The baseball team spent a portion of Christmas break on a mission trip in Nicaragua. A total of 41 people, including players, parents and coaches participated. The trip lasted a week, Dec. 16-23.
Head coach Dr. Patrick McGaha said he worked closely with Dr. Andrew Baker, director of the Mitchell Center for Leadership and Ministry, to plan the trip and coordinate equipment transportation.
“This was a dream that Dr. Baker and our coach had,” redshirt junior outfielder Jack Thomas said. “He has always wanted to take a team on a mission trip, and I think this was just where two words collided that we could do something like this.”
To prepare for the trip, the team collected old uniforms, hats, gear and other unused supplies to give to players in Nicaragua. Once they arrived, the team held baseball clinics for youth, played games in different towns and distributed sports equipment along with Bibles, senior pitcher Reed Roberts said.
“Baseball for me is more than just a sport,” Roberts said. “It connects people in ways you don’t understand; it’s very universal. Being able to use our sport and then give it a Christian message, that makes it more powerful to me.”
McGaha said the team had to cancel some of their projects and plans due to the large amount of rainfall during the week. On the last day, the team met the U.S. ambassador at the U.S. Embassy, visited local markets and went zip lining. Above all, Roberts said his favorite part was getting to connect with the Nicaraguans.
“For me, one person that had the greatest impact was this guy named John,” Roberts said. “He’s messaged me on Facebook since then and has told me just how much we have been a blessing to him and everyone. Little things like that really show how amazing God is.”
Thomas said one of the biggest challenges he faced was the language barrier and not having all the team members on the trip. That being said, Thomas is forever grateful for the opportunity to visit the country and the experiences he had made.
“I would like to express our gratitude, on behalf of all of us that got to go, to those that supported us financially and through prayer to go and to have a successful trip,” Thomas said.
Due to NCAA regulations, the team is only able to take one foreign mission trip every four years but is planning on keeping contact with mission opportunities in Nicaragua, according to McGaha.
“I think any time you have the chance to connect people, do it,” Thomas said. “A lot of the time people call it just a game, but that could not be further from the truth. It’s a lot more than a game, and I think we were able to see that while we were there.”
The team recently began practicing for their upcoming season. Their opening game, a doubleheader is at home on Feb. 3 against Missouri Western State University at noon.
Written by Sarah Brister and Sports Editor Emily Faulkner