For Love and for the Game

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (July 15, 2013) — On May 12-21, the Golden Eagle women's basketball squad took their basketball shoes, practice jerseys and talents on a 30-hour trek across the Pacific Ocean to reach out to aspiring female basketball players in the Philippines.

Upon arrival, the ladies partnered with Buhay Sports, a local organization whose charter is to spread the word of Christ to the Filipino people through the sport of basketball, to conduct a week-long camp for girls aged 10-19 while staying at the Jazz Home, a local orphanage. Over the course of teaching basketball and witnessing to the locals, the ladies forged bonds and friendships that will forever be remembered.

"I am so blessed and thankful that our team was given the opportunity to go on our mission trip to the Philippines," said sophomore forward Morgan Ankrom. "During this trip, we planted seeds to further God’s kingdom, made some great relationships and realized just how fortunate we are."

When not teaching skills on the court, the ladies assisted in an outreach to the squatter villages in Manila, handing out food to locals that would otherwise go without.

"It was definitely an eye-opener seeing what these people lived in," Ankrom added. "They basically put together a house with anything they could find and it was unbelievable how they can survive like this day in and day out. Although their living conditions were poor, the people were so friendly and thankful for us for helping out their community.

"Interacting with the community was incredible. Seeing the children's faces light up, knowing that we were helping in what little way we could, was a heart-lifting experience."

The Golden Eagles also participated in a five-game exhibition schedule that included the Filipino National Team. When not conducting skills clinics, playing against the national team or handing out food to the local squatter villages, the ladies were able to experience the culture, which included trips to the mall and a visit to the gorgeous Crystal Beach.

However, for Ankrom in particular, it won't be the shopping malls or beach time she remembers the most. Instead, it will be a gift from the girls of the Jazz Home, a token that will remain with her forever.

"I came back to the orphanage one day not knowing where my jersey had gone," recalled Ankrom. "I finally found it being worn by my best friend at the Jazz Home, Shiela. Although it was smelly, it was precious to see her in it and even more so to discover that all the girls had signed it for me.

"This trip has forever changed my life; these girls and how they handle their circumstances have opened my eyes to what is really important in life."

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