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.

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. 

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

May 19, 2006

Villages, Practice, and Youth Clinic

Jared "Bubba" Lange '08 (written Friday night 5/19) - We woke up today with plans of going to the jungle to visit some local tribes, practicing for the only time on this trip, and participating in something similar to our community day, but with 150 Panama children.

In order to reach the local tribes we had to take small boats to their area. The boats was made out of trees, but unfortunately when you have a few lineman on the same boat it seems to sink a little bit. Half way into the boat ride we were overtaken and water started flowing into our boat.  I was hoping for a dry day, but that was scratched out in the first thirty minutes, Dr. Warner got he worst of it sitting in the back. 

Once we reached our destination we were introduced to the local tribes and families.  I felt like I was in the Discovery Channel, but it was real life. The chief of the village described to us their history and other various information. Afterwards, we looked around at some of their various handmade merchandise. There were things ranging from $5 to $500.  Next, the tribe showed us some of their music and dances, they even let us participate with them.  It was amazing seeing some of the players dance with some of the women in the tribe. 

Also, many of us decided to get some tattoos, only temporary ones.  It made us seem a little more macho at practice with everyone having tribal tattoos.  I left there knowing that I will never taste pineapple so sweet again in my life.

Next, we went to the Florida State University to have practice.  It was finally here, football in Panama.  We had an amazing view, the field was under a bridge and the Panama Canal was only a few hundred feet away.  The practice was the hottest practice ever, every player was sweating more than they ever have.  Practice went by fast, everyone was anticipating for the clinic afterwards. 

The clinic was amazing.  Hundreds of kids who love football running around.  There is a lot of raw talent, but none of them really know any technique.  I really feel we taught them some good technique, sportsmanship, and enthusiasm.  At the conclusion of practice we had a little competition.  After every time the defense won, everyone would surround each other and go crazy.  The faces on all of them was indescribable when we were jumping up and down.  I felt almost famous when walking to the locker room saying good bye to everyone and being wished good luck in the game tomorrow.  Plus, they were so happy when all of us were giving them shirts and small gifts.

So, it is finally here.  I am about to go to bed thinking of being on the first team ever to come from a different country to play in Panama.  I not only feel like I am representing Wabash College, but America as well.  Plus, tomorrow is my 20th birthday and my dad came down here to celebrate it with me and watch the game.  Tomorrow is going to be a good day.

Hats Off to Ronaldhino Jr.

Richard Roomes '08 (written Friday morning 5/19) - Yesterday was by far the most interesting day for me while being here in Panama.  After completing two days of service work with an agricultural program located within the various mountain ranges in Panama, we embarked on our next adventure to a school about an hour away. 

I was astonished to see that all of the children there were fully dressed in uniforms, something quite unexpected due to the heat and probably my own “rebellious” American nature.  We were able to tour the school briefly and were then ushered into a cafeteria where we could speak to the children more directly. With the help of our excellent translator Bryan Engh, we were able to communicate basic rules of the game and ultimately a better understanding than that given by television and other media sources. 

After Bryan’s explanation we then engaged in a “mock game” in which a couple of students were allowed to intermix into our regular offensive and defensive sets. The highlight of this scrimmage was when the quarterback, a schoolgirl no more than fifteen years old executed a spectacular “bootleg”, embarrassing our entire front seven. I forgot to mention that throughout this whole time, other members of the team not involved in the scrimmage walked around handing out candy, t-shirts, and toys. 

I seemed to be pretty popular among them. I would like to say that it was because of my charming and charismatic demeanor but I’m pretty sure that it was only because of the lollipops and toy cars I had in my possession. Shortly after this, we were challenged by a couple of the young boys in the school to participate in their style of futbol. 

Being authentic Wabash men we took up their offer and headed out to the “pitch”.  I have never seen all of the athletes of my team embarrassed athletically as what I saw yesterday. I, probably more than most, was made to look a fool as Ronaldhino Jr. sent a shot right through my legs in goal. I must note, however, that the infallible Brent Banach did score a goal off the left post to tie the game up. I don’t feel that bad anymore, however, he’ll probably be playing in the World Cup when he gets older. If skill wasn’t the greatest obstacle, the heat certainly was as I was completely drenched after 20 minutes of play.  Our opponents, however, barely glistened. 

