What does it mean to be a Lion at ENC?

ENC houses 12 athletic teams and has great pride in the efforts these athletes put towards their sports both on and off the field or court. Their dedication is a commitment to not only themselves, but to their teams as well. The student body of ENC represents the Christian university everywhere they are, ranging from sporting events, to the classroom, to attending shows in Cove auditorium for theatre. They represent the college at sporting events regardless of whether they are playing or are in the fan section; the sports teams show the light of Christ by their actions on and off the field.

Dr. Brad Zarges, Athletic Director and an instructor in the Sports Management department, stated what he believes the meaning behind the slogan “defend the den” is, along with what he believes it takes to be a Lion. He explained that being a Lion here at ENC has many components that go into it. He said every school has a so called “Lion’s Den,” but ENC’s is a little more special. ENC believes in having a positive environment at sporting events where the other team can leave after the game and say, “I want to come back to this facility and play here again.”

What is the meaning of “defend the den?” It goes beyond any sporting event, musical, or even classroom environment; it is how students carry themselves and represent and support their school, stated Zarges. When Zarges was being interviewed for the position of Athletic Director, he came in having the desire for people to know that the ENC community will never put their heads down in any type of shame. The idea is that through ENC pride, like a pride of lions, the community will be able to know who they are. ENC might not have all the bells and whistles that other schools possess, but there is an atmosphere being created which encourages heart and commitment for one another. Having pride in the way that the people of ENC carry themselves and having pride in the effort that they put into their relationships with each other are the memories that Zarges hopes students will want to have during their time here at ENC as part of the Lion’s Den; he hopes they will continue to foster this after graduation as well.

“The Lion’s Den is everywhere; it goes beyond a basketball game, beyond a soccer game. It’s anywhere our students, faculty, staff, or even alumni [are], it’s a portable thing. The Lion’s Den is everywhere that we exist as representatives of ENC,” Zarges continued to explain. “Your pride is not based on your result. It’s on the small things that build towards a pursuit of excellence.” This is now one of the pillars of the athletic department. 

To Zarges, the Lion’s Den is not about a place: it’s about a mindset. This mindset is easier to see and recognize at sporting events, but it can also be seen in other areas. This mindset is about defending what is yours. The Lion’s Den is home. The Lion’s Den is the ENC community; everyone who is a part of that community represents it in all they say and do.  

Zarges has enjoyed seeing change in how ENC acts at sporting events since his first year. In three years, he has noticed that the people from the ENC community in attendance went from saying too much to the opposing team and being down right disrespectful to realizing that their goal should be: to represent Christ in everything they say and do. Fans are now more focused on supporting their own teams rather than belittling others.

Zarges strongly believes that what it means to be a Lion defending the den is that the ENC community needs to be the type of people who represent Christ.  Fans can do this by being crazy loud, having a blast, and being engaged in whatever we are doing in support of our peers and the people around us. The ENC community is united in pride, defending each other and supporting their opponents.