When Martin Schiele crawled out of the emergency door of his overturned school bus, he had no idea his prospects for playing Division I basketball had ended. Schiele and his Griffith High School (Indiana) teammates were headed to compete in a semifinal state basketball game on March 19, 2016, when another driver accidentally sideswiped the bus causing it to roll over twice into a ditch on I-65.
Miraculously, everyone survived, and the game was rescheduled for four days later. As the star guard, Schiele led his team to a near victory — they lost by just two points — but the worst of the pain was just starting. Schiele had unknowingly torn his ACL in the bus accident, and after playing on his injured knee, he required surgery.
As Schiele’s Division I recruiters got word of his injury, all but one of his offers evaporated. The night before Schiele’s surgery, Jim Kessler (BS 70), Grace Men’s Basketball head coach, called Shiele. “He called me at 11 p.m., and we talked for like an hour and 45 minutes,” remembers Schiele. “He just wanted to talk to me about life and care for my well being. A lot of schools look at you as a price tag or a ticket to success, but not Coach K. He believed I could make his team better by being me.” Grace offered Schiele an athletic scholarship a week after the accident. “In fact, it was the day after my surgery,” marvels Schiele.
Schiele will enter his senior year at Grace this fall as a two-sport athlete in basketball and track and field, where he earned 2019 NCCAA All-American honors and currently holds two school records in the 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay.
There’s not a hint of disappointment in Schiele’s voice as he recounts the impact of the bus accident on his future. “I’m at Grace because of that accident,” he says.
One of the reasons Schiele is so confident in trusting God with his journey is because he saw his grandmother do it. “She was a Christ-advocate,” enthuses Schiele. Because his parents worked a lot, Schiele and his sister were often at their grandmother’s house, who lived next door to them. “Granny was my best friend. I told her everything.” She taught Schiele how to cook and clean and how to bowl and to pray.
Even though Schiele idolized his grandmother and knew Christ was the reason for it, it wasn’t until his grandmother died unexpectedly, that he made the decision to surrender his whole life to Jesus. “Her death was the lowest point in my life,” says Schiele, who was a sophomore in high school at the time, but it motivated him to make the most of every day. Two years later, when he survived the bus accident, he never doubted that God would use it for his good and God’s glory.
Although acclimating to Grace’s culture was difficult at first, he’s convinced it’s been the best place for him. “I came from an all-black, public school. Although I was born and raised in the church, I know I would have filled the voids in my life with the wrong things if I had gone to a public university.” Schiele says at Grace, where he’s in the Blended Program, pursuing his bachelor’s in management and his MBA, he’s been able to develop personal relationships with all of his professors, and through the sports program, he’s had life-changing service trips to Florida and California.
“I’d never had an education where faith was at the center. It’s changed my view of the Bible.” When Schiele couldn’t find the space in his schedule to include a Biblical Studies minor, Schiele says Dr. Tiberius Rata, professor of Old Testament studies, mentored him outside of the classroom, providing him resources and tools to learn how to study God’s Word. “He’s really helped me a lot. He showed me God’s Word is a love story over a historical book.”
Now Schiele is vigilant about making the most of every day God gives him. “I ask God daily to help me make an impact on those around me. A lot of people want to see the world around them change, but they never do anything to create that change. Whether I’m on the court or track or in the classroom, I want people to know me for my faith,” says Schiele.
Without the death of his grandmother and his near-death bus accident, Schiele isn’t sure where he’d be — definitely not at Grace, he muses. “Where I’m from, if you make it to 18, you’re lucky. I’ve lost a lot of friends to gun violence. So every day I ask myself before I go to bed, ‘Did I make an impact on someone’s life?’ And every morning I wake up, I’m blessed to see another day.” – from grace.edu