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Basketball leads through missions

Alan Samson

The Shorter women’s basketball team is taking their annual mission trip to a new location this year. The team historically takes time out of the year to go to St. Vincent and Union Islands with Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cartersville, Ga. This year the women’s team will be travelling to Anchorage, Alaska, as part of Tabernacle’s efforts bring basketball to their missions in a new location.

“We are going to Anchorage this summer to lay the foundation,” said head coach Vic Mitchell. “We will be putting on basketball clinics,  holding Bible studies and doing community service while there.”

The team started going on mission trips in 2012 when Mitchell and Tabernacle Missions Director Steve McCombs were connected in the fall of 2011. Tabernacle had a relationship with the people of Union and St. Vincent Islands when they talked to Mitchell about bringing basketball along for the mission trips.

“They wanted us to join them, and we shared interest with Tabernacle,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell explained how Tabernacle wanted to bring basketball into their mission plan.

“Basketball is big on the islands, but cricket is the most dominant sport,” said Mitchell. “But basketball was already there, and it was a way to share what we knew as part of their mission.”

The team travels to the islands and organizes drills, pick-up games, clinics and Bible studies. They go to the schools and read to the children as part of the community service side of the mission trip. Players come together and grow closer during these trips to the islands, according to one player.

“It brought our team together, and it was refreshing,” said senior guard Kristin Nash.

The islands are poor, and the slightest gifts bring the children unmeasurable happiness when the players and coaches bring them from home. Hair bands, bracelets and wrist bands positively affect the attitudes of the children.

“Hair bows and wrist bands are the smallest of gifts, but they bring the children so much joy and our players really get something out of seeing the smiles they bring,” said Mitchell.

Only returning players go on the mission trips over the summer, so upcoming freshman girls and transfers must wait for their second year to experience the trips. This year being the first time the team will be going to Alaska means that it will be an entirely new experience for everyone involved. They will be setting the ground work for this and many more mission trips to Anchorage. The focus will be to share the Word, create a working relationship and teach through basketball.