Three Groups of Football Scholar-Athletes Give Back on Spring Break
Davidson football is getting back in the swing of things, about halfway into their spring practice schedule before closing out March. But before they put the pads back on, members of the football team spent their spring break putting in work off the field and serving others, a centric value to who and what Davidson Football represents.
One of the groups and the sole trip made of just members of the football team was to Birmingham, England.
The trip was led by Jorell Story (’20) who works with Campus Outreach at Davidson. Aside from sightseeing, the group made up of Nick Baker, Miles Davis, Luke Durkin, Quentin James, Jalen Jefferson, Ryan Loveday, Dylan Sparks, Bernard Turner, Eli Turner, Jayden Waddell, Coy Williams and JD Woodall were able to work with students at the University of Birmingham on the field.
Their second day overseas was full of a camp with two of the American college football teams in London. The camp was two hours long and Davidson student-athletes ran through drills with them, bringing the intensity and spirit of competition out of the teams.
“It was really cool running through drills, in the middle of a muddy park,” Eli Turner said. “It was also a humbling experience in that regard just to see people who didn’t have the greatest gear or facilities but to see how excited they were to play the game and for us to be there and learn from us was very humbling.”
The group spent about five days with the team at the University of Birmingham with countless film and Q&A sessions, practices and incorporated ideas from Davidson into their own style of “coaching” overseas.
“It was a pretty humbling experience because obviously we’re not professionals but taking that and realizing that we have the power to impact how they view the game and what direction they take with the game in the future is so incredible,” Eli Turner said. “Spreading that knowledge to them and them being open and receptive and excited to learn from us was a really cool experience. It was so much fun.”
Uvita, Costa Rica
Another service trip was to Uvita, Costa Rica where six football players along with six members of the women’s soccer team and another Davidson student worked with an organization called Refugio Solte, a place of rest, renewal and training for current and emerging leaders of God’s kingdom.
Barclay Briggs, Jonathan Hammond and Bradyn Oakley were three of the scholar-athletes on the trip who spent the week terracing out the side of a mountain to allow the people at Refugio Solte to plant and grow their own fruits and vegetables. The long-term goal is for them to become totally self-sustainable.
“It was an incredible opportunity to serve people who we wouldn’t have the opportunity to serve in our day-to-day lives here and spend time in a place that not a lot of people get to spend much time in,” Briggs said.
Hammond said the most difficult thing on the trip was breaking through the language barrier, but noted that as long as they tried and put in the effort, that’s what mattered.
“The people there were so cool and it’s amazing to meet people from different parts of the world, who you think are going to be completely different from you but realize there are so many qualities you share with them,” Hammond said.
“Barclay is really good at Spanish so that helped, and our missionaries are fluent, so if we just try, that’s what means the whole world. Both sides are then able to connect, which is something that felt good.”
Oakley said relationships and perspectives were his biggest takeaways on the trip.
“It was an awesome experience bonding with everyone, and a great environment to build and form relationships along with furthering my relationship with God,” Oakley said.
Something that stuck out to him the most was the difference between North Carolina, where he was born and raised, and Costa Rica.
“Here you have the beach or the mountains on opposite sides of the state, but I was in the ocean and looked back and saw mountains right there. That was a cool representation of understanding the perspectives of God and it was a good reminder that not everything exists in the Davidson bubble or my hometown bubble.
Being able to serve and basically turn a whole mountainside into a carousel platform for sustainable and grow agriculture for the future and know that our impact will be able to help future people that go to that house means the world,” Oakley said.
All the Davidson scholar-athletes on the trip made relationships to last a lifetime, with each other and within their faith.
Pipeston, West Virginia
A third trip that saw three Davidson football scholar-athletes was to Pipeston, West Virginia. Rodney Wimbush, Kellyn West and Malik McDaniel are all members of the Bonner Scholars Program at Davidson who went with the group to help those in the community who needed it.
“We did three different projects,” McDaniel said. “We helped a man do some work on his trailer after his house burned down. We cleaned up and put down new flooring painting at his place. Then we helped another woman, a single parent with two kids, we helped her paint and clean up her place. She had a lot of land, with an area that we cleaned out, painted and put roofing on the barn. Then we helped her parents with some yard work around their house like cleaning up and putting down some gravel.
The group of about 25 Bonner Scholars were able to not only find a way to give back on their spring break, but form connections they otherwise wouldn’t have with their classmates.
“It was cool getting to meet and getting to know the other Bonner Scholars more because I haven’t hung out with them outside of meetings,” McDaniel said. “It was cool seeing us – a football player who grew up in America and someone who goes to Davidson from Malaysia – us hanging out and getting along.
“Just building those relationships with everyone else was incredible. We’re very different but it was cool to hang out and get to know each other more.”
But aside from those newly formed connections, McDaniel said it was nice to know they were helping people who really needed it, despite any differences they may have had.
It was good helping these people out because I feel like we always put what we want to do or our needs above everything else, so it was just good to put someone else’s needs above ours,” McDaniel said. “The most important thing to me was helping them out despite the differences we probably have and making a difference in their lives.”