Cats Across Continents: K-State student-athletes embark on international service trip 

K-State Athletics Communications

Student-athletes and staff from Kansas State University traveled to Costa Rica for a service trip in May. (Photo: Thinkstock)

A group of 16 student-athletes and four staff members from Kansas State University teamed up with Courts for Kids for a nine-day international trip to Costa Rica that provided the group with a once-in-a-lifetime service opportunity.

The “Cats Across Continents” team departed Manhattan, Kansas, for Linea, Vieja, Costa Rica, on May 17 and spent nine days experiencing the culture and working with the local community and Courts for Kids teammates building a multi-purpose sports court from the ground up. The court will be utilized by area youth and physical education teachers, in addition to being a landing place for community events.

“A trip such as this is another example of how we are committed to enhancing the overall student-athlete experience at K-State,” said Cori Pinkett, director of student-athlete development. “Our partnership with Courts for Kids and this trip allow us to provide an opportunity for student-athletes to conduct service work internationally while also learning and experiencing the culture and country. To be fully engrained into a community for nine days will be a life-changing experience for our team.” 

Along with building the multipurpose court, the student-athletes had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the community with cultural dance lessons, language classes and soccer games. The group also participated in a cook-off where the student-athletes prepared BBQ cuisine — complete with the sauce they brought from home — for their Costa Rican hosts.

Because of their hectic schedules balancing class, training and competition, a majority of student-athletes are unable to study or serve abroad during their years at K-State. However, through this program, dubbed “Cats Across Continents,” they now have the opportunity to get out and explore the world for the first time.

Before the Costa Rica trip, K-State student-athletes talked about how excited they were for this opportunity. 

“This will be my first time going to another country so I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m looking forward to really understanding and seeing their culture,” said football student-athlete Dante Barnett. “All I know is the American way, so going somewhere else and learning their culture is going to be really fun.”

“I’ve never had the opportunity to go abroad or do any sort of mission work because of sports. My involvement in sports has always kept me away from being able to engage in this sort of service abroad trip, so I’m really excited to finally serve on a trip like this for the first time,” said rowing junior Noelle Dykmann. “I’m looking forward to learning a new culture and really immersing myself in it. I’m excited to learn how they live, to step outside of myself, get out of my own comfort zone and learn how someone else lives.”

 Cats Across Continents student-athletes

• Iva Bago, women’s tennis
• Dante Barnett, football
• Livia Cirmu, women’s tennis
• Megan Deines, women’s basketball
• Noelle Dykmann, women’s rowing
• Kennedy Felice, women’s rowing
• Madi Haney '16, women’s rowing
• Nicholle Hatton, equestrian
• Paige Kemper, equestrian
• Gretchen Koenen, equestrian
• Miranda Larkin, women’s soccer
• Shaelyn Martin, women’s basketball
• Erin Smith, women’s track and field
• Dane Steen, men’s track and field
• Steven West, football
• Tyler White, football

Cats Across Continents isn't K-State's only Costa Rica connection. Luis Guillermo Solís, president of Costa Rica, recently visited K-State as part of the Landon Lecture Series. Watch a recording of the presentation. 

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