SportsLeader is a virtue-based mentoring and motivation program for coaches. This blog shares stories from coaches all over the country transforming lives. For more information contact Lou Judd -

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Bringing My Team to Haiti

Some coaches won't miss a practice opportunity unless their life is threatened. Others like Kent truly understand what sports and life are all about. Please forward this to your players and parents ... what are you going to do to serve others?

By Kent Wright
Head Football Coach Lebanon High School, Indiana

I just got back from a life-changing trip to Haiti with 47 people from my team and school. We had 22 football players, 15 more members of our football family and 10 other teachers, parents, etc. I was blessed to be able to go with my whole family, wife and 3 kids.

Each person needed to raise $1,000 to be able to go. We had fundraisers, spaghetti dinners, benefactors sponsoring, churches sponsoring ... it was a beautiful show of support. Everyone was expected to at least contribute $300 of their own money as a self-sacrifice and a personal commitment.

We went in 2 groups for 1 week each. My son Jamason and I were the only ones to stay the whole time.

Our work there: build houses from scratch. We were blessed to have 2 Haitian contractors who did the skilled labor and we did the "grunt" work. I could not be more proud of our boys. Most groups that have visited Haiti in the past months have gone for 1 week and built 1 house. We built 6 stone houses in 2 weeks. 

The weather was well over 100 degrees every day. We worked every day except for Sunday. Haitians honor the Sabbath so we did as well. We went to a Church service in French-Creole ... understood nothing ... but learned a lot just by witnessing the fervor, prayerfulness, faith and joy of the people. We also gave the guys a well deserved trip to the beach. Haiti is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited.

This is in the tent camp. I visited twice and both times these 2 little girls asked if I could be there daddy and come live with me. At the Tent Camp, 5 families live in each tent, no windows just rubber canvas, every time it rains the tents get flooded, mud up to their knees. We also found people living in tents in the middle of the street splitting the traffic because all of the rubble.

My players talked about how the Haitain kids had nothing but they were the happiest kids they've ever seen, they just walk up and grab your hand. It was very moving how hospitable they were.

We had to tell them over and over "Don't deprive them of the joy of giving - accept what they give". I remember one little kid climbing a tree to get a coconut, then he takes out a machete, cuts it so he could give us some coconut juice because someone said they were thirsty.

1 in 3 kids go to elementary school ... 1 in 10 kids go to high school (7th grade up) - there are no public schools, just mission schools - they feed the kids 1 meal during the day and that is all they eat many times. Some parents don't feed the kids over the weekend because they know they'll get fed at school. As our players heard about this you could see that they were learning a REAL lesson in humility and gratitude ... realize what you have, be appreciative, give back ... 

One moment I think I'll never forget ... I was carrying a 5 gallon tank of water about 1 mile because we did not have electricity or running water ... I put it down for a minute to rest and then a 7 yr old boy grabs it, puts it on his head and carries it up the mountain for me about another half-mile - how tough these little kids are - The jar was about as heavy as he was. His heart was bigger!

Coaches, don't lose out on the opportunity to build the souls of your players. 

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