On August 9th, 2013 Shelton Collier led Wingate’s womens volleyball team across international borders and into the Central American nation of Nicaragua. The 8 day tour was a combination of competitive matches against Nicaragua’s national team, community service in underprivileged local schools and adventure activities featuring the country’s unique natural beauty and wildlife.
The first showdown took place in Nicaragua’s capital city of Managua. Nicaragua defended their territory by sweeping Wingate in 3 straight sets 26-24, 2-225, 25-21. The very next morning the Wingate marched back into the gym and prevailed with a hard-fought marathon five set win tallying 25-22, 25-15, 24-26, 19-25, 19-17.
The third pivotal match in the series took Wingate to an outdoor concrete court just steps from the beautiful beaches of San Juan del Sur. The open-air outdoor facility offered all the sights and sounds of a typical Latin American city, including beautiful views, thumping music, noisy vendors and ecstatic fans. Unfortunately torrential rain forced the relocation of the match to the Centro Civico (an indoor facility) in the middle of game two. Despite the excitement of the thunderstorm and the distraction of the mid-match move, the Wingate girls were able to pull off an impressive 4 game victory 29-27, 25-19, 21-25, 25-22.
The fourth and final match took place in Granada; Nicaragua’s oldest colonial city and an internationally recognized world heritage site.Wingate dominated the home team in a 3 game victory over Nicaragua 25-17, 25-18, 25-22.
“We wanted our players to adapt and grow outside of their comfort zones on this trip”, Collier said. The trip to Nicaragua was a golden opportunity to do just that. While volleyball was the focus of the trip, most on tour agreed that the community service was the highlight.
The Bulldogs brought dozens of bags filled with school supplies, volleyball gear and clothing to donate to those in need. The team dedicated hours visiting local schools to distribute library books, teach, read and play sports with the young Nicaraguan students. Wingate’s visit to Nicaragua contributed to the development of education and volleyball in a nation recognized as the 2nd poorest nation in the Americas, second only to Haiti. Wingate set an example for volleyball teams everywhere and they set the bar high.