In 2009, the Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles Men’s Basketball team—led by former head coach Donnie Bostwick—brought home the first NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship title.. “We felt like we were the best,” shared alumnus Sadiel Rojas, “and that confidence, with faith, kept us from breaking late in close games when adversity came all year.” With record-breaking stats, Rojas and teammate Steve Briggs were two key players in accomplishing the dream of an NAIA championship win. For both Sadiel and Steve, the best part of that moment was the team—their closeness on and off the court, and the feeling of accomplishing that championship goal together. Briggs and Rojas will be inducted into the OKWU Sports Hall of Fame for their individual career achievements—along with the entire 2009 Championship team and coaches—during Homecoming & Family Weekend, October 28-29, 2016.
Graduating in 2011 with a degree in Business Marketing, Rojas had plenty of fond memories to share from his time at OKWU, but of course many revolved around one common thing: his passion for sports. Briggs graduated from OKWU in 2010 with a major in psychology and recounts the greatest lessons he learned from his time at OKWU: “Always have faith and believe in yourself,” he commented, “and, most importantly, God, and then always work hard and be thankful for the little things.”
Looking back on their time at OKWU, Briggs and Rojas have great advice for today’s OKWU students. “Don’t take your time at OKWU for granted…” says Rojas, “You will be grounded spiritually and held accountable by your peers, faculty, and staff, and that is something you cannot put a price on.” Both men remember many who helped and encouraged them along the way—from Dr. Piper and Marci Piper, to Coaches Bostwick, Molder, and Peterson, to professors like Professors Andrews, Vieux and Hughes.
Since graduating, Rojas and Briggs have both pursued their love of basketball and used it to impact a younger generation. After playing professionally for a time, Briggs started his coaching career with a basketball skills training program that not only helps younger boys learn new skills to play the game, but also helps them develop into young men of character. Rojas embarked on a similar journey, and in 2009 started his own non-profit company, iRebound Youth Enrichment Foundation. Sadiel also continued his basketball career, first in the NBA D League, winning another National championship with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, and currently, with a record-breaking team in the ACB of Spain and the national team of the Dominican Republic.
While both these men have incredible athletic achievements, the wisdom they chose to share with today’s OKWU Eagles athletes is simple: be humble and work hard. “Work hard at your sport and believe in yourself no matter what anyone tells you,” Briggs commented. “Put God first and be humble. There’s never any reason to feel special because you excel in a sport; just appreciate the fact that people want to watch you play.” Further emphasizing the importance of playing for the right reasons, both Briggs and Rojas encourage the Eagles to always put the glory of God before any play or win – reiterating their team motto #ForHisGlory.