Elders Becomes Cornerstone University's First NAIA Hall of Fame Inductee
by Kristina Pierson
Twenty-five. On its own, it's just a number. For Coach Kim Elders, it's the number of seasons he has completed as Cornerstone University's head coach for the men's basketball team. It is also the number of years he has had the opportunity to invest in the lives of young men in the community. This legacy of commitment and focus delivered Elders to the 2019 NAIA DII National Tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., and secured his place as the first Cornerstone coach inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame on March 5.
"I'm honored, I'm humbled, and I'm grateful," said Elders. "All I can say is to God be the glory. He's blessed our program, and he's allowed me to be in this position and work with these young men. I've had tremendous athletes play for me, great staff, facilities and support from the administration."
Even before his run at Cornerstone, Elders was working in the lives of players as a coach for various sports programs at Freedom Baptist Academy. It was through his time at Freedom Baptist Academy that he connected with Cornerstone's former head coach, who brought him into the fold as an assistant coach for the men's basketball team.
"Coach E has been a staple of success on and off the court and has built one of the most respected programs not only in basketball, but in all sports offered at the NAIA level," said Aaron Sagraves, Cornerstone's director of athletics. "His passion for molding young men in their faith, academics and basketball has been special to witness."
At Cornerstone, athletics is about far more than the game. It's about glorifying God through displays of natural gifts, hard work and compassion for the people who make up a team—something Coach Elders exemplifies in his attitude toward coaching.
"Basketball is just the tool that allows us to get into our guys' lives and have devotions with them and pray with them, bring them along in their walk. We go on missions trips and do other things where we're actually having them practice their faith," he said.
As a former player and current assistant coach, Kyle Steigenga (B.A. ’19) has had a front row seat to the team's journey under Elders' leadership.
"There is no question that my ability to play basketball developed and flourished under Coach E, but more importantly I grew substantially as a person and in my relationship with God because of him," said Coach Steigenga. "Ever since I stepped foot on campus as a freshman, I learned how to live a life that honors God in everything that I do through the example that Coach E sets for his players. [He] taught me and my teammates many lessons beyond the game of basketball that will impact our lives for years to come."