From high-security prisons in the Dominican Republic to the Estadio Hijos De Mayo en Villeta, Paraguay, Wheaton athletes and coaches who participate in global travels cite the relationships they build with people they meet and the strengthening of relationships with one another as highlights of their time abroad.
J. Cesar Gomez, assistant coach of Wheaton’s women’s varsity soccer team, says that global travels help foster team unity in a way no other experience can.
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“We traveled abroad as 23 individuals, and came back as one team,” he says. “When we came back from Paraguay in 2007, we won 27 straight games.”
After traveling to Paraguay and Brazil in 2007 and 2013 and to Senegal in 2010, the women’s soccer team plans to visit South Africa in 2016. Wheaton’s 2015 Football Ministry Partnership Program included trips to Winterton and Capetown in South Africa and Santiago in the Dominican Republic. Players completed manual labor projects and enjoyed building relationships with locals through sharing meals and playing against one another in sports tournaments.
“The highlight of the trip for me personally was when we got to play a basketball game against the inmates at a prison in the Dominican Republic,” Daniel Puknaitis ’16 says. “The opportunity to build relationships with many of these forgotten men was an experience I will never forget.”
Brittany Smith, head coach of Wheaton’s women’s varsity volleyball team, will take her team to Israel in August in hopes they can “be a positive example of Christian women leaders and to support the women in this area.”