Five ISU Soccer Players Assist Haitians Over Spring Break
AMES, Iowa—While many students spent spring break relaxing on a beach or spending some time at home, Iowa State soccer players Ashley Costanzo, Megan Long, Lauren Fader, Casey Bothwell and Amanda Woelfel went to earthquake-devastated Haiti to aide a country in dire need of assistance.
The ISU soccer players stayed in the northern Haiti city Saint Louis du Nord for five days. The city served as a refuge for Haitians who were devastated by the earthquake in Port au Prince. While in Saint Louis du Nord, the Cyclones stayed in a mission building that did not have air conditioning in a dorm-style room that included approximately 100 cots.
Costanzo, Long, Fader, Bothwell and Woelfel helped people in need by assisting children with special needs, painting churches, working on construction of buildings, teaching soccer clinics, digging trenches to help water irrigation and providing basic medical help.
Long described seeing the devastation in Haiti as an eye-opening experience.
“It was amazing because I had never seen so many people living in such difficult conditions,” she said. “People were living in huts that were just roofs over dirt floors. We would walk around and see kids and adults pointing to their stomachs and mouths because they wanted us to get them food. I went into the experience looking to help people, and it was life changing to see it first-hand.”
Costanzo echoed Long’s sentiment.
“I knew before going to Haiti that it was a poor country from seeing images on TV and the internet,” Costanzo said. “But the images you see can’t do it justice. Once you see kids walking around with no clothes and shoes, you start to really be much more thankful for what you have.”
In addition to growing individually and helping the Haitians, Long described how the bond between the Cyclones who traveled to Haiti was strengthened.
“I think we all have a different perspective on life and how important it is to be there for each other,” she said. “I think that we all grew and the relationships we have with each other have only gotten stronger.”
The Cyclones’ time in Haiti also included a chance to play pick-up soccer with large groups of Haitians. In a country that is passionate about the sport, Long said soccer served as an obvious escape from the difficult situations so many Haitians were in.
“We played a huge pick-up soccer game while we were down there and you could tell how much they loved to play,” Long said. “I was really impressed by how good they all were, especially some of the little kids.”
Costanzo said over 200 Haitian children followed the Cyclones to a soccer field that was made up of dirt, gravel and cinder blocks in order to have a chance to play the world’s game. While the Cyclones got a first-hand view of how soccer can bring individuals from all over the world together, the five ISU players helped the Haitians by donating a number of pieces of soccer equipment that were raised from the Iowa State Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and Sheels.
From the way Long and Costanzo described their experience in Haiti, both the Cyclones and the Haitians mutually benefited from the Iowa State soccer players’ time in Haiti.