SE: Cats Across Continents

Sixteen K-State student-athletes will embark on a life-changing journey beginning today. The group, along with four K-State Athletics staff members, has teamed up with Courts for Kids and will spend the next nine days serving the community of Linea, Vieja, Costa Rica.

On this trip, the student-athletes will partner with members of the Linea, Vieja, community to build a multi-purpose sports court from the ground up. The court will be utilized by area youth and physical education teachers, in addition to being a landing place for community events.   

“I’ve always wanted to study abroad, and this is a great opportunity for us. I’m happy to take advantage of it,” said football senior Steven West. “I’m looking forward to being able to help these kids and try to change their lives the way sports have changed ours.”

Along with building the multipurpose court, the student-athletes will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the community with cultural dance lessons, language classes and soccer games. The group will also partake in a cook off where the student-athletes will provide a BBQ cuisine – complete with the sauce they’re bringing from home – for their Costa Rican hosts.

“A trip such as this is another example of how we are committed to enhancing the overall student-athlete experience at K-State,” said Cori Pinkett, director of student-athlete development. “Our partnership with Courts for Kids and this trip allow us to provide an opportunity for student-athletes to conduct service work internationally while also learning and experiencing the culture and country. To be fully ingrained into a community for nine days will be a life-changing experience for our team and something we are all looking forward to.”

Because of their hectic schedules balancing class, training and competition, a majority of student-athletes are unable to study or serve abroad during their years at K-State. However, through this program, dubbed “Cats Across Continents,” they now have the opportunity to get out and explore the world for the first time.   

“I’ve never had the opportunity to go abroad or do any sort of mission work because of sports. My involvement in sports has always kept me away from being able to engage in this sort of service abroad trip, so I’m really excited to finally serve on a trip like this for the first time,” said rowing junior Noelle Dykmann. “I’m looking forward to learning a new culture and really immersing myself in it. I’m excited to learn how they live, to step outside of myself, get out of my own comfort zone and learn how someone else lives.”

Added women’s basketball junior Shaelyn Martin, “I want to have the experience of a different culture. On campus there is a lot of diversity, and we’ve met a lot of different people, but I think it’s going to be good to spend time in a completely different culture, learn about the way they live and get to know some of the people.”

According to the Courts For Kids website, the organization’s mission is to, “foster love, compassion, service and an expanding worldview,” while taking teams to disadvantaged areas around the world. In its nine years of its existence, Courts for Kids has built a total of 91 courts in 23 different countries around the globe.

“This is my first time going to another country. I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m looking forward to really understanding and seeing their culture,” said football senior Dante Barnett. “I’ve never been anywhere else – all I know is the American way – so going somewhere else and learning their culture is going to be really fun.”

Along with the student-athletes and Pinkett, Jill Shields, K-State’s Executive Associate AD/SWA and Director of Student-Athlete Services, is making the trip while representatives from kstatesports.com and K-StateHD.TV will be along to follow the experience, so fans will have the opportunity to view updates from the trip.

Cats Across Continents Student-Athletes
Iva Bago, women’s tennis
Dante Barnett, football
Livia Cirmu, women’s tennis
Megan Deines, women’s basketball
Noelle Dykmann, women’s rowing
Kennedy Felice, women’s rowing
Madi Haney, women’s rowing
Nicholle Hatton, equestrian
Paige Kemper, equestrian
Gretchen Koenen, equestrian
Miranda Larkin, women’s soccer
Shaelyn Martin, women’s basketball
Erin Smith, women’s track and field
Dane Steen, men’s track and field
Steven West, football
Tyler White, football