After we left the school, we headed to Lake Gutan, which is a man-made lake created by the American government in order to supply the Panama Canal with freshwater.  It was amazing to know that while were out on the boats in the lake we were virtually in the middle of the canal.  According to our guide, the lake is filled with crocodiles and over 120 different species of snakes, 20 of whom can swallow a man whole.  Overall, I had an awesome time yesterday and I’m sure many more are to come!!!

Little Things Are So Important

Scott Liska '09 (written Thursday night 5/18) - Today started off quickly just like all of the other days. The wake up call to our room was 25 minutes later than most of the others, so our room was in a rush to get our stuff packed for the buses. Breakfast for me was a quick sandwich.

I was partially glad that we were not heading out into the heat of the farms to work again but there was definitely a part of me that wished we had a few more days there. The feelings that I experienced from helping was amazing. Knowing how much we had done made all of the soreness and sunburn worth while.

Today we were going to help in a different kind of way. We were headed to a local school in the community of La Pintada. On the way I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Other than television most, if not all, of the students had never seen a foreigner. I wondered how they would react and hoped that our visit would impact them in a positive way.  

On the bus we were told that we would try to explain our version of football to them. We all spread out and gave away some of the gifts that we brought. I was happy that I stopped at the store the previous night and bought plenty of candy because the children could not get enough. After we had interacted for a few minutes Bryan Engh, a Spanish major, was given the task of explaining the complex game football. A few of the kids had heard of football and along with some other volunteers we assembled a defense and offense with a mix of Wabash players and students.

Engh performed his task beautifully even with the large crowd of students. I have enough trouble trying to explain football to people who speak English. Engh was even able to set up some plays, both of which went for touchdowns. After that, Coach Creighton was challenged by a student to a game of soccer.  Needless to say we were on the field in less than five minutes. We were all terrified as we stepped onto the field even though our opponents were all, for the most part, under the age of 14. They proved our fears correct by flying around the field and making our game of soccer look like an AND 1 mix tape.

Wabash Always Fights though and in true Wabash fashion, with a diving save from Jeff Williams and a goal from Brent Banach, we were able to salvage a one to one tie. Next we stopped in town at a cigar factory and a market where they sold true Panama hats. Every day I spend here I realize all of the things I take for granted at home. Little things are so important and every penny counts. When buying hats today, a hat that was advertised for 25 dollars could be bought for a mere five.

The rest of the day was spent touring the jungle by boats. Highlights were numerous including wild monkeys mere feet from us and a Roomes vs Bell dance off but I’m sure Richard will explain it in his blog.  So far this trip has been an amazing experience and I’m sure when we get to the city it will continue that way. Everyone here sends their best wishes home.

Take care and God bless.

Panamanian School Children Can Play Some Futbol!

Tim Shirack '07 - With the football game only two days away thoughts of first downs, touchdowns and defensive stands run through our head…wait, we have to play a football game on this trip? It would be a terrible misconception if I were to make you believe football is the main focus of this trip. At least not until Saturday when we have the game.

The morning sun sent the team packing their bags as we prepared to leave our hotel in Panonome, the location we had been the last two days, and venture towards the city. After everyone had loaded the bus we stopped in a small village, La Pintada, to visit a school. While gathered in the cafeteria of the school with the children Bryan Engh (junior – Indianapolis, IN) spoke to the children about the sport of futbol americana (football.) By the end of the session we had the children successfully running a quarterback bootleg for a touchdown!

After teaching them our sport they thought it necessary to teach us theirs. We headed out to the futbol (soccer) field for a challenge, or a lesson depending on your perspective. I will not mention the score of the game, I will simply say that “Wabash Always Fights.” However, everyone’s favorite moment was when Jeff Williams (Senior – Delphi, IN) made a one handed stop at the goal line while diving in the mud. Fairly impressive “hard hat D” for an offensive lineman!

