St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus volleyball team will take off on a nine-day trip to the Central American country of Nicaragua, beginning on Monday, June 9 when the team departs for Managua – Nicaragua’s capital and largest city.
“We are less than a week away from departure and the team is excited for the opportunity to take a foreign trip together,” said Head Coach Rachelle Sherden. “Our journey will include playing in foreign matches, giving back to the community through service activities, and exploring Nicaragua in a number of adventurous ways.”
The Gusties’ nine-day tour will be centralized to the South Pacific Region of Nicaragua where they will make stops in the cities of Managua, Granada, and San Juan del Sur.
To go along with the educational experience of being immersed in a Central American culture, the team will also spend time giving back to the community through volunteer work. On June 10, the team will volunteer with Terre Des Hommes – a non-profit organization that offers education, organized sports, and dance classes to street kids. On June 11, the Gusties will travel to San Juan del Sur where they will teach English to school children through the El Carizal English School. Also on Wednesday, the squad will visit the community of El Carizal where it will meet a women’s co-op known as Condimentos Del Carizal. The mornings of June 12 and 13 will be filled with a pair of volunteer opportunities at either a Mobile Library or with the Barrio Planta Project.
“Our community service efforts will foster growth in our relationships because we will be together 24/7 volunteering, working, and exploring in a completely foreign setting,” said Sherden about the service-learning aspect of the excursion. “Our time in Nicaragua will instill new world perspectives and open our minds through hands-on experiences in a culture opposite of our own.”
Earlier this spring, the Gustavus volleyball team began a fundraising effort entitled, “Backpacks For Nicaragua.” Because of poor school conditions and the instability of local economies, Nicaraguan children have less than adequate school supplies. Backpacks were identified as an item of great need in many of these impoverished areas. Thanks to the team’s outstanding fundraising efforts, it will be able to provide more than 250 backpacks, school supplies, and other sporting good items to Terre Des Hommes.
“The backpack drive was amazing and we more than surpassed our goals,” commented Sherden. “My office is literally filled with stacks of donations from backpacks to school supplies to numerous sporting goods. The players put great deal of hard work and effort into this and I can’t thank them and the community enough for helping Backpacks for Nicaragua become a complete success.”
In the midst of volunteering, sightseeing, and serving the Nicaraguan communities, Gustavus will also take part in three friendly matches against the Nicaragua National Team. On June 10, 13, and 15, the Gusties will face the Nicaragua National Team in Managua, San Juan del Sur, and Granada, respectively. Friendly matches are used as “teaching moments” versus “winning and losing” moments by the Nicaraguan teams.
“This is an experience of a lifetime for these student-athletes and it is sure to broaden their perspective on volleyball and sport because we are playing against foreign teams in very non-traditional environments,” Sherden said. “The players have worked hard throughout spring drills and it will be fun to watch them compete in such fun and exciting settings.”
To track the Gustavus volleyball team’s trip through Nicaragua, please follow the link below to the team’s Facebook page where it will be chronicling journey through blogs and pictures.