Playing For Something Bigger
From the time she picked up soccer as a young girl to the day she finished her stellar collegiate soccer career, having led the Baylor Bears to the postseason for the first time since 1999, Staz Salinas excelled in a sport that requires precision, skill and fancy footwork to overcome opponents.
A continent away, Staz's experiences at Baylor University led her to a different kind of footwork, one that left a lasting impact on her life.
"We washed the feet of people who had chigger infestations," Staz remembered. "They had little bugs living underneath the skin. It was a huge eye-opener."
During her time as a student-athlete, Staz (BS '12) participated in two Baylor Athletics mission trips to Kenya. Before that, her summers were focused on her studies and preparing for upcoming seasons. It took an invitation from Athletics Chaplain and trip leader Wes Yeary to convince her to step out of her comfort zone.
In Kenya, Staz and many of her teammates were immersed in a different world, ministering to the homeless at 4 a.m., sharing the Gospel with strangers and playing soccer and other games with the Kenyan children. Through it all, she built relationships and took part in a whole new kind of teamwork with fellow student-athletes in an environment far away from the field, gym or classroom.
Remembering the needs of the Kenyan people transported Staz back to the dusty grounds where she followed the Biblical example of foot-washing.
"We used an ointment to kill the bugs in their feet and applied Vaseline to help them heal," she said. "There were little kids, maybe two years old, and they had it...very hard to see."
For a player who came to Baylor with only soccer on her mind, it was a transformational experience--and others took notice.
"She grew spiritually," Head Soccer Coach Marci Jobson said. "She seemed to have more of a peace about herself. She was more patient and understanding. The trip had a really positive impact on our team as a whole."
"You come back on sort of a high, but that only lasts so long," Staz noted. "So we would re-group, talk about how great our God is and look for other ways to help back here."
Staz Salinas did not come to Baylor seeking to participate in missions. But when presented with that opportunity, she found herself emboldened, her faith strengthened and her perspective altered.
"The whole experience changed my life," Staz said. "My soccer girls and friends from the other sports, we're all bonded. We're playing for something bigger now."
EXTRAORDINARY STORIES ARE UNFOLDING AT BAYLOR
Scholarships help to enrich life and education outside the classroom. Like Staz, many students have discovered that scholarships do much more than simply open the door to a distinctive Baylor education.
Your support can unlock global opportunities for future students through life-changing missions trips, character-building service and transformative experiential learning.
You can help shape the future of a Baylor student with a gift of any size to The President's Scholarship Initiative. Make your gift today.