NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While most of their classmates were heading off to internships, study abroad semesters and beginning even vacations at some of the world's most desirable locations, a pair of Belmont women's basketball players started their summers in an opposite environment. Rising senior Adrienne Tarrence (Bowling Green, Ky.) and rising junior Blair Bryce (Red Oak, Texas) traveled on two different mission trips to Haiti to serve the local communities most in need.
The pair has been heavily involved with community service over the past few seasons through women's basketball team initiatives but this marks the first time either has stepped out on their own internationally. Adrienne and Blair thought there were just going to give but received so much more in return.
"I was able to help with the feeding program and went to a few schools and passed out candy, played with the kids, and painted fingernails," said Blair.
"One little guy named Nelson really stole my heart," Blair said. "When Love A Child found him, he was two years old, naked and alone sitting on the side of the road covered in dirt and eating dirt. He couldn't walk and his wrists and ankles had been broken and healed incorrectly and now are slightly bent because of it. After three months with them, he now can slowly walk. He would do to come find me every church service and is just the happiest little person you ever met!
"All in all, I had a wonderful trip and those children will forever be etched in my heart," Blair said. "I'm already planning for next summer."
Adrienne joined several other student-athletes from various teams as part of the annual Belmont Sports Evangelism Mission Trip. The group, led by Belmont men's basketball assistant coach Mark Price, spent a week in Haiti sharing both their love of sport and the Gospel.
The Sports Evangelism program was started by former SWA/Associate Athletic Director and founder of Belmont women's basketball Betty Wiseman in 1992. The program has previously led student-athlete and administrator trips to Poland, Portugal, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa, Ukraine, Malta and Italy. The trips use sport as a vehicle to glorify God and, in partnership with entrenched missionaries, invite locals into personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
"Our mission trip to Grand Goave, Haiti, was one of the most powerful experiences I've had in my life. Just being able to bring joy and a simple smile to the faces of the Haitian youth is what made my week," Adrienne said. "Through the sharing of testimonies and seeing how truly reliant the Haitians are on God, I was able to feel his presence among us. The fellowship I was able to enjoy with such an inspiring group of Belmont Christian athletes had an insurmountable effect on my faith.
"I didn't realize it at the time, but Haiti was having more of an impact on me than I was on it. Only one kid asked Jesus into his heart that week, but I would do it all over again because I know we planted so many seeds in the hearts of those children," Adrienne said.
Looking to be a blessing to others, Adrienne and Blair both found themselves immensely blessed by their unique experiences in Haiti. The impact on the pair has been deep, long lasting and life changing, with each pointing to growth in their own faith as trip by-products. Both are looking for more opportunities to serve this summer before rejoining their teammates on the hardwood in the fall.