EUGENE, Ore. – They were simpler times. Without a gym to call their own, the NCC men’s basketball team played home games at O’Hara Catholic School. Road games remained mostly along the I-5 corridor. They still wore short shorts. While the location and style have changed, one thing that most certainly remains from the glory days is a focus on the importance of character and leadership in building great teams.
Now it is emphasized within the NAIA’s Champions of Character initiative. In the early 1980’s it was simply a way of life for the Crusader basketball team. Many banners hang in the rafters of the Morse Event Center as a tribute to the legacy that was set forth by those teams, including the first two NBCAA National Championship teams in 1983 and 1984.
At the heart of those teams was Team Captain John Tastad. A hustling defender and a hot shooter, Tastad brought a blast of energy to the court for four years. He was twice named the team’s Most Inspirational Player and Hall of Fame Coach Dave Lipp considers him to be the best team captain he ever had.
Tastad has twice been inducted into the NCU Hall of Fame himself as a member of those first two championship programs. His best memories of that time, however, have little to do with what transpired on the court, a testament to what a strong leader he was for his teams. He said, “As a four-year member of the program, it was the friendships that were forged during my time at NCU that I remember. They were, and many still are, fun and heart-felt connections of support and encouragement. I’ll always remember Coach Lipp and how he provided a clear example of integrity, faith, loyalty and hard work.”
After graduating in 1984 with a degree in Youth Ministry, Tastad aimed his energy and leadership toward churches. He built a large, winning youth program at First Christian Church in Coquille, Oregon and after the passing of the Senior Pastor, John served as Acting Pastor before moving to First Christian Church in El Cajon, California.
Over six years, John seeded and sustained another large youth program, and once again eventually shifted to Senior Pastor duties. Then in 1992 he moved on to shepherd East Hills Christian Church in suburban San Diego, guiding the church through a relocation and numerous seasons of growth.
Then, with a renewed and focused calling, it was time to move on to a new endeavor. Tastad said, “As an associate pastor and senior pastor in the local church it became clear to me that the components of ministry that allowed me to have the most significant impact on the lives of others were pastoral care and counseling.”
Tastad received a Master’s degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling from the University of San Diego and was hired as a staff chaplain with Sharp Hospice Care, a large integrated healthcare delivery system in San Diego with five acute care centers and a number approaching 18,000 employees. In that role, Tastad was assigned as the bioethics liaison for the company and began to serve on bioethics committees within Sharp’s network of affiliate hospitals. I was also asked to teach bioethics to new employees and volunteers at Sharp, which in part led to his eventual move to his current position as the Coordinator of Advance Care Planning.
In his current role, Tastad oversees a team that works to implement a comprehensive advance care planning program, promoting person-centered conversations and a highly reliable approach to proactive healthcare decision making. “The combination of spiritual care and bioethics involvement equipped me for the work I now do,” he said.
Tastad has served in his current role for 15 years and in that time has become one of the leading end-of-life ethicists in his field. He has remained steadfast in what he admits can be a challenging field. He said, “Bioethics, end-of-life care and advance care planning are all challenging areas of service that have highly emotional attributes. It can be difficult to process the myriad emotions that arise, but companioning the dying and supporting people who are facing difficult health care decisions is also extraordinarily gratifying. It feels good to be fully present with people along an important stretch of their journey.”
This week Tastad returns to campus to take part in a number of activities during Homecoming Week. On Friday at 3:30 p.m., Tastad will address the Keynote Session of the Grace and Truth Forum in the Evans Chapel on the NCU camps. The forum, titled Come Alongside: End-of-Life Care and Preparing for the Unexpected, will also feature Dr. Thomas McCormick (NCU ’56), a noted scholar and lecturer at the University of Washington. The forum will cover ethical dilemmas, advance care planning, grief, forgiveness, and hospice trends.
Tastad will also address a regional meeting of pastors and church care teams and will speak alongside McCormick at NCU chapel services on Friday morning at 11 a.m.
On Saturday, he will receive the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in the NCU Banquet Room at 10:00 am as he is recognized for his unique contributions to the Church and the healthcare field.
Tastad is also looking forward to lacing up the sneakers once again to participate in the annual Men’s Basketball Alumni Game at 4:00 pm.