I grew up as the youngest of three children being raised by a single mother. As a tomboy I played numerous sports, my favorite sport being basketball and my favorite player being Kobe Bryant. My mom raised us in the church, and she was the typical strict African mom. My older sister began playing organized basketball in middle school, so I followed in her footsteps. I played recreational basketball for a while until I began playing with the Amateur Athletic Union in high school.  My family and I were not informed about the recruiting process, so I wasn't able to play on the best AAU teams. Therefore, I did not play in the best tournaments. Consequently, when my senior year of high school rolled around, I didn’t have any offers from any colleges at any divisions. As I applied to colleges, I kept in mind that I wanted to go a school that gave me the option of potentially walking on to the team.

"My older sister went to Elon University, a division one school, so I figured that I would go there and be crazy enough to trust God to take care of it. "

I became consumed with making the team. I finally got a chance to try out for the team, and I was placed on the practice team. About a month later, I was offered a spot on the team. However, I didn't travel with the team. In retrospect, I realized that, up until this point, I was using God as a good luck charm to get what I wanted. I definitely had faith, but once I made the team, I got comfortable and made basketball an idol. I was rudely awoken when I got kicked off the team after my freshmen season. I let basketball consume me, my grades suffered, and my coaches didn't think I should be part of the program if I couldn’t be consistent in the classroom.

I was so hurt. I kept asking God why He would allow me to make the team just for it to be snatched away. That summer, my grandfather passed away, and I went back to Cameroon with my mom. My time there was eye opening. I realized how blessed I was to have the opportunities that I had, and I saw how I was ruining them by trying to live for myself. At that point, I started to let go of my will and surrender to God. I was later placed back on the team. During my sophomore season, like I expect I didn’t get any playing time. However, I was fulfilled because of my relationship with God.

Towards the end of my junior season, my coaches took a chance and began to play me. God gave me the confidence to perform, play well, and by the end of the regular season, I was a starter. I had career games, and we had one of the best seasons ever in Elon's Women's Basketball history. At the end of the year, my coaches offered me a full scholarship for my final season. Entering into my senior year, I had high expectations. I worked hard during the summer and tried to position myself to be successful. To my surprise, the season was the complete opposite of what I envisioned. I went from being a starter to getting minimal playing time. Again, I was frustrated with God, and I asked why he would allow me to be successful the season prior just to take it all away from me. I realized that God had to teach me the lesson again.

"Basketball is just a tool for God to get the glory and for me to point to Him in my successes and failures. I realized that the way I respond to adversity is going to say a lot about how much I actually trust God. Now, I am currently taking things one day at a time and playing my role with excellence. I am leaning on His promises because I know He's in control."

My family has been a great support system. My mom is constantly praying for me and showing me different stories in the bible that related to my situation. When I get weak, I am encouraged by how much faith she has in God to do great things through me. He has never failed us, and she always reminds me of this. To anyone who can relate to my story as a walk-on or generally, I would say, do not measure your value to your team by only what you do on the court. All of my teammates wrote me letters for senior night. I was touched when I discovered how my story helped them in their walk with Christ and how my life has affected them. It's bigger than basketball.

-Josepha Mbouma

Psalm 116:5-9


Episode 3- Mbouma Feature

Welcome back to Elon everyone!! Check out this feature on Women's Basketball team senior, Josepha Mbouma-

Posted by Elon Phoenix Weekly on Tuesday, March 29, 2016