After leaving the school the team once again got on the busses to head towards Panama City.  The bus dropped us off at a dock where we boarded small transporter boats which took us to a remote house boat. It was here that we met our tour guide who lives on the house boat. He was from St. Louis and appeared as though he had been lost in the jungle a few too many years, or had finished a recent stand on the television show Survivor.

Lunch was served on the house boat as the players had a small competition of their own. Dancing was the sport of choice as Richard Roomes (junior – South Bend, IN) and Thomas Bell (junior – Houston, TX) traded moves to salsa tunes. The title went to Thomas (partially because he was better and partially because he is my roommate and we worked on his dancing skills the previous night.) The final dance left us running to the small boats for a tour of the jungle.

Our tour guide took us through small channels leading to the Panama Canal. As we cruised around the massive boats traveling through the canal we pulled up to an island. While I searched for the reason the tour guide was so interested in the island he proceeded to make a few animal calls. The calls worked as six monkeys stormed through the trees and jumped onto our boats with better precision than the LAPD swat team. With the monkeys mixed between football players I wondered which species was more curious of the other, but I do know which species was more frightened, and let us just say it was not the monkeys.

Our stay with the monkeys was cut short as we were in a rush to make a press conference scheduled for tonight that would highlight our upcoming game. OK, so we missed the press conference. We were not even close to making it on time. But can you blame us?

As I sit in my hotel room on the fifth floor with a view over Panama City, which is large enough and nice enough to be mistaken for an apartment, I realize how football is not the focus of this trip. Football is merely the means. And it is only Thursday, so you will have to catch up with me when I return to hear about everything else.

PS – Hi Mom. Hi Dad.

May 17, 2006

Yams, a Mountain, and Me

Chad Peterman '09 - This morning I woke up and was surprisingly cold. I say surprisingly because the day before I sweat more than I ever have in my life. The reason I was so cold was that we had turn the air conditioning up to the max in order to cool down the previous night.  Breakfast was delicious and after that we got started out on our day. 

We journeyed to another farm to do some more work much like the day before.  his farm, however, was not the easiest to get too. Our bus climbed hills and went down hills that I would attempt to navigate in my own car. We did arrive safely, thanks to our bus drivers that could possible qualify for the Indy 500 in their tour bus. The speed limit is of no concern to them. 

When we arrived we split up jobs and got to work. I along with nine other daring souls decided we would dig for yams. I thought this sounded kind of fun and a lot better than digging a pond which some of my teammates were doing. One of the men took us back up the path to show us how to dig for yams and everything was going great until he veered off the original path, took out his machete, and started blazing a new trail on the side of a rather steep hill. The crew and I looked at each other and realized digging for yams was not going to be as fun as we first thought. 

We finally made it to the hill where the yams were grown and we were instructed on how dig the yams out of the ground. We dug up yams all morning long until it was time for lunch. It was tough work because of the fact that we were standing on a hill the entire time. We had a yam soup and rice for lunch which was very tasty. My yam digging group and I reminded the rest of the team multiple times that it was because of us that they were eating lunch. 

After lunch we dug out the rest of the yams at the top of the hill we were working on and then I made a crucial mistake that my lower back is still reminding me about. I took a turn transporting the yams in a homemade basket. I learned two valuable lessons during this activity, yams are heavy and carrying them down hills only makes them feel heavier. I should also mention that it rained the entire afternoon which offered some relief from the heat. 

One added incentive to working in Panama compared to at home is the wonderful scenery.  We had a postcard backdrop to work in front of all day long which made the work a little easier.  However, at the end of the day we were all reminded of how much it meant to the people that we were out there lending a hand.  They mentioned that the work we did would have taken them months to accomplish.  So far, after two days on this trip we have made a tremendous impact on the people here.  Making an impact on people is something we can all smile about.   

