Lisa Alexander entered Millikin as a physical education major with hopes of someday coaching at the college level.
For four years, Lisa continued her successful basketball career under the guidance of then Coach Harriett Crannell and even found time to play on the Big Blue softball team.
Following graduation from Millikin in 1983, Southeast Missouri State beckoned with a graduate assistant coaching position, and she embraced her role as recruiting coach. “I remembered what Walt Wessel did in my life and how it made such a difference,” she says.
After finishing her graduate degree, Lisa jumped at the chance to coach at Montana State.
Working under Coach Gary Schwarz, who averaged 39 points per game as a professional player in Europe, Lisa once again found herself in the role of recruiting coach – and often in the unexpected role of counselor to her young players.
Lisa began to examine her own life as well. A chance meeting with basketball legend Nancy Lieberman took her self-examination in a new direction.
After meeting at a conference, Lieberman asked Lisa to organize and run basketball camps for her. Lieberman was interested in developing people holistically – physically, mentally, socially and spiritually – an approach that resonated with Lisa.
A friendship developed, and during a casual conversation one day, Lieberman asked Lisa if she was a Christian. Lisa was forced to think carefully about the question and was surprised at the answer that arose within her.
One day, while sitting at a stop light, Lisa found herself uttering a simple prayer: God, if you’re there, I want to know you. And during her noon basketball scrimmage with other coaches, she played with an abandon that surprised her.
Her newfound faith wavered when Lisa felt God leading her away from coaching but was bolstered by an invitation to join an Athletes in Action basketball tour in Korea in 1988. Accepting this unexpected mission marked a first step in turning the recruiting coach into a recruiter for Christ.
A member of the Campus Crusade/AIA staff for 17 years now, Lisa has played and spoken from the heart in the farthest reaches of the globe, including the Czech Republic, Siberia, Thailand and the Muslim country of Kyrgyzstan, where she met her husband, Ravshan Uraimov, a three-time national boxing champion.
Currently living in Forsyth, Ill., with their son, Daniel, while Ravshan seeks his American citizenship, the Uraimovs are eager to return to their ministry abroad, this time with central Asia in their sights.
As they continue their work to transform stadiums into sanctuaries, their strategy is simple: “People look up to athletes as heroes; they need to see their heroes looking up to God.”
The complete article appeared in the winter Summer 2007 issue of Millikin Quarterly magazine.