Wabash Blogs Little Giants in Panama -

May 30, 2006

Photo Albums

Fifty photos from the trip are posted here. Check out Album #1 and Album #2.

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May 25, 2006

One of the Most Amazing Experiences of My Life

Chris Greisl '07 (written Sunday morning 5/21) - Like every day, Saturday was one to remember.  It started out with our trip to the Panama Canal.  We got to view the passing of multiple ships as the water raised and lowered in order to complete a successful transfer.  The whole process takes around eight minutes.  Being a history major, the background information of the canal was very interesting.  It was amazing to view something that took the lives of so many people.  After being at the canal for about an hour, we made our way to the Shamrock where we had our pre-game meal. 

In the grand scheme of things, the game was probably one of the least significant parts of the trip, until I realized the effect we had in Panama.  From working in the mountains for two days to playing soccer at a local school, we had accomplished so much.  We had conveyed a message that hard work, dedication, and a sense of belief can get you through the hardest times.  If we decided to approach this game with a “non-Wabash” approach, we would seem somewhat hypocritical. 

We were the first foreign team to play a game in Panama.  The stands were filled with kids who had come to our clinic the previous night.  The announcer, who was Panama’s version of the Detroit Piston’s announcer, gave a very colorful play by play throughout the game.  Rain was pouring down until the start of the game.  The field could more closely be described as a mud pit.  Although conditions were terrible, we managed to have a blast.  The game was a once in a lifetime experience.  There was a lot of raw talent on the Panamanian team, but you could tell that the “basics\of football” was not stressed as highly in Panama.  At the completion of the game we greeted the players and coaches from the other team.  The game was a huge success.

Saturday night was a night on our own.  We got to go anywhere we chose to.  Panama City is completely different from the countryside.   Skyscrapers, clubs, and restaurants make it seem as though we were in a typical downtown.  Players stuck together and ventured through clubs, casinos, and other night life venues.  We were treated as celebrities (free-cover charge) as everyone knew of our efforts in their country.  Everyone in Panama is truly grateful for all of the work we have done, while here.  I will always remember the time we spent in Panama.  This has truly been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. 

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Good Players and Good Men

Patrick Millikan '07 (written Saturday night 5/20) - Victory!  Today, we finally got to play the Panamanian All Star Team at Balboa Stadium. The experience was very unique.  I had never expected those guys to be as passionate or talented as they were.  They were a big team, and some positions had more size and depth than I ever would have imagined.  The weather was hot and muggy, like every day we have spent in this beautiful country.  Fortunately, the heat broke right before the game started, with the daily rainfall we had come to expect.  Although it was humid, the rain made the heat much more bearable.

When the game began, we were surprised to see that they had an “interesting” way of playing.  Their D-line would stand up at the snap, instead of coming across the ball.  The offense took advantage of this, as we pushed them down the field for a touchdown. 

Our defense was equally successful against their offense, and held them to no points for the entire game.  Though they were talented and had a lot of heart, their technique needed work, and we finished the game at 18-0.

Despite the loss, their team was positive and thankful at the end of the game.  They were happy to play us, and we were glad to play them, as well.  Overall, the game was a wonderful way to wrap up the trip.  We met many good players who were also good men, and I am thankful for the opportunity.

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May 22, 2006

Wow - Only Way to Describe This Trip

Editor's note: This is a blog contribution written Friday evening.

Josh Gangloff - Wow! That is the easiest way to explain how this trip has gone up to this point. We arrived in Panama City last night after another full day. We stayed in the Best Western Las Huacas in downtown Panama. I was placed in room 804 and they told me it was the disco room. I had no idea what they meant until I walked into the room and saw the spiraling staircase going up to the master bedroom. I shared this huge room with Brent Banach and Adam Pilli.

Friday was a great day.I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast and started off on our journey through the beautiful country of Panama. Our tour guide, Jesus, told us we would be traveling to a Panamanian Indian tribe and hanging out with them before heading to the Florida State campus for football practice. We arrived on the banks of a muddy river and climbed into these huge canoe like boats.

The Embera tribe was waiting for us and helped us with all of our water and supplies. We got the chance to see how the tribe lived, their dancing and some of their beautiful art which we could purchase.The Embera tribe then showed us a few of their native dances. They were really amazing. I really could have stayed with the tribe all day but we still had a practice and a kids football camp to run. We left the tribe and went to the FSU campus and practiced for 2 hours. The practice field was located right under the Bridge of the Americas. It was really neat. The kids came and brought the rain along with them. It was an amazing day and I can't to play tomorrow!

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May 21, 2006

Game Photos

Click here to view some photos from game day. I'll hopefully be able to get more photos online soon. As you can see, there are very few action shots from the game, partially because the camera is not equipped for such photos, but mainly because, as you will see, this day was about much more than the action on the field.

