Personal Reflection by NewCath Alum (2015) and Current NKU Student Drew McDonald while in São Paulo, Brazil.
July 30, 2018 - After 22 hours of travel and a few hours of being back home, I’ve had some time to reflect on the journey I went on these past 2 weeks. And what a journey it was! Not many times you can looks back and think of an event as a life changing experience, but I truly think this is one of those moments for me.
Going into the trip, I knew I had an opportunity to represent the best country playing the sport I love in a place and culture I’ve never been before with a chance to win a gold medal. Yes,I did that. I enjoyed playing basketball against different countries. I got to experience a new culture! Yes, I won the gold! But that was just the top layer of the trip.
I started the trip in Xenia, Ohio spending several days at training camp with 4 American teams (men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball). Getting to know these people personally allowed me to build friendships that will last a lifetime with these athlete from all over the country. One of the coolest parts about this trip is every athlete taking place in the FISU America Games stayed in one hotel (except the Brazilian Athletes). So over 800+ athletes from the Western Hemisphere slept in the same hotel, ate in the same cafeteria, rode the same bus to and from events, and much more! In one day, you could have breakfast with people from Chile, ride the bus next to a Mexican, eat dinner with a team from Argentina, and play cards at night with Columbians. This was not an uncommon occurrence. I had an unbelievable time talking to these other athletes and learning more about their culture and seeing how much we have in common.
Sometimes God’s timing is perfect. Well not sometimes, all the time. This trip came at an impeccable time for me spiritually. I was able to strengthen my relationship with Him through others. He became an even bigger presence in my life. I was able to help spread his word to other athletes and civilians to help Him become a bigger part of their lives as well. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen is how God is a “universal language”. While spreading the word, people from all nationalities understood regardless of the language barrier. While doing this it helped me strengthen my relationship with him.
So at the end of this trip, one thing I’ve learned is that you are always part of something bigger than yourself. Whether it’s on a athletic team, or part of a community, or representing the United States of America, or the biggest most important group being part of God’s children, we all are part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.
I would finally just want to thank #USATeam, Athletes in Action (AIA), Coach Mo, Coach Brannen, all of the donors that helped me find this trip, and anyone else who made this life changing experience possible!