March 1 - March 8| $5,000
The team members are A J Koele, Joshua Martin, Lynn Reinbolt, Payton Reid, Sarah Ellingson, Shawn Horan (leader), Silas Nacita, and Wendi Reid
Our Ukraine team arrived safely in Kyiv today with all their luggage except for one coach’s personal bag. It was still in Germany and will hopefully be delivered to the team in a couple of days. They took the long drive to Svitlovodsk where camps will be held, had dinner in the hotel and shared about their lives. They are tired and resting now after 24 hours of travel, and excited about the week to come.
Shawn reports for the team. Today we got to sleep in a bit which was great after a long day of traveling Friday/Saturday. We had breakfast and then took a short drive through town. We enjoyed a traditional Ukrainian lunch of borscht and pampushky (garlic bread). Our host, Levi, gave us an orientation to Svitlovodsk and Ukraine and explained some of their traditions and culture. In the afternoon, we took a 5 minute walk from the hotel over to the sports complex to start setting up our equipment and go over our where everyone will be on the court for camp. We met coach Vova at the complex. Once we were set up we walked back to our apartment for dinner, debriefed, and headed off for bed to get a good night sleep before we start tomorrow. We are looking forward to meeting the kids!
Shawn and Sarah report on the first day of camps. Everything is going great! Josh began the day by encouraging the team to stay focused on their purpose there. The morning camp had 21 girls and 23 boys for a total of 44! (More are expected tomorrow in both camps because today was a holiday.) These are the younger kids ages 10 – 12, and more reserved. The team is challenged to find different ways to engage the kids. Nine girls play volleyball and were happy to get to know AJ who plays volleyball for BU. The afternoon camp had 47 total; 19 girls and 28 boys. These are the older kids, ages 13 – 17. The boys are quite skilled in this camp, the girls are not as much. Tomorrow, Sarah will take the girls and lead a separate camp for them. There were 18 repeat kids in the morning camp, and 20 in the afternoon. That’s always exciting to hear. Each coach is doing well in their stations. Vova, the local camp director, joined Sarah in teaching the shooting station. And with the addition of 2 hands – up mesh defensive training men, dribble glasses, and heavy training basketballs (coming out tomorrow), we’re stepping up the challenge. The team is bonding well. They are enjoying the meals; rice and pork for lunch, and soup for dinner with chocolate cake for dessert, as well as the weather. It was in the 40’s in the morning, and got up to the 60’s during the afternoon. Nice.
Shawn shares about today’s camps. Things went really well again today! We had a few more kids than yesterday, 46 in the first camp and 49 in the second camp. Kids in both camps are doing a great job, listening well, and working hard. The kids are rarely off task or not listening which is amazing! A big highlight of the first camp is that the volleyball coach that a lot of the girls play for has been in attendance both days. She has been watching what we teach but also how we teach. The coach told a translator today that she is amazed how hard her girls work for our coaches even though our coaches are so nice and not very strict. We are looking forward to interacting more with her at camp the next few days. In the second camp we have a lot of our host’s basketball team. They have a lot of skill so we worked them hard today. They took the coaching very well. Our coaches noticed that they were more open during our team time and asked some good questions about the plan for us. We feel like coaching them well and also showing our love for them is starting to break down some of their outer walls that have been keeping them from asking as many questions. The team ended the day by going to a coffee shop and having some coffee, cake, and fellowship with our translators and hosts. The team is tired but excited about tomorrow! Day 3 of camps we try to play more games and have fun, and we can’t wait to talk about the Part we all have to play.
Another great day of camp! We took a break from stations and played more games to keep things fun and exciting. In the morning camp we did shooting competitions with all of the teams. The boys and girls loved being able to compete against each other after mainly competing within their own teams so far. The volleyball girls are really competitive and enjoyed the games. The volleyball coaches joined in and played with them some which was fun to see. In the afternoon camp we split boys and girls. The girls were really challenged with some harder drills and they worked so hard. They don’t have a high level of basketball skills but they worked hard and Sarah made sure to say how proud we are with how much they did. The kids seem surprised when we praise them for working hard rather than being upset that they didn’t do things perfectly. The girls also loved doing some relays. The boys are very skilled and loved competing in 2 on 2 and 3 on 3. After camps today our team took a trip to the banya, a Ukrainian sauna. It was a really relaxing experience as they encouraged you to go straight from the steam room to the cold pool and back again. The team got to eat snacks and enjoy the banya. It was a great time of fellowship together and with our hosts and translators.
The team woke to find many missed calls and texts about the coronavirus. So we gathered early to eat breakfast and discuss the plans. We arrived at camp early too and set up for the last day of camps. Kids came early, and everything went by so quickly, but it was great fun. The kids loved the stations and competitions. After this camp was over, kids wanted their coaches to sign their certificates and take pics with them before saying goodbye. This left us with 10 minutes to eat our pizza for lunch before the second camp began. The afternoon camp ran similarly to the morning camp. The boys on Vova’s team really enjoyed being pushed to do better. (They bored at the pace set for the girls.) They loved the more difficult shooting competitions. Silas, the next level athlete, was really good for the boys. He has seen a change in their attitudes with each passing day The girls’ volleyball coach who attended with her girls in the first camp, was spotted in the stands during the second camp. During the presentation of gifts, Shawn asked her to join them on the court and presented her with a tshirt. She was touched and shared her gratitude. For her, it was so exciting to see such a positive coaching atmosphere and how the kids responded so positively. She saw them work even harder because of it, and yet they were having fun! Vova, the boys’ basketball coach and sports complex director, was presented with some basketball shorts and shirts, medals, and 8 leather basketballs. He was at a loss for words. Vova then presented Shawn with a third place medal his team had won, and Bones with a second place medal from the city for their placement in a national competition. These were special to Vova and quite a gift for Shawn and Bones. Shawn shares that in America, Vova would be recognized as an awesome coach. In Ukraine, he really stands out even more. It was a pleasure working with him. The team is traveling to Kyiv through the night to catch a 6:00A flight out. They should arrive in Houston tomorrow at 3:20P and be back home by the day’s end. We are grateful for your support all week long!