Dec. 22, 2004
This is one in a series of profiles on finalists for the John Wooden Cup presented by Athletes for a Better World. The inaugural award will be presented to two distinguished athletes - one collegiate and one professional - that best display character, teamwork and citizenship as determined by the ABW John Wooden Cup Committee. Twelve athletes in both the collegiate and professional categories reached the semifinal round and the trophy will be presented in
Special to CollegeSports.com
A month-long summer trip to the
But it wasn't the average summer vacation. From June to July 2004,
"I just knew it was something I wanted to do,"
Rogers, a senior majoring in social science education, built homes for the "poorest of the poor" while also lifting the spirits of the people, singing songs, teaching English and sports, including volleyball, she said.
"Most of the people don't really have jobs and not many of the young kids go to school because in order to go to school you have to be able to afford a uniform and books, so there were a lot of kids who didn't have things to do," she said.
"I was really surprised and I was really honored,"
"In addition to making the world a better place, Amber has been essentially making our team a better team," Dingman said. "After she came back, she decided not to take anything for granted and she still lives that. She hasn't taken any practice for granted and we've been a better team since she practices so hard. Every department should have an Amber Rogers."
The trip was
"There's a huge disparity of wealth," she said. "Their poor is equivalent to our homeless. But I was touched by how friendly everyone was. Everyone and anyone would say hello to you as you walked down the street. I also realized how fortunate we are to have what we have here. I don't complain about going to college or writing papers anymore, because some people don't even have that opportunity."
"Every day I would look forward to talking to her," she said. "We would find each other to talk as much as we could. After awhile, we ran out of vocabulary, but we still found a way to talk about a lot of things. Breaking through the language barrier and how it affects our lives takes things up to a whole other level."
She also realized it would be the best opportunity for herself personally. An aspiring history teacher,
"So much has gone on in the world, but a lot of people turn their back to it and there's a sense of apathy among them," she said. "I think we could understand today if we learn about the past. We think our world is it and don't realize there is so much going on outside the bubble we live in."
"Every penny was well worth it and the experience was worth the money," she said. "I don't even think about the money anymore. If I had more money, I think I'd do this more often."
She also participates in Adopt-a-Family and the State Farm Just Read programs. After graduating from
"I really like the relationship you can have with people in their life at a unique time of their life, especially adolescent girls,"