Jinelle Siergiej is one of the pioneers of the modern women’s hockey movement. Growing up, she mostly played with the boys and even spent her varsity years on a high school team that won back-to-back conference championships in Wisconsin. After winning two NCAA championships at Wisconsin, she became a key member of a Team USA squad that won the silver medal at the 2010 Olympics.
In this CSJ conversation, Siergiej talks with managing editor Chad Bonham about the topic of confidence from a biblical perspective:
Chad Bonham: How would you define confidence?
Jinelle Siergiej: I would define confidence as being full of trust or belief in yourself. When one knows they have done their best and can walk away with their head held high it does not matter what the outcome is. Confidence is the assurance that you both have prepared yourself in every way and then have done the best you can. Confidence is acceptance of who God made you to be and then doing your best. Being trustworthy and believing in your hard work and preparation and you will walk away with your head held high no matter the outcome. I would say confidence is all about having faith and not doubting.
Bonham: Who in your life has taught you about confidence?
Siergiej: My husband Mike has taught me confidence by the way he carries himself on a daily basis. He never cares what others think about him and he is who he is no matter his surroundings. He is great at complementing others in areas that they are gifted in or need to hear an encouraging word. He truly is a confident man and it shows daily.
Bonham: What does the Bible say about confidence?
Siergiej: I believe that God calls us to be confident by not being anxious. Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” God calls us to be confident in our faith and believe in what God calls us to do. He uses an example in Mark 11:23: “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.” God is not telling us to go move mountains. God is calling us to be confident and believe that if we believe in God that this can happen. Lastly, God is very straight forward in Philippians 4:13 and says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Bonham: What can we learn about confidence through the life of Jesus Christ?
Siergiej: Jesus believed and had faith that anything was possible. Jesus was confident in all of his answers to those who doubted him or who were looking to kill him. He quoted scripture to defend the forces of Satan from entering him. The faith that Jesus had is one that we can only aim for. There was no fear or doubt in his heart. He was 100% on board with God’s plan even if it meant Jesus dying on the cross. Although Jesus did not want to die he knew that God’s plan was greater than his. He then moved forward confidently in God’s plan and died for us.
Bonham: How has confidence applied to your life as a professional athlete?
Siergiej: Confidence has always played a huge role in my athletic career. I grew up in a family of six and three competitive siblings who challenged me in everything I did. I never felt like I was good enough but always had a competitive drive to work hard everyday. This was applied the most when playing high school boys hockey. I was never confident in my hockey talents to be good enough and then when it came to being a high school girl I didn’t have confidence in how I looked. I always looked to my girlfriends or teammates for something I felt like I didn’t have. I was jealous of the guys for their hockey talents, and jealous of the girls for their looks or boyfriends I didn’t have. Moving forward I finally realized that God made me the way I am and that I am perfect just as I am. I started to not focus so much on what I didn’t have but rather what I did have. I was a talented female athlete and I succeeded in almost any sport I played. I went on to college and then to the Olympics realizing that when I didn’t focus on what I had but rather take the gifts God has given me and use them for him. This was the turning point in my relationship with God and my playing career.
Bonham: How does confidence impact other areas of your life?
Siergiej: Confidence impacts my life on a daily basis. Being confident of the woman, wife, sister, daughter, friend, and coach that God has made me to be. Rather than doubting or wishing I could be something or someone I am not, I need to be confident in who I am and who God has made me to be.
Bonham: What is your encouragement to other athletes and coaches as it pertains to confidence?
Siergiej: I would like to encourage any athletes to first think of different areas that God has gifted them in? I then would ask them to think of talents that they wish they had to build their confidence? Why would having that specific talent give them confidence? I want them to first understand that God has made each and every one of us unique. If we had everyone on our team gifted as a goalie we would never score any goals. If we had a team full of goal scorers but no defense we would have to score more goals than the other team to win the game. In the same way God has given each of us different gifts and talents to compliment each other. I challenge you to first find your own confidence and then be who you were made to be rather than trying to be like someone you are not. I love this quote that says “Go confidently in the direction of your dream, live the life you have imagined.”
(Photos: Team USA)