Athletes visit Nicaragua during break



By Garrett Bonistalli

Five UK athletes found themselves visiting an orphanage during their unconventional Spring Break trip to Nicaragua.

UK football players Jacob Lewellen and Marcus Davis; volleyball players Ann Armes and Sarah Rumley; and women’s soccer player Laura Novikoff all made the trip to the Central American country. The trip was made possible through Athletes in Action, an international Christian sports ministry program.

While in Nicaragua, the athletes spent the bulk of their time at an orphanage, participating in games and getting to know some of the kids, an experience that moved Lewellen, a freshman defensive end, the most during his stay in Nicaragua.

“To me, what stood out the most was the fact that these kids are so hurt on the inside, but they put on a smile and cling to the people that come out, and they really attach to them. They show you love and they wear a smile even though they’re hurting,” Lewellen said, “It’s really re-enforcing to yourself to say that you can come back to the states and nothing that we’re experiencing here is as bad as what they’re experiencing (in Nicaragua).

“We should always have a smile on our face for the opportunities we have here … I really saw how it impacted me when I got back and now I look at life a lot differently.”

Like Lewellen, Davis, a junior center  and three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll student, was encouraged the most by the relationships he formed with the kids at the orphanage.

“I would have to say (what that stood out most) was how great it was to connect with the kids. The kids were able to trust and befriend us; they really wanted to be with us,” Davis said. “I think it would have been easy for them to say that these are just more visitors. But instead, they genuinely wanted to be around us.”

Along with the experience, Davis said he made a new friend at the orphanage during his stay.

“I made a pretty good friend down there, a kid by the name of Ayuhendo,” he said. “He showed me a lot about his culture and just the things they do to have fun. It was fun and it was great, I loved hanging out with him. If I could go back and hang out with him and see him again that would be great. And if not, I hope he’s blessed with whatever he’s doing.”

When asked if he would go back to Nicaragua or visit another developing country, Lewellen gave a clear-cut answer: Yes.

“I would definitely go back, and if not to Nicaragua then to any other place,” Lewellen said.  “I got the hunger to see other places in developing areas and to see how they can impact my life as much as I can impact their lives.”