By Giana Pirolli | Sports Writer
Twenty-two people, including 10 Baylor softball players and coaches as well as some of their family members, departed on a mission trip to Ghana in December. It was the second time the Baylor softball team had been to Ghana for a mission trip. The softball team has also taken trips to Thailand as well as other stateside trips.
Ghana is located on West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea and as of 2016 has a population of about 28.2 million. Of that 28.2 million, 6.2 million are living in poverty.
Baylor softball head coach Glenn Moore said the trip was very educational and humbled all those involved.
“It makes you appreciate the USA, for sure,” Moore said. “It gives kids the opportunity to see life outside our borders in an area where people have so little. It’s dirty, dusty, there’s people in need. There are also people with big hearts that are very happy. We learned a lot from them.”
The team focused on running a four-day clinic teaching kids softball while still loving and building genuine relationships with the people they encountered.
This was senior infielder Caitlin Charlton‘s second time traveling to Ghana with the team. Charlton said she is grateful for the opportunity to have gone again and believes that the mission aspect of being a Baylor student, specifically a student-athlete, is incredibly important.
“We are called as Christians to be a witness of Christ wherever we go and being able to go to Ghana and spread His word and really live out that Baylor mission overseas is just an awesome opportunity,” Charlton said.
Freshman catcher Ashley Marchand had never been on a mission trip before, but was touched by all those she encountered while there.
“It was life-changing to see all the different ways of life there,” Marchand said. “A picture doesn’t even describe what it’s like standing there and seeing what’s happening. We actually got to go out into the slums of villages and experience family life, and it’s a whole new world.”
Of the 10 student-athletes that traveled to Ghana, five were freshmen. The team said the trip provided an opportunity for the older players on the team to bond and get to know the younger athletes a little bit better. Moore, Charlton and Marchand all agreed that team chemistry is crucial to the game of softball.
“Team chemistry is one of the biggest components that you can have as a team, and after this trip I think we’ve gotten so much closer,” Charlton said. “Even with girls who haven’t gone, just being able to share in prayer and preparing for the trip has just been a team bonding experience.”
Marchand had similar thoughts.
“This just adds another element to Baylor softball that makes us different from almost every other program out there,” Marchand said.
The Bears will be able to take the life lessons that were experienced in Ghana and apply them to the softball field, as their season starts at 6 p.m. Feb. 9 against Northwestern State at Getterman Stadium.