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ISSUE 116 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/18/2002

Spain opens eyes, spirit for men's basketball coach

By Molly McGraw
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 18, 2002

Life is more than just a livelihood. This statement is one of many found in the St. Olaf mission. However, living in a culture where time too often equals money can make it harder to realize than one would imagine. At times it is necessary to go beyond one’s usual surroundings in order to realize the things that make a difference in life back home. Men’s basketball coach Dan Kosmoski took just that type of eye-opening trip this summer when he traveled to Spain with a group called Athletes in Action. Athletes in Action combine their love of basketball with their faith. They travel around the world with teams of people from many different countries and backgrounds. This year’s team was composed of players from Colorado, Arizona, Tennessee, and Ohio as well as Croatia and Lithuania. Kosmoski was one of the team’s two coaches. The group played in both Frigilinia and Malaga, outlying areas that are less affluent than most. After each game a member of the group shared a story about their faith with both teams as well as their spectators. "It was a really incredible experience," said Kosmoski. "We played three games the first week we were there!" The team’s second game started at 11:30 at night and ended with a post-game meal being served at about 2:00 a.m. Even with all of the activity going on, the group still managed to have daily Bible study and work with children from the community who were attending a camp in the same building. Kosmoski’s team also had the opportunity to play one of the country’s top club teams. It was close, with the scores tight for most of the game. Kosmoski’s team was ahead by one point with 4 seconds to go, but a last-minute basket denied them the victory. "It was incredible how competitive and focused everyone was during the game," said Kosmoski, "but as soon as it was over we all came together to share and witness the love of the Lord." When they weren’t playing basketball or working in the community, Kosmoski and the rest of the group were able to experience some of the cultural diversity of Spain. They attended a local festival and even a bull fight. "It was rough watching the first bull go down, but it was a cultural experience. That’s part of the education in travel," said Kosmoski. Language was one of the biggest barriers for the group to overcome. The team occasionally ate with their competitors after the game which was a bit difficult, but lots of fun for the players. A local man translated the more difficult points of conversation, but the team used Spanish as often as possible as a token of respect. Although the main purpose of the trip was to help inspire faith in those they met, the group members, including Kosmoski, got more back than they had imagined. In spite of the hardships of travel, less then perfect accommodations, and, of course, occasional stomach problems due to unfamiliar food, the group found that they learned much from each other and the people they worked with. "I feel very strongly that I would love to go again sometime down the road," said Kosmoski, who is contemplating another trip with the group to Lithuania next summer. "I met people I hope to keep in contact with my whole life … and I spread out a little of St. Olaf at the same time."

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