Blazing a Trail

Dan Masterson '09 - When I woke up today I felt like a little kid on Christmas Morning; I ran down the hotel stairs and saw exactly what I was hoping for, my long lost luggage!

From that point on I have to say was I looking forward to our day’s activities since they couldn’t have possible been worse than working all day and then hiking for nearly two hours sandals and khakis which I had been wearing since we left C-ville ( which would’ve been alright in some proper clothing). 

We continued our service project helping another family with their farm up in the mountains.  I honestly can’t get enough of the scenery up there.  Everything from the bottom of the valley to the top of the mountains are just breathtaking.  There are some very pretty flowers and plants, some really neat falcons with a forked tail , and other flora that are just awesome.  But as for the farm work, I was put on “trail blazing” duty.  Seven of us( Coach Creighton, Coach Lemmond, Scott Liska, Will Certain, Pat Millikan, Mark Ellis, and myself) had the pleasure of tearing apart mountain terrain and creating an easier trail for the families to get to the farm.  To be absolutely humble, we most certainly blazed that trail, and honestly I actually wish I had trail like that in my backyard, it’s pretty sweet.  Scott and I were going at it, digging up probably a literal ton of rock and chopping up tree roots from the ground. 

As hot and difficult as it was, it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.  It had started raining at about lunchtime and I think it was the most comfortable I’ve been in doing manual labor in the rain.  The air was warm and the rain was cool, so it felt really nice, I probably could have been out there all day, and I think the rest of the guys could have been too. 

When some people started finishing their jobs I looked around and noticed the energy everyone had in helping and it was just nuts, plain and simple.  We probably would have built a mansion if we had more time.  It has just been great being here and helping these people, we really feel like we’ve made a difference, and we hope we can keep helping people for the remainder of the trip.  But for now I’ve got to go chow on some Latino food, so adios!

I Cannot Think of a More Fulfilling Experience

TJ Schaffer '07 - Today, I realized how fortunate I am to be an American citizen. Our group traveled to a remote farm in the forests of Panama. We witnessed a very simple and impoverished way of life, and more importantly, we worked to improve that way of life. The work our group did in a few hours would have taken them months. We also climbed a small mountain after our daily work. The evening concluded the day with a small festive meal in the small town of Penonome. I can not think of a more fulfilling activity than the work we did on the small farm today.

Panamanians Love Having Impact on Team

Nick Marshal - We arrived in at our hotel in Panama around 2 a.m. on Monday morning utterly exhausted from the travel flight, and we all knew that we would have a tough day in the fields the following morning. Everyone expected the same thing: the hot sun, thick air, and nagging bugs. However we all encountered something different on our first day in this foreign, third world country.

I think everyone expected to be working in a large farm field for many long hours in some sort of beneficial way. The people of Panama welcomed us warmly and greatly appreciated our work. As we wiped the sweat from our brows and cleaned up for lunch, a fellow Panamanian worker addressed the Wabash College football team and staff. He spoke for all of the people of Panama when he said that the work we did was overwhelmingly wonderful, and we did more than they ever expected. In Panama, they made us understand that good help was terribly hard to find.

We ended up plowing numerous fields that would later be used to grow food that would feed hundreds of Panamanians. We started our day around 9 am and by noon the Panamanian workers said that we had done the equivalent of 2 months of work! I think this greatly displays how a group of young men can come together out of a gridiron setting and still provide a surmountable effort to make a difference.

On a personal level, I came to appreciate the country as a whole. As we passed by many Panamanian families, I noticed a happiness in their demeanor that simply cannot be achieved by material things. As I cordially waved to them, they would all flash a golden smile warmer than the sun that they competed with every single day.

The work was tough, but the feeling and gratitude we received for our efforts greatly outweighed any physical discomfort. As a team, we all bonded a little more that day. We all had skeptical outlooks before the trip, but we all grew a little more after that first day. For many of us it was a wake up call. I do not think any of us really realize how lucky we are to have fresh water and comfortable shelter to use every single day. Then again, I think many of us can learn from the love that these Panamanians shared with one another and to our football team. Though that love may not have been expressed to us specifically at all times, they serve as an example of what true happiness involves.

