This summer, the Gustavus volleyball team will travel to Nicaragua for nine days in early June. The team will travel to the cities of Managua, San Juan del Sur, and Granada to compete and provide community service.
In preparation for the trip, the team is collecting used backpacks from Gustavus students and faculty, as well as the St. Peter community for the “Backpacks for Nicaragua” fundraiser. The donated backpacks will be handed out at schools and in orphanages to children who do not have proper school supplies. So far, the team has collected over 100 backpacks to donate.
“We have been table-ing every Thursday. We have a drop-off site, you can drop it off outside of [Head Coach Rachelle Sherden]’s office or at the Info Desk, or you can give a backpack to any volleyball player,” Junior Alyssa Taylor said.
In addition to the backpack drive, the team will be actively participating in community service on their trip.
“We will be doing mobile library book distributions to children in rural villages, English and literacy lessons at local schools, like El Carizal, youth volleyball and sports clinics, art projects at the school for disabled students, and rehabilitation of either a church, school, or women’s health center,” Sophomore Becca Woodstra said.
As a team that actively participates in community service here in St. Peter, the team is excited to take their volunteer work elsewhere.
“It’s a way for us to give back to them, because they need a lot of things, but we just focused on backpacks because we thought that would be something that a lot of college students would have laying around and could easily donate,” Taylor said.
While in Nicaragua, the team will also compete in three or four matches against Nicaraguan junior and national teams. The Gusties will play two of their matches in a sports facility and another match will take place on a concrete court by the ocean.
“The matches generate a very energized and excited atmosphere down there, apparently hundreds of locals come to cheer both teams on,” Woodstra said.
In addition to community service work, the team will also partake in tourist activities as an opportunity for team bonding in the off-season.
“There’s an international trip every three or four years; it’s kind of a tradition. It will be a lot of team bonding, an opportunity to get even closer to each other and realize what we have is valuable here in the United States,” Junior Paige Breneman said.
The team will be collecting backpack donations through May 27. Backpacks can be dropped off in Coach Rachelle Sherden’s office Lund Center 225B, at the Lund Center Information Desk, at the Backpack Drive tables outside of the cafeteria on Thursdays, or given to any volleyball player.