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Men's and women's soccer teams prepare to zipline down a volcano overlooking Lake Arenal in Costa Rica.

Women’s soccer team gives their cleats, gear to Costa Rican opponents

Men's and women's soccer teams prepare to zipline down a volcano overlooking Lake Arenal in Costa Rica.
August 30, 2013

When the men’s and women’s soccer teams traveled to Costa Rica this summer, they experienced more than just a tropical vacation. Competing against local teams provided the student athletes with an unplanned community service opportunity when they realized some of their opponents lacked athletic gear.

Kirsten Burks ’15 wrote on the team blog that on their second day in Costa Rica, they gave away some old equipment to a team with fewer resources.

The women’s team did not stop there. After their last game, they literally gave the opposing team the clothes off their backs.

“I watched one of our players take her cleats off to give them to a player on the other team who did not have any. I watched our goal keeper give her brand new gloves to the other keeper who was wearing cotton winter gloves and all of our players returned home with fewer clothes as so many were given out to others on the trip,” said Sandy Lagana, head coach of the women’s soccer team.

Meghan Sturgill ’15 was amazed at the enthusiasm of her opposing teams.

“They were thrilled at the opportunity to just play a single game,” Sturgill blogged. “There were girls of all different ages, all together just for the love of the game. It was truly an amazing time and experience.”

Lagana explained that playing soccer in a country where it is the primary sport made for a unique experience.

“It was amazing how many people would come to the games, even though we weren’t playing in a league or for a championship,” she said.

The trip, which happens every four years, did include notable vacation moments such as zip lining down the Arenal Volcano, white-water rafting, and relaxing by the beach; Lagana said the most important part about competing internationally was the opportunity to experience another culture.

The student-athletes explored local markets, attempted to speak Spanish, narrowly avoided some crocodiles, and of course, played a lot of soccer.

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