My cup is still full from the time I had with [the Lady Eagles]. These girls are truly so special in the way they exude joy and serving others. It was the most unique group of women I have ever been around. What a blessing they have been here in Thailand to SO many… I think it was one of the most beneficial short-term trips I have seen! The women truly walked away empowered to lead their ministries back home better!
-Jessica Peroyea; Volunteer with Sports Friends International
Journeying over to Thailand was an amazing experience that stretched us individually and collectively as a team. By attending local Thai churches and working with Sports Friends, I was able to witness the vastness of our Creator that transcends language and cultural barriers. I was impacted and encouraged by the boldness of the Thai believers.
-Jenn Ludemann; Lady Eagles Captain
The joy of the Lord was evidently the strength of the 2016 Lady Eagles team.
After two weeks of preseason and Sports Ministry Training in Charlotte, the team took off for tour in Thailand at the end of May where they spent two weeks partnering with Sports Friends International and their local ministry. According to the players, hosting the first ever retreat for Thai Female Coaches in Thailand was the most gratifying experience of the trip. Although a bit shy and hesitant at first, both the Lady Eagles and the Thai women quickly discovered the power of laughter and sport as a means to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers. As the two groups spent time learning, training and playing together a special bond was formed between the older Thai women (many of whom are mothers and work full-time jobs in addition to coaching Thai volleyball teams) and the college-aged team from Charlotte. By the end of the retreat, many tears were spilled as the women all took pictures together and said goodbye. The Thai coaches expressed that they were deeply impacted by the joy and authenticity of the Lady Eagles and that they were very encouraged, refreshed and inspired to go back to their teams and continue to make an impact on their young players. Likewise, the Lady Eagles continued to talk about the Thai coaches for the rest of the season and allegedly even wrote a song about a few of them.
Upon returning to Charlotte, the momentum from the Thailand experience carried the Lady Eagles through the following five weeks as they continued to put all that they had learned into practice. The team competed in a total of 7 exhibition matches during the 2016 season, finishing with a record of 4-1-2. They also helped make up the staff for several Charlotte Eagles camps and clinics where they were able to use their Sports Ministry Training to teach and train young kids from the Charlotte community.
As the season of being trained and equipped in sports ministry came to a close, the team spent time reflecting on all that they had learned and how God had moved in each of their lives through their time in Charlotte. They were prayed over and commissioned by Pat Stewart (MAI President), David Sanford (U.S. Director of MAI) and the Lady Eagles Staff. The majority of the Lady Eagles are being sent back to college campuses for their fall seasons where they hope to impact their teams by sharing stories, implementing what they learned, and walking in the confidence and joy that comes from profoundly experiencing the Lord.