The Grove City College Women’s Basketball Team provided “salt and light” this spring to an underserved community in Montana through the sport they love.
Members of the team spent a week in May on a service trip to the Crow Reservation, home of the Apsáalooke tribe. Grove City College’s connection to the reservation stems from Biology Professor Dr. Tracy Farone, who leads an annual intersession course there.
The community provides excellent opportunities for Grove City students pursuing careers in public health to develop and implement projects ranging from rabies clinics to nutrition seminars while exploring the history and culture of the people and the region. For the basketball team, it provided a chance to grow.
“For our team, being a Wolverine is defined by three words: unity, purpose and strength. We strive to be united as a group, always putting the good of the team above the good of the individual,” according to Jordan McConnell ’20. “We practice playing for a bigger purpose, using the game of basketball to share God’s love. We focus on becoming mentally and physically stronger, growing one percent better than we were yesterday. During our week in Montana at the Crow Indian Reservation, we experienced unity, purpose, and strength in a very real way.”
The women spent their first day on the service trip working at a greenhouse on the Crow Reservation, pulling weeds, tilling soil and planting. Working as a team, they were able to accomplish in one day what would have taken the owners of the greenhouse several weeks.
The players then headed to local schools to spend a day getting students excited about the basketball camp they would be conducting. It was an easy sell.
“We quickly learned that they already loved the game. To them, basketball is not just a sport, but instead it is a key element to their health. There is an issue with obesity on the Crow Reservation, and basketball is one of the main tools that they are using to fight this problem,” McConnell said.
The women did their part with a basketball camp for nearly 300 kids. The players and the kids had a blast running drills and working on fundamentals of the game. The kids “showed us that basketball is so much more than a competition. Their energy and pure joy poured into us and gave us a renewed perspective of the game that we play,” McConnell said.
Along with their luggage and high hopes, the Wolverine women’s basketball team brought 100 basketballs with them to Montana. They intended to give one to each of the students they worked with, but the overwhelming turnout made that impossible. They improvised and were able to give one to almost every family that brought children to the camp.
As with so many service trips and missions, the Wolverine players got as much out of it as the people they intended to help. “The lessons that this trip taught us about unity, purpose and strength were much greater. We saw how much we can do together as a team, how the game of basketball can change others’ lives and how important it is to train our minds and our bodies. Thanks to the people at the Crow Indian Reservation, we saw what it means to be Wolverines,” McConnell said.
(Based on the Bridging the Gap blog post "Hope & Basketball: Wolverines Assist Apsáalooke in Montana" by Emily Rothbard '16)