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Wabash Football Wins in Panama

Rick Warner and Steve Hoffman (written as sports reporting amateurs with all due respect to Sports Information Director Brent Harris) - In the first-ever game for an American football team to play a Panamanian team in Panama, the Wabash College Little Giants were victorious at Balboa Stadium in Panama City on a muddy Saturday afternoon, defeating a team comprised of the best players of American Football in Panama. The final score was Wabash 18, Panama 0. An estimated crowd of 1000 Panamanians and 8 Wabash fans (Mr. and Mrs. Millikan and Mr. Lange down from Indiana, and two tour guides with friends) stayed to the bitter end.

Most of the first half was affected by heavy rains, turning an already saturated field into a muddy soup. The football squibbed out of hands, players were slipping on the field and all uniforms were quickly browned. Despite the weather and field conditions, several Wabash players turned in strong performances. Tim Shirack scored one touchdown in the first quarter on a 45 yard run, and again in the third quarter on a two yard dive. Faulk picked off a pass in the fourth quarter, returning the ball 35 yards and diving into the endzone for the final TD. Bryan Engh and Chad Peterman also turned in interceptions.

The Wabash defense stymied Panama all game long, forcing minus yards rushing and allowing only 3 first downs.

With the Panamaian announcer entertaining the crowd with his play-by-play comments, all players saw playing time in the contest. Thomas Schaffer and Josh Gangloff played on both sides of the line. Andrew Rode blocked a punt deep in Panama territory which was recovered by Adi Pynenberg, though the Little Giants failed to convert the turnover. J.T. Moore peeled off a 60 yard pass play from Brandon Neighbors into the end zone, only to have the play called back by a holding penalty. Andrew Rode blocked a punt early in the game which was recovered by Pynenberg.

American football has only recently grown in popularity in Panama, despite acquisition of other American practices during the years that the U.S. controlled the Canal Zone. Nonetheless, the Panamanian team played with considerable aggressiveness and some very talented players. Following the game, Wabash players presented t-shirts to their opponents, Panama players presented gifts to Coach Creighton, and Coach Creighton and his captains (Pynenberg, Pat Millikan, Chris Greisl, and Will Certain) were awarded an impressive trophy.

Game day once again provided plenty of opportunity for Wabash players to rub shoulders with Panamanians, especially local boys interested in the sport. Many of the participants in Friday´s football clinic were on hand for the game. The mother of one Panamanian youth told the team that her son had learned more about football in the two hour Wabash clinic than he had in three years of youth football league play. The son offered his lesson from Saturday´s game: "After you hit someone very hard, you need to give them a hand up." Some Little Giant!

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May 20, 2006

Something Extraordinary

Dr. Rick Warner (written Friday night 5/19) - Something extraordinary has been happening to 39 of our students this week. They have become immersed in a society considerably different from their own, rubbing shoulders with ordinary people in a developing country. The students have been learning about community organizing and sustainable agriculture. They have visited an indigenous community, traveling by dugout canoe, learning first hand about the culture and history of the Embera people.   Most importantly, they have reflected on the value of working toward an understanding of a different culture. They are developing international and cultural empathy and making multiple connections with their liberal arts experience at large.

No, this is not a course-related immersion trip. This is the football trip to Panama. Student blogs provide a fascinating window on their reflections – so far – on this remarkable venture. There is something about traveling abroad that opens up pathways of reflection about life at home, and their (our) realizations are inevitably couched in comparative terms. For my own part, I am reflecting on my previous trips to Latin America with students. Many of the same powerful synergies have emerged.

Yet there are some interesting differences to illuminate. For starters, the students have pursued and obtained their own fundraising for this trip. This is all the more impressive when one considers that about three days of our itinerary are devoted to service projects, which are aptly described in the student blogs. While many U.S. tourists visit Latin America with an eye to their own amusement and relaxation, our students are helping impoverished farmers make their way in the world. Forty football players can move a lot of dirt in a day. Additionally, our students have reached out to young Panamanians, through a school visit and a youth football clinic.

Everyone has had his own revelations on this trip. If you know one of these students or coaches, I encourage you to ask them what they have learned. In my own case I have realized that I can do a much better job in my international travels with students. The service component of the Panama trip sets it apart from others, and I am resolved to search for service learning possibilities for future immersion experiences. Our students are taking up President Ford´s charge to “save humanity,” or at least they are taking some steps toward “living humanely.” I would like to follow them.

Finally, I have realized that there are fruitful ways that professors and coaches can work as partners to bring the world to our students. Athletics and academics have common ground in the liberal arts experience. Not only do we teach the same students, but some important life lessons can be learned when such partnerships are forged. Much more can be done in this line.

Something extraordinary has been happening to 39 of our students this week. And to the rest of us here too.

In photo: Little Giant Coach Chris Creighton talks with the Panamanian children who participated in the camp.

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