It would be very hard for people such as Billy Price or Keita Bates-Diop to go unnoticed in Columbus.
However, when a group of Ohio State athletes that included both Price and Bates-Diop took a visit to Jamaica for the Soles4Souls campaign that is exactly what happened.
Soles4Souls is an organization that helps fit children living in poverty with new shoes. A handful of Ohio State athletes spent a week in Jamaica doing just that, and for the Buckeyes, it was an eye opening experience.
“They don’t play American football, so the only football they have is soccer. (They) didn’t really understand what I do and one kid was like, ‘Wow, are you a boxer, are you a fighter? Are you a warrior?’ Because that’s one of the higher things they can do, they want to be a warrior or a soldier,” Price said. “So to me this kid temporarily idolized me, like, ‘Wow, you’re something different.’”
The sport that is most popular in Jamaica is soccer, and a Buckeye who plays the sport at Ohio State was able to share her love of the sport with the young children of the area.
Lindsay Agnew a senior member of the women’s soccer was one of the athletes that went on the trip and said that she connected in a special way with some of the little girls in the area.
“Here, we do have a lot of opportunities for girls soccer and it’s more progressed,” Agnew said. “Over there, it is one of the countries where it’s not. A lot of the girls are standing on the side because they don’t feel they are as good as the boys. My message was, ‘If you want to play, you have just got to be better than the boys.’
“It was funny watching the boys faces when I would play, (it was) like they never thought a girl could play soccer like that. Encouraging them, if that’s what they love to do then just do it.”
The trip not only opened doors for the athletes to bond with the children, but to bond with each other.
Agnew, who roomed with women’s basketball player Asia Doss on the trip said it was fun to learn what athletes in other sports go through in their time on campus.
“Honestly, all of us got really close,” Agnew said. “It was cool hearing about everyone’s different sports and everyone’s different struggles in their sport and bonding over some similarities.”
One particular relationship that got stronger was that of Price and his teammate Raekwon McMillan. With the two playing different sides of the ball on the football field, the pair got to spend a lot of their down time together and according to McMillan, their friendship grew from the experience.
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“Me and Billy weren’t real close, because he plays offensive line, he’s on offense,” he said. “We were close as friends and as teammates, but this trip to Jamaica with Soles for Souls just really brought me and Billy really closer together. Just me and him being out there seating out there every day in 95 degree weather, having to get through it together. That really impacted our relationship as teammates.”
At the end of the day, the trip was about supplying shoes for the less than fortunate children in the area, and for Bates-Diop, that was the highlight of the trip for him.
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“The highlight on the actual service side was seeing their faces when we gave them whatever shoes that we gave them,” Bates-Diop said. “They don’t get shoes often, and then to have foreign people come in and just give them what they need is just a great feeling.”
By the end of the trip, the Buckeyes said that the experience makes them even more grateful for the position that they are in at Ohio State.
“Don’t waste the opportunity at all. What we can do we can change so much,” Price said. “Here at Ohio State, the football and basketball team, some of the athletic programs have a lot more pull than other places and other people within the university itself, but to use that opportunity and that power, per se, to do good. Take that power and do good with it.”