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T.E.A.M. Camp Participants Q&A


In January 2017, Soccer Without Borders hosted the 10th Annual T.E.A.M. Camp in Granada, Nicaragua. Seventeen volunteers from across the United States, representing a range of college and professional soccer programs, traveled to Nicaragua to coach at our week-long soccer camp to kick off the new year, and play two matches against the Nicaraguan Women’s National Team. The acronym T.E.A.M. is "Spanglish" standing for "trabajando en equipo aprendemos mas" or "working as a team we learn more." In this spirit, we caught up with a few of our volunteers after they returned home to hear what they took away from the experience. Read their (unedited) interviews below!

Grace Orr: Amherst College

1. Tell us what originally motivated you to be a part of TEAM Camp.

I found out about SWB as I first began to look at Amherst College when a coach at the time/former Amherst player described her experience as a year long volunteer in Nicaragua. Immediately, it sounded like something I would be interested in. When I was 16 I spent two weeks at an orphanage in Honduras, and since then I have always wanted to spend more time in Central America. I love soccer so much and I love people and SWB seemed like such a great way to combine the two and get back to Central America. Hopefully I one day work up the courage to spend more than two weeks at a time down there!

2. What was your favorite moment from TEAM Camp?

My favorite moment from TEAM Camp was the dance show at the end of the last day. I had lost my voice between trying to rile up the girls and helping them sing as they prepared their dances. As I stood in front of everyone to announce each group’s dance at the end of it, my voice cracked left and right and everyone laughed. I didn’t care at all though because it felt like loving laughs, and when each dance was performed I was so proud of the girls I had gotten to known throughout the week and so proud of what we had accomplished together.

3. Who did you most enjoy meeting at TEAM Camp?

I most enjoyed meeting Doña Chilo. Even though I was a complete stranger staying in her home and we didn’t get to spend much time together, she felt like such a loving mother to me within no time. I remember going back to my room the first night and seeing my bed made for me, and was so overwhelmed with gratitude for her. My real mom doesn’t make my bed! Plus, she taught me how to make Nicaraguan guacamole, was super concerned when a scorpion bit my hand, and introduced me to her grandson Aaron. She was just so genuinely kind.

4. What did you learn from this experience?

I learned that you can make great friends in very little time and in very unexpected places. Not only were all the other volunteers so unbelievably friendly, kind, and interesting, all of the campers were as well! One nine-year-old girl, Cajory (spelling? pronounced: Sa-hor-ee), spent over an hour talking to me because she wanted to help me learn Spanish words, and in turn I got to teach her some English. After the international game she ran up to me and, knowing we’d never see each other again, said, “Que te vayas bien.” It was so sad but so cute. I hope Cajory will always consider me her friend.

5. Share your favorite picture from the week!

Us and Doña Chilo after she helped us make Tuna pasta and guacamole for the closing dinner!

Brooke Webster: University of New Mexico

1. Introduce yourself sentences and tell us what originally motivated you to be a part of TEAM Camp.

I’ve been playing soccer since I was 4 years old and was fortunate enough to get to play for UNM. When I learned about TEAM Camp 2017 through my head coach (Heather Dyche), I applied to be a part of the experience immediately. I’ve felt the impact that soccer can have on an individual’s life, and I was so excited to be able to share that empowerment with young girls in Granada.

2. What was your favorite moment from TEAM Camp?

Picking one favorite moment is really tough when there is whole week filled with incredible moments. One particular moment that stands out to me is walking down the street to the field from Tres Pesos next to one of the girls, working together to try and balance one of the portable soccer goals on our heads as we walked.

3. Who did you most enjoy meeting at TEAM Camp?

I’m not sure how I can choose between all of the great people… Between the campers (all the girls were fun-loving and patient with us volunteers as we struggled to form proper Spanish sentences), the local coaches (amazing people, coaches, and role models, doing great things for the girls in the SWB program), and of course the other volunteers - getting to spend the week with other people with a common mindset and similar life priorities was pretty special. We all clicked right off the bat and had so much fun together, sharing a really cool new experience. They are people I definitely will continue to be friends with for a really long time. And what’s cool is getting to easily maintain friendships through social media with many of the people I got to meet during TEAM Camp, regardless of distance and language.

4. What did you learn from this experience?

I learned that using soccer (or any other sport) as a vehicle for positive change is so real. It doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you come from, when you play together and kick a ball around, you get to connect and share a love that is equal to any and all who play. Using sports to connect, build relationships, and empowerment makes sense and is a realistic means of creating a more peaceful place that we can all live in.

5. Share your favorite picture from the week!

Andi Tostanoski: Seattle Reign | Colorado College Coach

1. Introduce yourself and tell us what originally motivated you to be a part of TEAM Camp.

I’m originally from Colorado, spent four years at Santa Clara University in the Bay Area, then went on to play professionally with the Seattle Reign FC. I have now moved on from professional soccer and have started my college coaching career at Colorado College in my hometown of Colorado Springs. As a lifelong soccer player and coach, when I first learned about the 2017 TEAM camp I was ecstatic. It has been one of my dreams to be able to travel, meet new people, and learn more about the world we live in all while either playing or coaching soccer. This Soccer Without Borders event gave me the opportunity to be among such a vibrant and welcoming community and be able to share some incredible time with them both on and off the soccer field.

2. What was your favorite moment from TEAM Camp?

Each moment I spent in Nicaragua was special for its own reasons, but one moment that I will never forget was directly after our SWB team played the Nicaraguan National team the second time in Managua. All of our girls from Granada were there, cheering on a bunch of girls they hardly knew, all because we took the time away from our lives to come spend a week with them in their community. While the co-founder of SWB was speaking post-game, I remember her emphasizing how wonderful it is that this national team was now dominating and winning games that they used to lose just a few years before. I remember her saying how important what this program does for the community because it helps give their girls the resources needed to get an education, to get to the highest levels of futbol in their country, and the passion to give back to the communities that they came from. This moment proves time and time again just how important a little bit of each of our time’s can mean to someone.

3. Who did you most enjoy meeting at TEAM Camp?

My favorite people to meet were all of the SWB girls. It was interesting because I couldn’t communicate well with most of them because of the language barrier, and yet I feel like I was able to learn so much from them because we all shared a love of the game, and my hope, that they were able to learn a little from me. It was such a fulfilling experience because all the volunteers were able to be submersed in a whole new situation and culture.

4. What did you learn from this experience?

Brooke Webster said it perfectly our last day of camp, “Do well, but most importantly, do good.” Her words stuck with me because I think that was a most important thing I learned while I was in Nicaragua; that good intentions are not enough to make a difference, it takes to action, reflection, and revolution to truly do any sort of “good.” There was so many amazing learning opportunities that come from an experience like this, but what I am excited to take home is the understanding that each of us has the power to be great and to do great, but we must first recognize, understand, and act based on the situation, the people, and their culture, otherwise our efforts often fall short of actually making a difference and doing great things.

5. Share your favorite picture from the week!

#Nicaragua #camp #International #Volunteer

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