Josh Alabata with the Hinsdale Adventist Academy men’s varsity team. Credit: Amelia Kern

September 29, 2022

Living a life of purpose

It was the end of the first full high school basketball season since the start of the pandemic and Hinsdale Adventist Academy (HAA) Lady Hurricanes and their coach were celebrating another championship season. This scene was not one that Joshua Alabata saw coming.

In 2010, he graduated Andrews University into a tough job market and moved back home to Chicago. Josh would search for jobs during the day, and play basketball at his alma mater, HAA, during open gym in the evening.

One night at open gym, Josh was approached about being a teacher’s aide and accepted “because I needed some money.” In addition to working as a teacher’s aide, Josh immediately began volunteering as the coach of the junior varsity basketball team. Ultimately, he landed a job in his field of study—internal communication for a company in the dairy industry.

Josh spent his days in the office while continuing as a volunteer coach in the evenings. Nudged by a need for change, Josh started reading "The Purpose Driven Life" during his lunch break. After some self-reflection, he started to realize he enjoyed coaching more than being stuck in the office. “I was praying about it, that it’d be great to do this [coaching job] full time.”

One morning while on his way to work he was praying for a change in his employment. Shortly after arriving at work, Josh was informed his company was eliminating positions and he was being let go. “It kind of sucked, because now I don’t have a job, but it was an answer to prayer.”

Newly unemployed, Josh worked odd jobs here and there, all while still coaching at the academy. After a few months, he went to visit a friend in Miami with the intent of moving there permanently. But shortly after his arrival, he learned that his cousin passed away.

Josh returned to Chicago for the memorial service. “That weekend at church, the principal at the time approached me and said, ‘The position for Athletic Director is open, and we think you’d be a perfect fit.’”

Since becoming head coach for HAA men’s varsity team in 2011 and the ladies’ varsity team in 2015, Josh has amassed five conference championships and three tournament championships. In 2018, he was the recipient of the The Clyde Newmyer Leadership Award at the Andrews University Newmyer Classic.

“Through coaching,” he notes, “God has taught me to trust in Him during both the highs and challenges of life, ultimately knowing that He wants me to be victorious in the end.”


Elijah Horton is a Chicago-based writer.