SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – In every state and every sport, the varsity level is the stage a high school athlete hopes to one day soon compete at. But sometimes its what happens before you get to that point, that leaves the deepest impact.

Today you’ll find Stephen Oswald here in Sioux Falls coaching the Lincoln JV baseball team, but this past summer.

“I went on a 48 state road trip across the whole county by myself essentially meeting people I had met through TikTok and I made it somewhat of a mission trip in my own organic way,” Lincoln JV head baseball coach Stephen Oswald stated.

After Playing baseball at Roosevelt and graduating from the University of Indianapolis, Oswald got in involved in coaching, took a break during his odyssey across the country, then decided to give it another try, this time with a whole new approach

“I got asked by a player, Osi why do you tell us not to swear so much? And I said you know what, I don’t do that a whole lot anymore. I used to a bunch but not really, I didn’t give them a reason really and one of them came back with what, do you know God really well now? Do you go to church every Sunday now? I was like to be honest, yeah. Yeah, I do,” Oswald remembered.

After discussions with several of the players on the team, they decided to form a group that now meets weekly where they openly talk about each other lives and their faith.

“The respect difference, it’s like all equal here. Like anybody can talk about whatever they want, speak about whatever they want. It’s not, I have to stay quiet when coach is talking kind of thing,” Lincoln junior Ethan Wasmund said.

Through the months the meetings have begun to deepen relationships and build a sense of trust.

“Knowing Osi personally and stuff, if that’s what he thinks is best, that’s probably what’s best,” Wasmund said.

And after starting the season with a 1-3 record, the team has now strung together 13 straight victories.

“When you get a group of dudes who are selfless and care more about the team than themselves, it’s going to be hard to stop you with some good talent in there,” Oswald said with a smile.

The Lincoln varsity will play tomorrow against O’Gorman while the JV will play this Thursday against Brookings.