Lastly, we all realized what can happen when young men come together for a motivational purpose. I will never forget the impact that this trip will have on me and the people we interacted with.

Lost Luggage, High Humidity and a Movie

Brian Hilts and Nick Lyons - Monday, May 15th - The Wabash football team had an early rise for breakfast and the traditional mock game this morning before finishing their packing and heading to the Indianapolis airport. Spirits were high among the players, and everyone was anxious to get away from the cold, rainy weather of Indiana. Our first plane, which took us from Indy to Newark, New Jersey, was the definition of a “puddle jumper” with its rather small interior. We got to know our seat partners on a little more personal level. After a brief stay in Jersey, we boarded a much larger plane for our flight to Panama. This was about a five-hour journey made short with the help of Harry Potter and Big Momma’s House 2.

We introduced our team’s slogan and mascot to some of the flight staff, and after seeing a picture of Wally on a player’s hat, a stewardess mentioned how much Coach Creighton looked like him. The high spirits of earlier that morning resurfaced when our Panama experience finally began; however, a few members of our football family, including Coach Creighton and Coach Lemmond, were surprised to find out that their luggage was still back in Indianapolis and never made it to Panama. This didn’t stop the team’s excitement though.

Tomorrow we will start our service work on a farm in a local village. It is almost 1 in the morning right now, and it is about 80 degrees outside and very humid. We are expecting it to be more extreme tomorrow when the sun is out. We are confident that our work there will be greatly appreciated, and we are looking forward to interact with the locals and experience their culture. We also expect to see Bubba Lange drop 15 pounds tomorrow just from sweating in the hot and humid conditions. Currently we are driving to our first destination which is about two hours away from the airport. Our day will be starting early tomorrow, so we intend to get as much sleep as we can.

After Initial Reluctance, Ready to Go!

J.T. Moore - When I reported back to Wabash for the Panama trip, I remember thinking to myself it was too early to be back. Just a week ago I had completed my final exam of my freshman year. I admit I was a little depressed knowing it was summer and I had two-a-day practices awaiting me. This feeling of remorse soon turned to excitement when I saw the other 40 guys in the meeting room. Why was I feeling any depression? I get to go to another country with 40 great guys. This thought fired me up and I know the other guys are fired up as well. We have waited for Monday to come all week.

Now that Monday has arrived, we are all filled with anxiety that is almost unbearable. We all cannot wait to get to panama, help in the fields, see the jungle, visit the canal, lay on the beech, and of course snap up our chin straps and get after it in our game Saturday night. All of these things are great, but this is not what guys are talking about or thinking about the most. I know all of us cannot wait to light up the faces of the children of Panama. We are so lucky here in the United States that we take things for granted. Well, we all have an opportunity to give to others, and there is no greater feeling than that of giving. Every guy has something to give to the children of Panama, and I know this is what every guy is looking forward to the most. This is why I am so fired up to go on this adventure. The people I am going to share it with are unbelievable.

This trip is truly going to be a life changing experience.

Can't Wait to Get Started

Andy Deig - When we reported back for the trip on Wednesday night, we had no idea what kind of demanding preparations that we would have to make for the game against the Panama All-Star team. But we soon found out that we had less than a week to put our team into midseason form. We had to fight through some injuries and some guys in practice filled in positions that they normally do not play. Now that it is all said and done, it has been a fun week, but I know all my teammates agree when I say that I cannot wait to get down to Panama to start our service project and play a little Wabash Football.

Leaving for Panama

Tony Neymeiyer -   After a great week of practice -the same cannot be said about the weather- it's time to pack up and depart for the (hopefully) sunny skies of Panama. After only a few days of practice, we have put together a solid team for the trip. I'm looking forward to getting out of the country and hopefully changing some lives along the way.

Besides the game, I'm mostly looking forward to interacting with the local people, especially the children. The trip promises to be amazing,especially street shopping and a few days of R&R at the resort!