Faith & Service

Flames Student-Athletes Turned World Travelers

October 31, 2018

Liberty University’s 20 NCAA Division I and 41 Club Sports teams travel across the country for regular-season contests and postseason tournaments throughout the school year. But this past summer, several student-athletes expanded their horizons and traveled to compete internationally — from South America to Europe and the Middle East.

The women’s basketball team went on a 12-day trip to Israel in August. In addition to winning two games against the Israel National Team, the Lady Flames conducted a clinic at the Shnilar Court community center in Nazareth with assistance from Hani Abboud, coach of Nazareth’s women’s basketball team. The event was attended by Dr. Amin Mukatren, physical education inspector at the North Region’s Ministry of Education, and Dr. Raji Srouji, head of Nazareth’s sports department, as well as Liberty Board of Trustees member Duke Westover. The team also explored the Holy Land, visiting several
biblical sites.

Also in August, senior track & field runner Alejandro Perlaza Zapata, from Colombia, earned a bronze medal in the 4×400 relay for his native country at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Colombia. Perlaza Zapata, who won seven Big South Conference Indoor and Outdoor Championship titles, previously represented Colombia at both the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio and the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London.

In mid-July, several members of the track & field team competed at the inaugural FISU America Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The USA Team won a total of 23 medals against opponents from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Honduras, Mexico, and Uruguay. Christian Lyon, a transfer student who will begin his career with the Flames in 2019, struck gold in the men’s 100-meter dash and helped the team to a silver-medal finish in the 4×100 relay and a bronze in the 4×400.

In July, the men’s lacrosse team was represented in the FIL World Championships in Netanya, Israel. Assistant coaches Brett Bernardo and Mike Zumpano, along with junior Eli Britton, worked with FCA Lacrosse’s Team Serve to provide a practice squad. Junior Lukas Tophoven represented Team Germany. Tophoven, who has dual citizenship, helped the team post its second straight ninth-place showing and made the most of opportunities to share his faith with teammates while touring the Holy Land.

In mid-July, Flames triathlete Giovanni Bianco, a graduate student from Italy, won the 20-24-year-old long-course triathlon division at the Multisport World Championship Festival in Denmark.

Junior rock climber Tori Perkins placed sixth in the women’s sport climbing division at the June 20-23 International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World University Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Over Fall Break, the Flames Baseball team traveled to the Dominican Republic to serve the communities of Boca Chica and San Pedro De Macoris. They partnered with the Rawlings Foundation to lead a youth baseball clinic on a field shared by the San Francisco Giants. The players and coaching staff also visited an orphanage for disabled children, delivered food to an outlying village, played games against local teams, and shared the Gospel wherever they went.

Over Winter Break, Liberty’s ACHA Division I men’s hockey team will join Operation Mobilization representatives in Finland. The Flames have already participated in sports outreach in Sweden in 2007, Russia in 2009, Latvia in 2013, and China in 2016.

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