Eugene “EJ” Walter
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Finals week, The Story Behind the Story.
The school year is drawing to a close and the trip is coming fast. It is hard to believe in only a matter of weeks I will be on my way to Africa. It seems surreal. The time flew by. I can still remember the feeling of being told of this great experience for the first time.
When coach Creighton began the story none of us (the players) knew where he was going with it. “ Guys, I have been thinking about something. I have been day-dreaming about it. It has been in my head for a long time. It is huge! And now, we are going to make it happen. I have been on the phone, calling all around the country, and finally got approval from the NCAA and (the athletic department director) Sandy and we are going to play, what I believe is the first football game on the continent of Africa.” The team was fluttering and confused. We were excited but skeptical of such a trip. But when coach told us all the big plans he had; the camps, the service, the climb and the game, we knew it was not just hot air. One major problem, we had to find a team to play and we had to raise the money to get there.
According to NCAA rules we had to play a team from outside the United States and many of the players (myself included) were ignorant to the existence of competitive American Football leagues outside of the US.
Before we left for our summer vacation, Patrick came in, from Global football, and told us the European and Japanese teams were not funded enough to attempt such a trip. Meanwhile, we began our incredulous task of raising $200,000 to fund what many people perceived as a “free vacation”. This task was especially hard because we could not finitely say that the trip was happening. We had to find an opponent before we could collect any real money but if collecting pledges was what we had to do then we'd do our best.
It was not long after we returned from summer that we found our opponent, but they were not just interested in a football game. They wanted everything; the trip, the climb, the service, to meet and compete with the Drake football team and share in the experience of something historic. That was when it all became real, and even more so it became about something other than football. We were going to make an impact and be impacted. The trip has become as much about learning as it was about teaching; as much about experiencing as it was about sharing; as much about the world as it was about our small campus in Iowa.
It has been a long and bumpy road to get us here but it is real, it is unwavering, and it is only 2 weeks from reality.
Check in for frequent updates two weeks from now, while we are there, where I and our other bloggers will give a first hand account of all the things this trip has to offer.
Thank you for reading,
Eugene “EJ” Walter