Elaine (Bartosh, ’84) Smith joined very select company Aug. 25 when she became the eighth member of the Maranatha Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Simply put, I feel honored,” Smith said. “I am in awe to be pictured with the other inductees.”
The Maranatha Athletic Department established the Maranatha Athletic Hall of Fame in 2004 to recognize and honor student-athletes, coaches, and administrators who have made significant athletic contributions during their time at Maranatha and to the cause of Christ both in college and after graduation. Previous inductees were Dr. B. Myron Cedarholm, Dr. Richard Weeks, Ben Peterson, Dr. John Goetsch, Randy Peterson, Lori (Oestreich) Loftus, and Jerry Terrill.
Smith was a key player in volleyball, basketball, and softball during her four years at Maranatha. She earned the team’s Most Valuable Player award in each sport and was selected to the All-Lake Michigan Conference teams in volleyball and basketball.
Smith utilized leadership skills as well as athletic skills. Cheryl (Boucher, ’85) Harter fondly remembers her former teammate.
“Elaine was a fantastic leader and role model,” Harter said. “I don’t remember her accomplishments in specific games, but what I do remember is her attitude and leadership in practice, on the road, and in games. She led the team in singing and chants, but also had a fierceness about her when it came to the intensity of the game.
“She was always fun to be around … and had an amazing spike!”
Smith’s leadership service didn’t end at graduation. She taught and coached at Christian schools in New Jersey and Indiana, including the last 15 years at Martinsville (IN) Baptist Tabernacle. Smith teaches math, history, English, computer skills, and yearbook at Tabernacle Christian School and coaches volleyball, basketball, and softball. She has also raised three children and was a youth pastor’s wife for more than 10 years. Smith’s husband, Dan, is a former Crusaders football player.
The most important concepts Elaine Smith teaches to her students are the spiritual ones.
“I emphasize (to my students) that the Christian walk is simply that, a walk with Jesus,” Smith said. “Too many young people get caught up in thinking their Christianity is all the things they do right and all the things they abstain from and, somehow, that makes good Christians. Most, if not all, find a void. If the believer is abiding in Christ, then all that ‘stuff’ will fall into place. They will know Christ intimately. It took me a long time to grasp this. But, once I did, the Christian walk became Jesus and me!”
One of the most compelling reasons for intercollegiate athletics at Maranatha is the lessons student-athletes can apply to future ministry—lessons Smith learned in college and is now teaching her players.
“Whether it is a team sport or an individual sport, there will always be opponents,” Smith said. “Life offers much opposition. As Christians, isn’t it good to know we have each other? Sports offers a lot of character-building skills that are universal to daily life. God has given us the playbook as well as our teammates—other Christians—so we can draw from their strengths.”
--By Ariel Rosen