Feature Story

Bishop Cagers Visit Costa Rica

July 31, 2014 – by Mark Beckenbach

Matt Jeske ’16 instructs on the two-handed dunk. (Photo courtesy of Caroline Welker ’15)

Ohio Wesleyan basketball players Matt Jeske ’16, Caroline Welker ’15, and Dre White ’14, along with Battling Bishop men’s basketball coach Mike DeWitt ’87, were part of a summer trip to Costa Rica to play and teach basketball, as well as travel and experience the country.

“The athletic side of the trip was shaped around a 4-game schedule and the opportunity to work three clinics for local youngsters learning the game of basketball,” Jeske said. “The first of the four games was very interesting as we Americans had to adapt to the foreign style of play and rules. The biggest difference between the states and foreign game is the increased physicality. Defenders are allowed to hand-check the ballhandler, which is taught from a young age, as opposed to basketball in the States, which teaches moving your feet and not using your hands. The games proved to be incredibly fun and the opponents were kind and willing to chat throughout the competition.”

“We gave two clinics to children in Costa Rica, to help teach them some fundamentals of basketball,” Welker said. “It was difficult to do this because of the language barrier, everyone spoke Spanish and most of our Spanish was limited. But it was an awesome experience nonetheless.

“We played four games. We played a professional team in Costa Rica as well as the International Team in Costa Rica. Playing basketball down there was a unique experience because they have no hand checking rule so we had to learn how to play through a lot of contact, which was a great learning experience but also helped us get better.”

Apart from playing and teaching, the Battling Bishop contingent also got to take in some of the sights and take part in an event of great national significance.

“We traveled and saw two beaches and stayed two nights there,” Welker said. “We also went ziplining in the rainforest and to a hot spring. It was an amazing experience to play with a group of some of the best basketball athletes across the country, and to experience Costa Rica’s culture and the beauty of their country. We also got to celebrate (Costa Rica’s) World Cup win against Greece…(it) was amazing to see how much pride Costa Ricans have for their soccer team and their country.”

“One of the biggest takeaways from the trip was the opportunity to help promote and develop the game of basketball with the youth in Costa Rica,” Jeske said. “The kids were so excited and anxious to work with us, making it a very special experience. The most difficult aspect was the language barrier, however, even with my minimal Spanish skills I was able to communicate basic ideas. Even if only one of those kids gained interest in the game, I feel it was a major accomplishment and I enjoyed it thoroughly.”

(Photos courtesy of Caroline Welker ’15)