Nebraska Athletes Spend Break On A Mission

BY:  Ian Hest

Some college students spend winter break relaxing at home…others head for warmer climates. But some Nebraska student athletes spent part of their break in another country playing and helping little kids.

We're not sure yet if these kids will emerge as the Husker stars of tomorrow. But for now, they will always remember the Nebraska student athletes that came to the Dominican Republic to spend part of their time off with them.

They're called student athletes but what about “difference makers.” That description might be more fitting for several Nebraska student athletes who spent a week of their winter break in the Dominican Republic playing with young children on a mission trip.

UNL Junior Emily German says, “They truly give back to you and teach you so much more, not only about what to be grateful for, but also just about myself and who I am and what's important to me.”

The trip, organized by the non–profit, Varsity Catholic, focused on bridging the gap between playing and praying. Kay Stewart says, “Loving them in a time where they can just put their other things aside and to just love on you and love the sport and find god within the sport.”

Boys and girls played baseball and volleyball. Many playing with actual equipment for the very first time. Trevon McGill says, “We had 40 or 50 kids come out on a daily basis just because they love the game and they have passion for the game which was really neat to see.”

Varsity Catholic aims to mentor student athletes and teach them life skills. Director Thomas Wurtz says trips like these really bring the message home.  “In your heart you know it's an important thing and when they ask for it, when they desire it, and when they have experiences like this where they're growing, it's completely fulfilling. It keeps you motivated; it keeps you inspired to continue to show up everyday,” he says.

In total 29 made the trip not only from Nebraska but New Jersey, Wisconsin, really all over the country. And they're already back to work trying to plan more trips coming up to Cuba and Santa Lucia.