wilson. “Before, if I was struggling outside, my coach would take me out. But now, he can move me to the middle or the right side. He has confidence in me because I have played every position.”


Yet, as Hantouli attests, the stress of a season isn’t simply limited to the game. At times she finds the weight of athletics and school to be too much to bear. But through constant communion with her Heavenly Father, her burden is lifted.


“I can’t tell you how many extra hours on top of what I already do that I spend in prayer between August and December,” she explained. “There are several times where I just fall to my knees in the middle of my room because I’m frustrated or feeling the pressure of volleyball. I just humble myself before God, and when I get done praying, I am overcome with a peace of mind. I can just let things go and hand them over to God.”


These teammates don’t just push each other within the realm of their sport. They also have a high level of accountability with one another within their social life. Making sure their actions and decisions are lining up with God’s Word is a huge area of focus between the two.


“People learn a lot just by watching you,” commented Hantouli. “So the fact that you don’t see us going together to the kind of parties with certain people is huge. Just the way Megan and I conduct and carry ourselves is a big deal, especially to our teammates.”     


Wilson agreed, “Accountability is the biggest thing for us. Amanda and I have the same beliefs and interests— not getting caught up with sex and drugs and alcohol because we have so much more to live for in honoring Christ.”


And that sums up the duo’s mission at Mizzou: Above all else, bring glory to their Lord.


“Walking into the locker room can be discouraging, but I know we are getting to influence our teammates’ lives,” said Wilson. “I hope they see Christ through me by the decisions I make and the way I talk. That I am honoring Christ in all I do.”

--For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.

Copyright 2007 Sharing the Victory Magazine

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