Valparaiso University women’s basketball senior Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) has embarked upon the adventure of a lifetime.
As part of Athletes in Action, Hamlet is set to voyage to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she will participate in a 10-day trip as part of a team of collegiate women’s basketball players from across the country who will compete and train alongside Ethiopian university and professional teams. She is currently at the Athletes in Action headquarters in Xenia, Ohio for a four-day training camp prior to the trip to Africa, which runs from June 2-13.
“Athletes in Action is a faith-based group and our goal is to teach the people over there how we play for the glory of God,” Hamlet said. “I’m excited to be around like-minded people who also play basketball and share my faith. Growing up in a small town, this experience will be eye-opening in a number of ways. I don’t know what to expect; the only countries I’ve been to are Canada and the United States.”
Hamlet, who enters the 2018-2019 season as Valpo’s leading returning scorer at 11.6 points per game, never anticipated she’d receive this opportunity.
“Playing Division-I basketball is very demanding on its own, and I take classes and work out during the summer,” Hamlet said. “I didn’t think it was something I’d ever have the chance to do. However, Athletes in Action reached out to me with a personalized message around the time of our conference tournament this year. My family and I prayed about it a lot together, and it worked out perfectly.”
The tour will provide a rich, life-changing experience for all participants and offer ample opportunity to share the love of Christ with the people, players and fans of Ethiopia.
Since 1966, Athletes in Action (AIA) has been using sports as a platform to help people answer questions of faith and point them to Jesus. The Ethiopia tour is one of nearly 30 international competing teams that AIA will send out this summer.
“I had to raise quite a bit of money to make it happen,” Hamlet said. “The support I’ve had from the people of Valpo and McBain has been extremely humbling. Being a part of Valpo’s team is incredible, so getting the opportunity to be with a different team for two weeks will be an exciting experience.”
The players will do missionary work, play against the Ethiopian national team, visit schools, attend church and share their testimony during the 10-day stay in Africa.
“This will help guide me with what I want to do in the future,” Hamlet said. “I could see myself doing another trip like this. Working with Athletes in Action as part of my career would be awesome as well. It’s nice to be around people who share the same beliefs and who want to go play basketball and honor our faith in what we do.”
The roster consists of Lexie Arkwright (Grove City College), Hannah Blakley (Indiana University East), Mariah Danuser (Southern Wesleyan University), Princess’Imani Dawson (Nyack College), Kelly Funderburk (University of North Carolina - Wilmington), Paige Gregory (Yellowstone Christian College), Hamlet, Holland Jerrolds (Maryville College), Aysia Shellmire (Westmont College), Jacklyn Stewart (Desales University), and Bonnie Durrett (King
University). The team will be coached by Lynn Plett (University of Colorado – Colorado Springs) and Jacklyn Stewart (Desales University), directed by Athletes in Action staff member Ryan Orshoski, and assisted by Athletes in Action staff members Holly Murray and Bonnie Durrett.