UVU volleyball: Wolverines set for humanitarian-focused tour of New Zealand, Samoa

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, May 5 2014 3:40 p.m. MDT

Members of the UVU volleyball team huddle during a home match in Orem this past fall.

Linsey Craig, UVU Athletics

Enlarge photo»

The Utah Valley University volleyball team departs on an international tour to New Zealand and Samoa this week that will span 17 days and focus primarily on humanitarian aid.

"We're looking forward to the trip," head coach Sam Atoa said. "All of the girls have worked hard to help fundraise and they've also committed some of their own money as well as time and energy to help put this whole thing together. But as they go through this experience they'll realize why they had to do the things necessary to prepare for the trip.

"Our hope is as we go through these experiences and are engaged in the trip that somehow it will touch their lives and that they'll be able to recognize what they are capable of being able to do. We get so busy that we forget what's important in life sometimes. I hope that these ladies will realize the importance of service and truly enjoy the trip."

The Wolverines leave the United States on May 6 and are set to return May 22.

The UVU volleyball squad will spend the first part of the trip in New Zealand, where Christchurch, New Zealand, native and new assistant coach Daniel Jones will direct the group for the first week (May 6-13). The Wolverines will play a couple of exhibition matches during their time in New Zealand.

"For us the trip will feature some volleyball as well as some humanitarian work, and the result that these girls will experience as a group will be that much stronger," Jones said. "It's not just about volleyball and it's not just about sightseeing. It's about how can we use the opportunities and influences that we'll experience down the road to help us come together as a team."

Atoa, who hails from Samoa, will then take the team around his homeland for the second leg of the trip (May 13-21). The Wolverines will visit numerous schools, hospitals, elderly care centers and villages during their stay in Samoa. They also plan to distribute school supplies, books, computers, clothing, medical supplies, athletic equipment and so on during their visits. In April, the volleyball squad shipped a 40-foot container full of the charitable items to Samoa that the team will deliver during its stops.

This year's trip marks the third time Atoa has taken his team to his native country as well as New Zealand, as he previously took his volleyball teams on similar trips in 2006 and 2010.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.

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