Jessica Allen | Assistant sports editor | @Jessdaleallen
Because He First Loved Us is a “relational ministry to refugee families to meet spiritual, educational and, practical needs through child and family mentoring and resource networking.” Utah Valley University students and student athletes had the chance to partner with BHFLU to host 25 Kenyan refugees on Saturday, Oct. 24 to engage in learning and athletics.
The refugees were all born in Kenya but have been settled in Utah for at least five years.
Ranging from ages 10-19, the refugees came to learn and experience the college life for a few hours. Although it was a travel day for most of the UVU Men’s Soccer team, Tyler Brown, Carter Perry, Colton Cook, Jasper Kirsten and Avery Miller did not travel and volunteered a few hours of their day to play soccer and interact with the kids. They broke up into three teams and played a mini-tournament. Many of the refugees were a bit hesitant to jump out on the field and play and said, “I’m not any good at soccer, I don’t want to play.” But once they all got out there with the student athletes, they were all smiles.
”It was awesome seeing the kids playing soccer and laughing. Soccer brings happiness when you play with your friends,” said Brown “The kids taught me that I’m lucky to play soccer at this level and I need to be more grateful and happier when I play.”
The UVU Men’s basketball team wrapped up their two-a-day practices and spent an hour with the kids.
However, due to NCAA rules, the coaching staff was unable to be very hands-on with the refugees because of recruiting rules. However, director of Basketball Operations, Bobby Horodyski and Assistant Coach Eric Daniels stayed and cheered on the refugees.
A memorable moment was when senior Darius Hamilton watched one of the kids try and dunk the basketball. As he walked away Darius yelled, “One more time, you’ve got this!” and the floor cleared as he nailed the slam-dunk warranting applause from his peers and the athletes.
The evening ended with a dinner with the athletes as they spoke about the importance of education. Telly Davenport, Ivory Young, Hamilton and Brandon Randolph all shared personal stories of how they made their way to UVU and what the university had done in each of their lives.
“These kids have bright futures and if they stick to education first and sports second, we might see a couple of them in UVU jerseys in a few years,” said Ivory Young.
All the refugees were star-struck as they wore their new UVU Basketball shirts and took selfies with the selfless players that spent their Saturday giving back to the community and empowering and inspiring kids from Kenya.