Tristan Smith with the kids after a basketball camp

FRIDAY, MAY 28, 2010



LANGLEY, British Columbia –
The Trinity Western University men’s basketball team returned home Thursday after a 12-day missions trip to South Africa, which included helping conduct basketball clinics through Hoops 4 Hope, playing an exhibition game against a local team and touring the country.

With global non-profit organization, Hoops 4 Hope, the team was involved with helping to run basketball camps for children in South African townships and cities. Between 100 and 150 kids showed up for the camps and, while the kids were overjoyed with the chance to participate, when the final hoop was made, it was the Spartans players who came away feeling blessed.

“To see all of the kids and how happy they were to be able to come together and play basketball and learn from some of the Hoops 4 Hope coaches was incredible,” said Spartans second year forward Tyrell Mara via his blog. “My personal highlight had to be the energy and love, especially the dancing and singing. Man do these kids have rhythm. At the end of the camp they would all get together and sing and dance and run around and jump and hug everyone. Wow that was powerful.”

Hoops 4 Hope, founded in Zimbabwe, is an institution working through basketball in an effort to give guidance to kids by teaching them life skills in a safe and nurturing environment.

The Spartans joined the local organization in teaching children basketball and life skills while also learning invaluable lessons from both the on-site coaches and the children themselves.

“The townships or cities where we coached were amazing,” said Spartans guard Tristan Smith on his blog. “Witnessing the lifestyle and culture of those kids was, honestly, the most inspiring and life-changing discovery that God has ever blessed me enough to recognize.

“I have never seen a group of people so humbled and so grateful, so disciplined and obedient and so passionate about their culture. On the way home I could hardly say a word. Through my experience, I had seen beauty in its rawest form, and my heart was so full that I could have cried.”

After the basketball camps portion of the trip concluded, the team was able to travel around South Africa, which included trips to Robben Island – where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail – Table Top Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope, as well as a shark diving adventure and a safari.

"The safari was more climactic of an experience than anything I could have asked from God," Smith said. "In witnessing the sheer power in the lions eyes and demeanour, and the lurid tremble in his roar; the graceful pace of the giraffe with its tremendous height, which allows it to feed off of the tops of trees; or, the great girth and grandeur of the elephant, I felt completely frozen and submitted to how astounding God’s creation, truly, is.

"To think that all of these animals grant full acquiescence to their God-given gifts, which makes them all capable, in their own ways, of living amongst such astonishingly large and powerful beasts was, in one word, extraordinary."

You can read more about the Spartans trip and look at some pictures and video on two player blogs: Tristen Smith at and Tyrell Mara at

About TWU:

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 4,000 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 41 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 17 other graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership. For more information, visit TWU's Official Athletics site at

About Canadian Interuniversity Sport:

Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Fifty-two universities, 10,000 student-athletes and 550 coaches vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. The CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, and 32 World University Championships. For further information, visit

About CWUAA:

"Canada West is consistently the most decorated of the four conferences in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), winning at least 10 CIS national titles every year since 1997-98. Comprised of 13 schools, from Manitoba to B.C., the CWUAA produces numerous major award winners and Academic All-Canadian student-athletes each year, with many going on to athletic success around the globe in events such as the Olympics or Universiade Games."


Last Updated: 2010-05-28
Author: Mark Janzen