SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The Augustana College baseball team will embark on the trip of a lifetime on Saturday when they take off for Managua, Nicaragua. On the 12-day excursion, the coaching staff and student-athletes will participate in missionary work and experience a new culture.
The team has been enrolled in an on-campus course titled "Cultural and Political History in Nicaragua," taught by Augustana Professor of Anthropology, Dr. Landon Karr. The course will continue in Nicaragua where Dr. Karr will lead field trips to various course-related sites and destinations.
"I can't wait for Saturday to get here," Augustana head baseball coach Tim Huber said. "Our guys seem genuinely excited for this very unique opportunity. A lot of people have said to me, 'have fun' and my response is always, 'I'm not sure fun is what you would call this but it will be an awesome experience for our players.' This isn't a vacation, it is a life lesson at the highest scale."
The team will use local baseball facilities for training, and will participate in exhibition games against Nicaraguan professional, minor league and local clubs.
The team will also be involved in a service-learning project in cooperation with the South Dakota-based charity Helping Kids Round First. HFKR was founded by Flandreau, South Dakota native Craig Severtson, father of former Viking closer Bret Severtson and Beau Severtson (a former Augustana wrestler). The team will host two days of youth baseball camps in Somotillo, Nicaragua with the mission of giving underprivileged kids opportunities through baseball.
During the service-learning project, the team will travel to rural communities and live with Nicaraguan host families. Team members will be living in areas with no running water, electricity, bathrooms or shower facilities.
Throughout the planning of this trip, Augustana has been collecting new and used baseball equipment to share with community baseball teams in Nicaragua. It has collected thousands of pounds of equipment and uniforms and plan to bring 50 large bags with them to disperse to those less privileged in the country.
Augustana head coach Tim Huber joined Craig Severtson on a service trip to Nicaragua in 2012 and soon after decided to start planning an eye-opening experience for his student-athletes. On Saturday that vision will become a reality when he brings his team to Central America.
"When we first started planning I could never have imagined how this trip could have come together any better than it has," Huber said. "It has been a lot of work, but to be able to experience everything we will on this trip, will make it worth our time and effort. Baseball, warm weather and being surrounded by a culture of people who truly love the game. Awesome!"