Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Three student-athletes give back in Ecuador
By STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Daily Sports Editor
Two months after his season
ended in overtime of the NCAA
national championship game in St.
. Paul, Minn., Shawn Hunwick was
back in net.
But this time the senior goal-
tender for the Michigan hockey
team wasn't on skates, on ice or
even playing hockey. Hunwick was
between the pipes of a rusty soccer
goal, facing an onrushing group
of schoolchildren in Ecuador -
where soccer is king.
Hunwick, Meagan Cobb (water
polo) and Holly Hein (women's
soccer) partnered with Student-
Athletes Leading Social Change
to take a 10-day trip to build one of
the schools the organization fund-
ed in Chismaute, Ecuador.
The trio joined a cast of 15 other
students from Illinois, Lehigh,
North Carolina, Central Michigan
and Iowa State.
Michigan aligned with SALSC
as one of three charities that split
the proceeds from the annual
Mock Rock fundraiser in Febru-
Combined with the other
SALSC chapters on the trip, the
group raised $70,000 to construct
a school for the children of Chis-
maute. Mock Rock and Michigan
alone raised $18,000 in support of
But the money didn't lay the
groundwork for the school - the
"It's pretty amazing, because if
you get a bunch of student-athletes
down working on something ...
we're all competitive so they had
to force us to take breaks," Hun-
wick said. "We didn't want to stop
The group dug trenches for the
foundation for the school, filled
it with rocks, made cement and
bricks, and completed the founda-
tion of one of the schools SALSC
funded. The money raised for the
trip helped to build the school,
help with water, and donate to a
girls' club and safe sports facility
in the village.
"It was great to get our hands
dirty and really work like the
members of the Chismaute com-
munity," Cobb said. "We were side-
by-side with them doing heavy
lifting with rocks and wheelbar-
rows and shovels.
"All community service is grati-
fying, but this was special."
For the student-athletes - a
group that Desmond Howard
recently blasted for having"a sense
of entitlement" - the trip wasn't a
vacation in five-star hotels, it was
marked with plenty of sacrifice.
"It's a completely different life-
style," Hunwick said. "We were in
the Andes Mountains down in the
Chimbaroza province, I think they
said families were living off $2.50
American per day. But these peo-
ple were genuinely happy every
day we met them - the kids were
ecstatic to see us.
"There's no right of entitlement
down there, they were, just genu-
inely happy to interact with us and
play with us. It's a testament to
how people can live an alternate
life from what we're used to and
still be very content. These people
in South America, they don't know
that we're on our cell phones and
doing all this stuff up here, and
they're happy with the life they
It wasn't all work. The students
spent two days in Quito, the capi-
tol of Ecuador, to jumpstart the
trip and took a visit to the nearby
And then there wasftitbol.
Children throughout the village
of Chismaute visited the building
project and brought along their
trusty soccer balls to give the stu-
dent-athletes a break from laying
the foundation of the school. The
natives of the small village spoke a
mixture of Spanish and Quechua, a
dialect cluster spoken primarily in
the Andes region.
"A couple people on my team
were in our group and then there
were a bunch of little (Ecuadorian)
boys," Hein said. "We were play-
ing and the little boys would pass
us the ball and then yell, 'gringo' or
'gringa,' because they wanted the
Hein was at home on the dusty
pitch at base of Mount Chimbaro-
za, Ecuador's highest volcano.
But somebody felt left out.
"Hockey never really came
up," Hunwick said with a laugh.
"I think the closest we came was
when I was playing goalie in soc-
cer. They know soccer and they
know volleyball, but hockey's not
really the hotbed.
"Everyone brought down differ-
ent kinds of balls, but I figured they
wouldn't have any use for a hockey
Cobb, who leads Michigan's
SALSC chapter alongside Haley
Kopmeyer, the goaltender of the
women's soccer team, said the
group expects to send more will-
ing students across the globe next
"As student-athletes, and as stu-
dents at Michigan in general, we
Above: Meagan Cobb, Shawn Hunwick and Holly Hein sp
with SALSC. Below: sophomore Holly Hein plays soccer w
are so blessed to have everything
that we have - to turn on the sink
and have running water, to be able
to afford education. In these com-
munities, kids have to walk to
school, have to pay for school, and
some of them can't afford to go."
Added Hein: "To be able to put
the foundation down for a school
that's going to last so many years,
it affects not only the kids we were
playing with, but their kids and
maybe even their kids' kids."
And the project certainly paint-
ed a fresh coat onto the image of
college athletes, which has looked
rather weather-beaten lately.
"It's great for student-athletes to
give back, because we're very for-
tunate, and for us three it was an
honor to represent the University
of Michigan in South America,"
"We're spreading the Michi-
gan name and giving back in the
O UU in C Y mu e tA A N dO B B
Above: SALSC's 18-person team built the foundation of a new school for children in Chismaute, Ecuador. Above: junior Meagan Cobb and senior Shawn Hunwick carry rocks to lay the f