Civic Engagement

Preseason Costa Rica trip gives men’s basketball chance to play and serve

The Oglethorpe men’s basketball team just returned from a 5-day, 4-night trip to Costa Rica over fall break weekend, where they played two exhibition games against the Costa Rican national team, performed a community service project at a local community center, and took part in various cultural activities around Costa Rica.

The team spent time in the capital city of San Jose and in nearby San Carlos. They took a walking tour of San Jose and spent time at the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which feature an aviary and an animal sanctuary, and then in the San Carlos area, they hiked to La Fortuna waterfall, took part in a canopy zipline tour, and spent some time at a hot water springs beneath the Arenal Volcano.

On the court, they fell in the first game to the Costa Rica squad, 62-60, but came back for a 62-54 victory a day later in the second game.

On their final day in San Jose, the Stormy Petrels took part in a community service project at the 15 de Septiembre Children’s Center, one of five such facilities run by the Roblealto Child Care Association in at-risk neighborhoods around San Jose. The children range in age from 1 to 12, and are at the centers for 12 hours a day. While there, they’re given three meals a day and are provided with a safe place to learn and play. The Petrels purchased and brought art supplies, bilingual flash cards, books and toys to give to the children.

“We had an amazing time in Costa Rica,” said Oglethorpe head coach Philip Ponder. “The most important part of these types of trips is the student-athlete experience. The majority of our guys had never been out of the country. This trip allowed them to experience a different culture and see a different part of the world.

“The basketball games against the Costa Rican national team were secondary to the overall experience, but it was still good to get out on the court against some tough competition.

“The visit to the community center tugs at your heart and puts things into perspective, and is always one of the highlights. I think this trip brought this team closer together, and I hope this experience is one that guys will remember a long time after graduation.

“One of my favorite quotes that I always come back to is a quote from Mark Twain: ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.'”

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