This story appears in FCA Magazine’s November/December 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
Hometown: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
• Summit League All-Academic Team (2016)
• Summit League Academic Honor Roll (2016)
• Summit League Distinguished Scholar Academic Honor Roll (2015)
• FCA Honor Athlete (2014)
“... Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!’” – Nehemiah 8:10
Ellie Benson joined South Dakota State’s volleyball team in 2014, following in the footsteps of her parents, who both were student-athletes for the Jackrabbits. Benson was raised in a Christian home and became involved with FCA at an early age. As the lone senior on this year’s team, Benson encourages her teammates to live their lives for Christ while growing in her own faith through FCA Camps, mission trips and the campus Huddle.
FCA: How do you attempt to impact your teammates with your faith?
EB: I really want to encourage people to know Christ. This year, I’m just so encouraged because there’s so many freshmen who come to church and FCA. I feel like I’m able to be a leader of that both on and off the court. My faith drives all aspects of that. I’ve prayed about that since I was a freshman, just to have people come to a place where I can help them grow and they help me grow. It’s been super encouraging.
FCA: What do you want people to see when they watch you play?
EB: I am a very competitive person. I hope people see that, but I also hope they see the passion for sports in sync with a passion for Jesus. Whether I win or lose, I want it to remain consistent that people can see Christ through me on and off the court.
I met so many kids at FCA Camp in the summer, and I know they’re watching me. I want to be a good example to them and show Christ to them. We just need to be the same whether we’re playing or we’re at church. If someone lived with you for a week, would they know you’re a Christian? I just absolutely live by that.
FCA: What has been your favorite memory with FCA?
EB: The mission trip to Belize with FCA was probably the most amazing experience for me. I was able to go with my friends, other Christian athletes, and my two brothers, Cole and Austin. I was able to grow with my peers and my family and make a difference in that country (by providing clothes and supplies to an orphanage and hosting a three-day Bible study and basketball camp). To come back, and be able to talk about it with the people around me, it was wonderful.
FCA: Why do you believe FCA is important?
EB: FCA has just been such a big part of my faith journey. My faith is what has helped me get through volleyball and nursing school, being able to draw my strength from that.
It’s so important to be connected with other Christians because you can grow with each other and strengthen each other. You’re going through the same or similar experiences, so it’s really good to be in fellowship with one another. FCA has changed my life with the friendships I’ve made and the way I’ve made my faith my own. The opportunities it’s given me to go on mission trips and work with kids—it’s had an amazing impact on me.
FCA: As a senior, how do you want to honor God with your final collegiate season?
EB: There’s so much more I want to be known for than just a good volleyball player. I want people to know I’m a Christian and my faith is so important to me — that it’s what drives me to compete and have excitement and energy on the court. After volleyball is over, I’ll be sad that part of my life is over, but I will still have my faith. I hope to continue to be involved with FCA, and I’m looking forward to the things to come in the following years.
FCA Staff Quote:
“Ellie has a heart for God and people, and it shows in how she cares about her teammates and friends. She is a positive leader on her team and someone others can go to for encouragement.”
– Kristy Carlson, South Dakota State FCA Women’s Ministry Coordinator
Brookings, South Dakota
Photos courtesy of South Dakota State Athletic Communications