2011 Navy Women's Lacrosse Summer Highlights

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Following a second straight Patriot League Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, the Navy women's lacrosse team embarked on a variety of different activities all over the world during this past summer.

Senior defender Kierstin King, an oceanography major from Upperco, Md., spent over two weeks in South Africa volunteering for Beam Africa through Campus Crusade For Christ (Cru). Cru is a ministry that is active on over 1,000 college campuses in the United States. King traveled with several other Cru members from around the country. The group was stationed in the village of Nellmapius, just outside of Pretoria.

Beam Africa is a permanent organization that relies on volunteers such as King to enhance its mission of providing relief for children and adults in South Africa. Beam Africa provides food, clothing, employment training, after-school care and many other services.

There are a number of different volunteer options through Cru, but selecting Beam Africa was an easy choice for King.

"I love working with kids and I saw that we would be playing sports with them," King said. "I immediately knew it was something that I would really enjoy and it worked perfect with my leave schedule."

King was in South Africa during a break in classes for the local school children, giving the volunteers virtually the entire day to spend time with the children that attend Beam's Nellmapius Development Center. King spent the days playing sports with the children and doing other summer camp type activities.

The opportunity to spend two weeks in South Africa building relationships with children was exciting for King in its own right, but she took it a step further. King, with the help of a Naval Academy classmate, secured a large donation of lacrosse sticks and balls to bring to South Africa and teach the sport to the children.

"The children had never seen a lacrosse stick before," King said. "They had no idea what to do with them. The first thing we had to do was teach them how to hold it."

King had to start slow, beginning with the very basics. She related the sport to soccer, with a big difference being that you pass and shoot with your hands and the stick instead of your feet.

"I just wanted to try it out with them, but they really were dedicated to learning how to play. They took an approach of working hard to get better at it and they liked the challenge of learning something new."

King did drills with the children to teach them the fundamental skills of lacrosse and eventually moved up to passing. One 10-year-old girl, Lala, was so committed to learning that she would not put the lacrosse stick down until she got each of the lessons just right.

"We would teach her how to go one way with the stick and she would work and work on it and she had it. Then we showed her how to go left and she stuck with that until she had it down too. We eventually had the children passing with both hands while running down the field. It was amazing."

King gained a first-hand experience of how sports can bring people together from different cultures.

"I used lacrosse as a way to get to know them better and build relationships with the kids. Some of them had experienced a lot of hardships and violence. Some of them don't speak English and they can be intimated. But when you can play a game with them; they are much more likely to open up."

Although the children were the ones being taught an exciting new sport, King was also able to take something away from the daily lacrosse sessions.

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