CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA - Summer 2012 is here and the Seton Hall student-athlete contingent has scattered across the globe to enjoy some time off and pursue interests both inside and outside the athletic arena before returning to represent SHU next season.
This summer, Pirate Postcards will feature several Pirates and their summer activities in an effort to provide a glimpse into the life of a student-athlete that extends beyond the box score.
The first-ever postcard comes courtesy of rising junior men's soccer goalkeeper Kevin Bonder (Whippany, N.J.).
In two seasons with the Pirates, Bonder has appeared in 15 games, making 11 starts. As a freshman, he led all SHU goalkeepers with 11 games played, 10 starts, 54 saves and 2 shutouts.
In 2011, Bonder helped the Pirates pick up a 3-1 win over local foe Saint Peter's College, recording the victory after over 66 scoreless minutes in goal.
Bonder recently completed a week-long missionary trip to Castries, St. Lucia where he traveled with other student-athletes from across the country as a part of the organization Varsity Catholic to assist in holding a soccer clinic for kids at a local school.
SHUPirates.com sat down with the Whippany native before and after his trip, here is what he had to say:
Prior to trip
Q: We heard you will be participating in an upcoming missionary trip. Tell us about it.
Bonder: I originally found out about it through Seton Hall's FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students). We're going to be traveling to St. Lucia with a group called Varsity Catholic. We're going to hold a soccer camp for some local kids and hopefully give them a chance to experience something they never have before. Hopefully we can have fun and teach them some soccer fundamentals while also enhancing their faith. I think for us, it will be an opportunity to grow in our own faith as well.
Q: You mention your own faith. How large of a role did it play in your decision to attend Seton Hall and ultimately to participate in initiatives like this one?
Bonder: To be honest, originally my decision was primarily centered on soccer. However, now that I am here and I have become more involved with groups like FOCUS and Varsity Catholic, I have come to a realization about how important my faith is to me and how it is a big part of my life. It's definitely not just about soccer anymore.
Q: You already gave us an understanding of what you hope to accomplish during your time in St. Lucia. What are some things you are hoping to take away from this trip?
Bonder: I am excited about the opportunity to experience another country and another culture because I have never been outside of the United States. I think being able to see first-hand how other people live might give me a different perspective on things and a greater appreciation for all the things I have here.
Q: Now that you're back, take some time to reflect about the impact that the trip on your general perspective of things.
Bonder was joined on the trip by fellow Pirates Ali
Kruse (Women's Golf, Left) and
(Women's Swimming & Diving, Right)
Bonder was joined on the trip by fellow Pirates Ali
Bonder: To put it very simply, the trip was an eye opener. I feel like I grew a lot in my own faith. Also, being a part of that experience and seeing how much fun the kids had, I feel like my love and appreciation for the game of soccer is at an all-time high.
Q: Looking back, how did the trip compare to your expectations going in?
Bonder: The trip blew my expectations away. Going into the trip I was not sure how much I would get out of the trip in terms of my faith, how much of a culture shock I would experience, and if we were even going to be able to make an impact upon the children we interacted with. Well, to say the least, the trip rocked my world. My faith grew to levels I never would have imagined. I was able to transition very smoothly into a culture that seemed to focus more on relationships than on efficiency. Lastly, I feel like the impact on the kids was enormous. In such a short time, we were able to make strong connections and leave a lasting impression that had the kids begging for us to come back the next day, or the next week, and even next year.
Q: Can you single out a best or favorite moment of your time there?
Bonder: The best part for me was on Thursday. It was the last day of the camp we were having with the kids and it had been raining for a greater part of the day. There was uncertainty as to if we would still be playing because of the rain and we had been set to scrimmage the kids. However, the decision was made to play the game, even though the field was under water. Just playing that game in a downpour and seeing the joy in the kids' faces when they scored on us was amazing. What made it even better was that all of the other students in the school lined up around the field to cheer the Castries school team on!
Q: How would you sum up what you took away from this experience?
Bonder: The major take away I found was that if you have faith, anything is possible. Through faith we can all make a difference in the lives of others.
Check back soon on SHUPirates.com for another Pirate Postcard!
Click Here for more information on Seton Hall University's Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS)