Eastern coaches give back


Three active Eastern University athletic coaches, among others, traveled to El Salvador this past summer in order to give back to the struggling community. The dedicated coaches were women’s basketball coach, Nathan Davis, women’s soccer coach, Dan Mouw and softball coach, Brittany Stroop.


The Eastern coaches and former alumni Tyler Clabaugh took part in the beneficial TLA program which Clabaugh founded. TLA is a non-profit sports ministry program that stands for Training Leaders through Athletics.


“The coaches did an excellent job,” said Clabaugh. “They were among the best group I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”


They spent the majority of the time in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, working in prisons and local churches with children and former gang members. Their first task was to help a church with different physical activities intended to encourage kids to keep active and away from gangs.


“We try to build men of influence. We want to keep the kids away from gangs, as the gangs target young kids,” said Clabaugh.


First year Mario Martinez, attended the trip and worked with Clabaugh as a translator in the TLA ministry program.


“It was tough talking through a translator, but when the gang members began to trust us and feel comfortable, it was a unique experience,” said Coach Davis.


The coaches spent one day in a high maximum prison alongside the prison ministry. Upon entry, they were searched four times.


“All I was allowed to carry in was my identification and my passport. They were very strict,” Davis said.


Each coach was in charge of organizing a tournament for the inmates. Coach Mouw started a soccer tournament, and Coach Davis started a basketball tournament.


“It was an amazing time to work with people at a rock bottom point of their lives” said Coach Mouw. American football intrigued the inmates, so Coaches Mouw and Davis set up an unplanned football clinic in which the entire prison yard participated.


“The only thing protecting me from the inmates was God. It really puts everything into perspective,” said Mouw.


Coach Stroop had a bit of a different experience. While the male coaches went to the prison yard, Stroop visited a local orphanage. The orphanage was founded by the church, and was designed to serve children whose mothers were prostitutes.


“We saw huge strides with the children,” Stroop said. “I won’t forget the prayer service everyone participated in. Hearing different languages and different voices praying out loud is a unique experience. It was the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard, and it brought me to joyful tears”.


Over a 12 day missions trip, these coaches impacted the lives of kids spiritually, physically and mentally. Even thought the relationships were built in El Salvador, the coaches have been keeping in touch by using Facebook and Google translator, which allows them to continue to feel a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment. 

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