Steven Gidley- Director of Sports Information and Business Relations IWU

When looking at IWU volleyball’s 2019 season, there is no question that senior setter Alex Falcone played a major role in the Wildcats’ success.

Two years after transferring from Greenville University, and seeing limited time a season ago, the Sellersberg, Indiana native flourished as the team’s primary facilitator in 2019. 

In all 40 Wildcat matches this season, Falcone was the cog in the IWU machine, recording 1,618 assists and 93 kills. Likewise, she was active on defense, finishing with 286 digs.  

Regardless of sport, many great players experience some kind of adversity, and Falcone was no exception. Before she experienced the peak of a breakout senior campaign, she spent some time in the valley.

After two disappointing years in Greenville, Falcone transferred to IWU in the hopes of a new beginning. In her junior season her playing time was limited. She appeared in just 23 matches, which led to a loss of confidence in her volleyball abilities. 

On top of Falcone’s stresses on the court, she suffered losses off the court as well, as her best friend passed away unexpectedly, shaking her to her core.

With her world seemingly crumbling, Falcone made a brave choice to spend time in Florida last summer receiving crisis counseling.

And it turned her life around. 

“I struggle with a lot of depression and anxiety, and it just got to a point last year that I needed to be down there,” Falcone said. “It saved my life and it changed my life.”

While receiving counseling, the Lord kept placing one word on Falcone’s heart – “defined.” We as human beings tend to define ourselves in worldly ways, such as how much money we make, the kind of clothes we wear, how good we look, and how other people feel about us. “I was defining myself by the way I played, my grades, what people said about me, and what people thought about me,” Falcone said. “That was pretty much my whole life. That’s how I was defining myself.”

But through a pair of concepts known as Little T-Truths and Big T-Truths, Falcone’s outlook on her life completely changed. 

Little T-Truths, as defined by Falcone, are lies that Satan says about you or that others say about you. For example, Little T-Truths tell you things like:

“You are not good enough.”

“You’ll never be successful as some of your peers.”

“You are not worthy.”

Big T-Truths, on the other hand, are what God says about you, according to Falcone.

“You are loved.”

“You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

“I have a plan for you.”

That subtle change made all the difference. 

“That’s really helped me,” Falcone said. “I’ve written all of my Big T-Truths out, and when I start to go through that thought process of ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not worthy of love,’ I just have to read back through those truths and know what God says in the Bible and know what he says about me. 

“Throughout that whole experience, I just came away with the fact that God was telling me, ‘You shouldn’t let anything else define you but Me, because I’m the only one who tells you who you are. I created you, therefore, I am the only one who has that authority to tell you who you are.’” 

Before the season got underway, Falcone made another brave choice – share her story with her teammates.

Talking about something that personal is never easy, especially in front of a group of peers, but the reaction to her story was overwhelmingly positive. 

“I got up there and told them about everything that was going on, and the support that I got from it was incredible,” Falcone said. “I actually had two or three people stay afterwards and say, ‘I struggle with this too.’ I never would have known if I had not shared.”

Her teammates rallied around her, and through her testimony, they connected with one another in a deeper way.

“She has been through the ringer, and she has come to the stage of accepting and owning her story,” middle hitter Allison Sparrow said. “She’s voiced where she falls short and where she needs to be uplifted and when that needs to happen. It’s just helped us as a team to be able to know where she is at and to be able to support her through that. I would say this year, more than ever, you’ve been able to see the light of Christ radiate through her and the story of redemption that has been played out through her.”

That bond carried over to the regular season, as the team grew closer on and off the court with each passing contest. 

“That was really cool – just having that support with everyone and knowing that I could be open and vulnerable about my situation,” Falcone said. “It really opened up a door for me to create relationships with some of the new girls and create relationships with people that I wasn’t as close with.”

Armed with a new resolve after a summer of healing, Falcone returned to IWU a changed woman. She no longer listens to the outside noise or defines herself in the game of volleyball. 

Rather, she defines herself in Christ, and as she prepares for the next stage of her life’s journey, she plans to continue to do so after her collegiate career comes to a close. 

“After senior year, volleyball will be over for me,” Falcone said. “If I am defining myself in volleyball, than after I’m done and after it’s all over, then what am I going to be defining myself in? That was a big part of it – rooting myself in Christ and knowing that I am defined in that and not defined by these other things.

“It’s always going to fall short if I define myself in anything besides Christ.”