Mount Vernon Nazarene College will be well-represented this summer when Athletes in Action sends a women's soccer team to San Jose, Costa Rica for two weeks in June.
Paul Furey, the men's soccer coach at MVNC, will serve as the AIA team's coach, while Jonathan Meade, the women's soccer coach at MVNC, will be his assistant. Rick Collins, a former standout player for the Cougars from 1997-2000, will also make the trip as one of the group's translators. Collins, who majored in Spanish, spent a semester in Costa Rica last year studying abroad.
In addition to the MVNC contingent on the coaching staff, the rest of the AIA staff will consist of tour director Jim Schmidtke, two Bible teachers, an athletic trainer, a team manager, and another translater. Schmidtke serves as the chaplain for both the Columbus Crew and the Ohio State University football team.
"I have always wanted to go on a tour with AIA," said Furey. "It always sounded like a tremendous experience and now I am really excited to get this opportunity to coach an AIA team. While the competition will be challenging, the main focus is ministry and sharing our faith even as we each experience our own spiritual renewal."
"An added bonus for me is the company that I will be keeping," Furey added. "While I look forward to new friends and relationships, it will be great to have some familiar faces in some unfamiliar places. I know that it will be a lot of fun working with Jonathan, Rick and Jim, but I am also looking forward to some quality father-daughter time with my 11-year-old, Chelsea, who will make her first missions trip with me."
The team is comprised of 17 women's soccer players from around the country representing institutions such as the University of Miami (Fla.), Baylor University, University of Cincinnati, Texas Christian University, Pepperdine University, and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. MVNC has three players who plan on making the trip - Shelly Aldrich (Marion, OH; Marion Harding H.S.), Kelly Evans (Sunbury, OH; Big Walnut H.S.), and Krista Reynolds (Gahanna, OH; Gahanna-Lincoln H.S.).
The trip will begin with a week-long training camp in Boca Raton, Florida, on June 8. Then, the team will fly to Costa Rica for two weeks of competition against elite clubs and possibly the women's national team. In addition to playing two or three matches each week, the team will be conducting soccer clinics, visitations, evangelism, and church speaking engagements. The team will return to Ohio on July 2.
"I anticipate a lot of exciting things to come out of this trip for all involved," said Furey. "It has already been such a blessing just to see my local church rally around me in this project, so I know that good things lie ahead."
AIA sponsors sports-ministry trips around the world as they use the platform of sports to spread the Gospel. Each player must raise around $3,000 to pay their own way on the trip. Anyone interested in making a tax-deductible donation to AIA on behalf of a player or coach can contact the MVNC soccer office at (740) 392-6868 ext. 3104. Furey will also be speaking at Community Christian Fellowship in Gambier on Sunday morning, May 20, regarding the trip.