To fully immerse their athletes in the Kalamazoo College experience, Men’s Soccer coach Lumumba Shabazz and Women’s Volleyball coach Jeanne Hess have set up a trip that will take their teams to Trinidad and Tobago for community work over winter break.
“If we are going to represent athletics at a place like K that values study abroad, we should experience sport on an international level,” says Coach Hess. Both Coach Hess and Coach Shabazz believe that this trip will be enlightening for their teams and they will bring back this experience to share with the rest of the athletic department.
The trip will be over the course of two weeks, with the teams spending ten days in Trinidad and three days in Tobago.
While abroad, the teams will be involved in several forms of community work. They will be involved in college workshops, which will aim to show students that there is a real opportunity to come to the US to attend college. They will also be involved and doing work with the primary school that Coach Shabazz attended growing up. There will also be an athletic clinic where both soccer and volleyball teams will host some form of practice for locals to participate in.
Right now the NCAA allows teams to take a trip like this once every three years. While the volleyball team has taken two similar trips previously (once to China and once to Costa Rica), this is the first trip of its kind for men’s soccer. While it can be extremely difficult and demanding for coaches to plan these trips, coaches Shabazz and Hess felt Trinidad was the perfect option.
“Because it’s Trinidad it’s given us an extra boost,” Coach Shabazz said. “Once you [a coach] do it once, hopefully it’s the barrier breaker and it opens the possibilities even more.”
While the hope of the trip is to lead to many greater options for the athletic department as a whole in the future, the focus right now is on the experience in Trinidad.
“We can have group experiences like these that are transformative,” Coach Hess says. She believes that this trip will provide a team experience that will help propel the young volleyball team into the future.
For Coach Shabazz, this homecoming will be very special as he shares it with his team. “This trip helps us to become much tougher, but it also helps us realize there’s a whole world out there. I want my boys to be global citizens, not just Americans,” Shabazz said.
One thing is abundantly clear about this trip: it fits perfectly into what K College expects from its community. As Coach Shabazz says, “Coaches here [at K] are about molding men and women rather than molding athletes.”