The men's team traveled to Europe to work and play
Sports | Nicole Patricelli for the Clarion
The basketball team coached kids in Germany for the last few weeks of summer. | Courtesy of Bethel Sports Information
For many students, the last few weeks of summer meant fervently packing for move-in day. For 13 members of Bethel’s men’s basketball team, it meant packing their suitcases for a 10-day journey filled with basketball, new cultures, service projects and personal growth.
From Aug. 16-26, the team traveled in and around Berlin, Germany. According to head coach Jeff Westlund, preparation for the trip began long before they left, with seven vigorous practices meant to “build upon the athletic, spiritual and community aspects of the team.” Once in Berlin, the team continued to work hard, putting in two practices and winning all five of their games against German competitors.
Off the court, the team worked with two international service organizations, the first being Athletes in Action, a ministry that creates spiritual environments around the world using sports as its foundation. Through this organization, the Bethel team coached a basketball camp for youth and sent all of the proceeds to the German Cancer Society.
Sophomore Quinn Gorski mentioned that this was one of the more powerful experiences of the trip. “We’re just a bunch of Division III college basketball players, but those kids were so thankful that we were there,” he said. “Knowing that we made an impact on them and they made an impact on us as well was a pretty cool thing.”
The team also had the opportunity to work with another organization, Serve the City, through which they cleaned up city parks and renovated a local group home for individuals with special needs.
Sophomore Tyler Schmidt said, “Even though there were so many age barriers, language barriers, different culture barriers, we were still able to make an impact on the city and the kids that we coached.”
In the last post of his Germany trip blog, Westlund expanded on how this service affected the group. He wrote, “Many guys mentioned that whether it was picking up garbage, painting, pulling weeds, fixing chairs for Serve the City, teaching basketball to the campers or simply building relationships with Berliners, they believed this was honoring God.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, one of the major team goals is making it to the national tournament. However, Westlund, Gorski and Schmidt all agree that there are overarching goals that permeate everything they do, some of which are “getting better every day” and upholding the team pillars of character, trust and respect.
Whether on the court, off the court, or out of the country, the Bethel men’s basketball team has a lot to offer. In the last few thoughts of his blog, Westlund examined the idea of unconditional love and how it relates to the trip as well as the future, challenging not only his team but also Bethel as a community.
“So, can our team come off this experiential high of Berlin 2012 to live a life of unconditional love on their daily journeys as Bethel University basketball teammates, students, sons, brothers, and friends? Can we do it?” he asked. “With hope that lives in the love of Jesus we can ... and you can too."