Training, in service
Soccer team takes annual mission trip to Florida before season begins
HU men’s soccer coach Russ Lawson recognizes that there’s more to life than soccer. That couldn’t be more obvious in his annual preseason trip.
For the sixth time in as many years, Lawson has organized a state-side trip in early August with a special emphasis on service. This year was no different as he, assistant coach Andrew Wust and 30 players spent more than a week in Tampa, Fla., working closely with and staying at the St. James United Methodist Church where Lawson and his family attended for two years prior to taking over the reins of the men’s soccer program in 2004.
While the team spent the first three hours of each morning in fitness and training sessions, the majority of their day was focused on helping others and building camaraderie with teammates.
They filled their days working with various organizations including River of Grace, a Christ-centered men’s homeless shelter, where they participated in maintenance and clean-up projects. They also ran a soccer clinic through the church’s Special Connections program and worked with the city of Tampa to clean-up nearly a dozen homes that were in violation of city code.
“This trip is a fantastic way to start the year,” Lawson said. “First and foremost, we want to set a tone that it’s not all about us. We are called to serve others so we make sure to keep that the focus of our trip.
“We also know that an experience like this brings the team together. Anytime the guys are sweating next to each other during a workout session or service project, just hanging out or preparing a meal together, we know that unique bonds are being formed. It establishes a strong foundation to get us through the highs and lows of the season.”