Student athletes partner with Courts for Kids for volunteer trip to Belize


Students and Staff pose for a picture in Belize during Kent State’s partnership with Courts for Kids.

William Kovach

Kent State partnered with Courts for Kids to send 19 student athletes and four staff members to Belize in May to build a multipurpose athletic court.

The court’s primary use is for volleyball, soccer and basketball, but it may also be used for community celebrations and dances.

Katie Schilling, assistant director of student athlete development at Kent State, organized the trip.

“We’re able to give (student athletes) the chance of the study abroad experience, which they’re not normally able to do because of their athletic commitment,” Schilling said.

The students and staff stayed in the Mayan town of Aguacate, Belize, which is home to about 400 people.

Ultimately, the goal of the trip was to have the students and staff come back with an appreciation of what they have in Kent and to learn about the culture of Belize, Schilling said.  

Senior football player James Alexander participated in the trip.

“I learned that you don’t need a lot to still enjoy life,” he said. “The people over (in Belize) don’t have as much as we have here in the states, but every day they get up and do what they have to do.”

Alexander said he liked being a member of and forming relationships within the community of Aguacate.

Sophomore construction management major Lizz Hathaway represented Kent State’s women’s soccer team on the trip.  

“We learned a lot about different cultures and how to deal with adversity when things don’t go your way,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway said she thought the trip would be great for some hands-on experience in her field of study.

Courts for Kids is a non-profit organization that brings courts of all kinds to people all over the world. Their mission statement reads: “Transforming lives through building courts and cultural exchange.”

William Kovach is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].