Women’s lacrosse players take love of the game to Jamaica

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With their sticks and equipment in hand, two Guilford women lacrosse players traveled to Jamaica’s Riverton City, the location of a trash dump.

“The conditions were absolutely disgusting, and it smelled terrible,” said junior Courtney Morsberger. “The worst part about it is that kids who live there acted as though it was normal.”

For 10 days, Morsberger and sophomore Jorden Yeargan spent their time interacting with locals, sightseeing and teaching lacrosse.

The girls traveled with volunteers to Riverton City through the non-profit Fields of Growth. Not only did they play lacrosse with the kids for several hours a day, but they also visited the kids at their school.

“Everyone was so nice there, and the kids had so much joy for life,” said Yeargan. “Everyone in Jamaica is really athletic, so the kids picked up the sport very quickly. They were also very competitive, always competing against one another.”

Fields of Growth recruits student-athletes who play lacrosse from universities across the nation, like Nicole Hancock, a senior at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. While in Jamaica, she accompanied the Guilford girls as they visited the Bob Marley Museum, shopped at local craft fairs and chilled out with locals.

“We had a New Year’s Eve party on the beach with tons of food and a giant bonfire,” said Hancock. “On New Year’s Day, we went to the school and helped serve food and hand out presents to all the kids we had coached in lacrosse the last week.”

Director and Founder of Fields of Growth Kevin Dugan guided the excursion for the volunteers in Jamaica and had great things to say about Morsberger and Yeargan.

“Courtney and Jorden brought such a positive attitude to the trip,” said Dugan. “They did a great job coaching, but more importantly brought huge hearts for those in need.”

At first, the parents of Yeargan and Morsberger were apprehensive and worried, but after further research, they became encouraged.

“I thought it sounded like a unique opportunity to build community outreach and offer kids a sport,” said Deborah Underwood, Yeargan’s mother, in an email interview. “I was a bit concerned about her traveling into an unknown situation. We were able to see uploaded pictures on the website, which really helped knowing where they were staying and what they were doing each day.”

“We had great confidence in the organization that ran the trip, as Courtney had gone with them on another mission trip this past summer in Uganda,” said Morsberger’s father, Mike Morsberger, in an email interview. “We knew this trip would strengthen her commitment to charitable action and provide an unforgettable experience.”

Not only did the girls adjust to scorching temperatures, they also adapted to the culture’s diet, which meant chicken and rice every night. The group of volunteers lodged with Jamaican surfing legend Billy Wilmot and his family. In addition, the crew met some of Bob Marley’s relatives and visited his old house.

“Staying with a Jamaican family made the experience more authentic,” said Yeargan. “When we all needed to get around, instead of getting on a bus, Billy would call a local to drive us around.”

Morsberger appreciated the selflessness of members of the community, noticing that they were willing to help others first.

“Even though these kids were in an unhealthy environment, they were all so happy,” said Morsberger. “Jamaican lifestyle isn’t about you, it’s about the community. They really believe in ‘one love.’”

In love with lacrosse, the Guilford girls offered their time and energy by accepting this rare juncture.

“I think it’s wonderful for my athletes to see other opportunities with lacrosse,” said Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach Sarah Lamphier. “Doing service work and community outreach is a phenomenal thing. For both Jorden and Courtney to combine the two, I just love it.”

Both Yeargan and Morsberger have said the trip was life changing and, without a doubt, something they will never forget.

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