Trip is eye-opening experience for Lady Vikings duo
by Doug Gorman
When Northgate softball coach Lisa Skelton and two of her players, Jessica Cochran and Carly Alderman, look back at what they did this summer, what happened on the diamond will be of little significance.
All three took part in a life-changing experience when they went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic with a group from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Part of the Dominican Republic is known for tourism because of the tropical climate, but much of the Spanish-speaking nation lives in terrible poverty. Still, it was an eye-opening experience for the trio from Northgate who are all used to luxuries such as clean running water.
Still, the group found the citizens of the country warm and welcoming during their visit.
“The people were always smiling,” Skelton said. “They don’t know any different. One of the things they taught us is how we talked to them cultur- ally. “We would tell them, we are so blessed, but they are blessed from where they are. There are some people who are downtrodden, but you also have some people over there who are doing some great work and reaching out to others.”
None of the group knew what to expect, but realized it was going to be about a whole lot more than softball.
“It exceeded my expectations and so much more,” Alderman said. “I am glad I went. I would do it again without a doubt.”
All three were impressed by the citizens of the Dominican Republic outlook on life.
“When you go out there, you can’t help but smile,” Cochran said. “They are so happy. You can have the worst day and they put a smile on your face.
The softball team assembled by FCA put on clinics and played every day against high school-aged girls as part of the mission trip, but the journey was about more than base hits and fielding ground balls. The main focus of the trip was reaching out and helping others.
“The softball was very good and we enjoyed it, but one of the best parts about the trip was getting to bond and spending time with some of the young girls,” Alderman said.
It was also a time for some self-reflection.
“Carly and I both got saved,” Cochran said. “It is truly a life-changing event. It touches your heart on a whole new level. It is hard to put words to it.”
Skelton, Cochran and Alderman came away with a new perspective from the trip as they gear up for another high school softball season, starting next week.
“Every place we went, the young girls are being led by wonderful Godly women, and they don’t feel sad,” Skelton said. “There is great hope.”
The Northgate coach who has won two state titles with the Lady Vikings and finished as the Class AAAAA runner up last year is gearing up for another season, but already has sights set on a return trip to the Dominican Republic next year.
“I am a big advocate of going back,” Skelton said. “I am trying to get a big group going from our county. I think that would be great.”