A matter of balance: Pioneer basketball star Eric Coblentz juggles life’s challenges


Senior guard Eric Coblentz lives anything but the typical college lifestyle. There are no video games or crazy adventures, only life with his family.

When he isn’t making game-winning 3-pointers, putting up 20 point-plus games or doing his homework, Coblentz is at home spending time with his year-and-a-half old son Cohen and wife Briana.

Senior guard Eric Coblentz shoots a 3-pointer over the Waynesburg University defender in an 84-60 win on Dec. 10. Coblentz for the season is shooting 39 percent from beyond the arc. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

For Coblentz, also a business major, every day is a challenge and a matter of balance between class, basketball and taking care of his family.

For instance, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays there are not a whole lot of breaks for Coblentz despite having only one class.

Typically those days start with Hebrew at 9:00 a.m., lifting at 10:00 a.m., then back home to take care of his son until 4:00 p.m., practice, home again after practice to do homework and again to be with his family.

For Coblentz it is all a matter of balance, but the hardest thing for him is not being able to help provide for his family during season.

“It can be tough sometimes to balance it all, but the hardest part is wanting to be able to provide for my family but not necessarily being able to,” Coblentz said.

Something that being a father has taught him about basketball, though, is having perspective. Even when Coblentz is hitting a late game-winning 3-pointer like he did against Central State University on Feb. 2 or when he comes up short he knows his son doesn’t know.

“Honestly I think that just knowing it doesn’t matter what I do on the court or what I don’t do because I am still going to go home and my son is still going to love me,” Coblentz said. “My son is not going to care about what just happened. He is going to want to play with his dad and I think that is the most important thing I have learned — that basketball is not everything.”

Speaking of his son, Briana and Eric are expecting another little Coblentz to be running around soon, with the new kid being due on March 6. The sex of the new baby is not yet known as they decided to wait to find out until the day of his/her birth.

In fact, by the time the newest addition to the family is Cohen’s age, the new boy or girl will have a whole different experience than his/her brother did. The reason being because Coblentz said that he and Briana plan on moving to Haiti in July after he graduates.

In Haiti, they will be taking over a girls orphanage ran by Coblentz’s older brother Jared as he and his wife come back to the United States to pray and find out about what direction they are going to go next.

To find out more about what Jared is already doing in Haiti, follow his blog at

[pullquote]I think Eric is committed to loving God and loving people in whatever situation he finds himself,” Walker said.[/pullquote]

Coblentz already has a repertoire with the girls as he has been to the orphanage before and has been to Haiti about four or five times on mission trips.

He said going back to Haiti and living there is something he and Briana have always thought about doing and that now just seems to be the right time with God calling them there.

“Before me and Briana even started dating or anything, we had both been to Haiti before and we both absolutely loved the people,” Coblentz said. “So we both had said before we got together that we want to move back there someday and it is just awesome how God works things out.”

According to Coblentz, they seriously started thinking about it as a reality about a year ago. Just a few weeks ago, after lots of prayer, they made the decision to go.

Coblentz said he is excited to go back to Haiti because he has such a huge heart for those people, wants to further develop relationships with them and wants to help develop their relationships with Jesus Christ.

“I just love the fact that they don’t need much and they just love the Lord,” Coblentz said. “For us, going down we are looking after the girls at the girls orphanage and we want to be fathers and mothers to them. But at the same time we also want to build relationships with people and try to provide opportunities for them to tell people about Jesus and for them to build relationships with others.”

Besides his missionary work and his life as a husband and father to Briana and Cohen, Coblentz also has a large impact on the Pioneers men’s basketball team.

He is one of only two senior leaders for an 11-12 squad and he leads the team in scoring. He averages 17 points per game on 46 percent shooting, which has alleviated a lot of pressure from the younger players.

“There is no question he has had a significant impact and he has allowed some of our younger guys to develop by being the leading scorer every night,” said head coach Tim Walker.

Senior Eric Coblentz takes a family photo with his wife Briana and his year and a half old son Cohen. Coblentz said what he likes to do for fun in his free time is play with his son and be with his wife. (Photo courtesy of Eric Coblentz)

Coblentz may have impacted some of his younger teammates by taking some of the scoring load, but he also has been a true example of what a person of God looks like.

“For me, personally, I consider Eric as one of my best friends and someone I look up to a lot for his leadership on the team and his faith in Christ,” said sophomore forward Cory Veldhuizen. “He is definitely someone I consider a role model and he has encouraged and challenged me immensely since I came to Malone last year.”

Coblentz obviously leads a life quite unlike your average college student or student athlete, yet he remains grounded and entrenched in his values and his faith. He gives credit to his family, but he said the majority goes to Jesus Christ.

“Ultimately it always goes back to Jesus and that he is the one who does it (shapes us),” Coblentz said. “Yeah we give credit to us that have instilled those values in our lives, so I give that credit to my parents and my brothers, but ultimately it is about Jesus and how he has impacted and changed my life.”

One of Coblentz’s favorite verses to remind him of how only Christ has the power to truly change us is one he often heard from former teammate Ebiowei Porbeni. The verse is found in Ezekiel 36:26 and it says how God will take a heart of stone and turn it into a heart flesh.

Sometimes people say if you are to know somebody and who they are ask the people who know them well about their character. It is clear the people around Coblentz think highly of him as Walker described Coblentz in one sentence as being a man who follows the Lord’s greatest commandment — loving God and loving others.

“I think Eric is committed to loving God and loving people in whatever situation he finds himself,” Walker said.

Chris Sherwood is sports editor for The Aviso AVW.

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