Molly Hart enjoys Irish Dancing. She attends an all-girls school. She serves as an Equipment Manager for Notre Dame Football. And just a few hours ago, Molly Hart stepped off a plane in Ghana.
“This trip combines missions and sports. I’m interested in both,” Molly told us at Helmet Tracker. “The whole faith aspect of it was something I was really glad is included. It is very easy to run sports camps in another country and not acknowledge the faith aspect. This isn't like that. This is a perfect opportunity.
“A perfect opportunity.”
Molly joins one of five teams from Managers On A Mission arriving at an African orphanage this week. This marks the fifth summer MOAM has sent teams to five orphanages in five African countries. There, the teams give full-time missionaries a three-week break, serve the orphans by caring for them and teaching them something about sports, and most importantly weave the truths of the Gospel through everything they do.
“Those who we chose to go this year are men and women who are future leaders in the sports industry,” said MOAM founder Drew Boe. “We are really intentionally honing in on that. We focus in on men and women who are fixed on pursuing a career in the sports industry.”
Drew knows these trips, where (mostly) young equipment managers may be going overseas for the first time, can shape their outlook on the world and their faith for years to come. He knows because that’s what happened to him. He spent time in Rwanda with the Rafiki Foundation, which runs orphanages in several African nations. This was not too many years ago. God transformed Drew and planted a seed that grew into MOAM.
“God put it on my heart to combine the sports industry with what He was doing at these orphanages,” he recalled.
Hearing from God
MOAM raises funding through donations and through selling used and overstocked sports apparel donated by pro and college teams. Then, Drew, his staff, and the board, offer scholarships and these summer missions trips to put young student equipment managers in a position to experience something different, hear from God, and make a difference in others’ lives.
“One of the coolest things for them is having the opportunity to serve alongside other believers who they may not have known,” Drew says.
For Molly, her time at a Ghana orphanage is the latest step in her journey that began on the Irish Dancing floor and lead to the equipment room at Notre Dame.
“I’m from Grand Rapids, Michigan and was involved in swimming and playing soccer in addition to Irish Dancing,” Molly told us at Helmet Tracker. “When I was choosing a college a couple of years ago I wanted a school with some aspects of sports—a school with a sports culture.”
She ended at St. Mary’s College—the all girls’ school across the street from Notre Dame. An open-invitation meeting about working in the football equipment room drew her attention.
“I worked practices in spring of my freshmen year and they picked 13 students to continue. I worked all the home games my sophomore year, and was one of three sophomores to work the Citrus Bowl.”
Molly is one of eight student managers chosen to work her Junior year this fall.
“The unity that sports provides the school is important to me—the whole community being able to rally around a common cause, if you will.”
She grew up attending Notre Dame football games and now has an inside view.
“It was, I don’t even know how to describe it, the first day I walked in it was kind of crazy to see the behind the scenes of everything you see on the field. I was up close and personal—and then the gold helmets—oh my goodness! I couldn’t believe I was touching them!”
“I really enjoy being able to be a part of something so storied,” she said.
Equipment Managers and Instagram
It was an Instagram suggestion that introduced Molly to MOAM.
“I took a look and saw that they were collecting donations and I looked at their scholarships, but it was the mission trips I was very interested in.”
Her time in Ghana won’t be the first time for her in Africa, but the first time in quite a while. “I was in Kenya in 2010 with my Dad who does stuff with Operation Smile. It was a long time ago but I still remember that when I got home I immediately wanted to do something like that again when I was older.”
Now she is there, feet on the ground with MOAM, starting the first of three weeks with about 100 orphans.
“I am looking forward to not only being able to positively impact these kids lives, but seeing how they will be able to impact our lives,” she said. “I am excited to see how this trip will change me and the others.”
Her teammates hail from Florida International, Indiana Wesleyan, Creighton, and other schools.
Mentoring and Discipling
It is those connections that Drew and MOAM hope will continue and impact each of the Equipment Managers when they return home.
The adjustment after landing in an African orphanage is often easier than coming home after the experience, as Drew explains it.
“Quite honestly those weeks following the trip are the most important and the most challenging. There is a spiritual high and they see the Lord working so powerfully. It’s a mountaintop experience and lots of times you have this feeling that you need to sell everything and move overseas and go be a missionary!”
“We try to focus everyone on what God is doing within them, what He taught you, and where He located you where you are to do specific things. Those who go have the opportunity in the sports industry, a platform, and we can encourage them when they may not see the opportunities for ministry where they are right away.”
One way MOAM plans to keep summer short-term missionaries involved is to build a slate of local opportunities to serve. For that, MOAM is piloting programs closer to home. This Fall, groups of student Equipment Manages will lead community programs in their own communities.
“We want to group together the future leaders of sport and have them come up with a service project, something they want to do. We at MOAM will come alongside them and help make it happen with planning, logistics, supplies, donations, whatever is needed,” Drew said.
A pilot program established by the Minnesota basketball managers could replicate across the country. The managers there take a couple hundred dollars worth of quarters to a laundromat and pay for people’s laundry expenses. “It is as important to connect with people in a demographic they maybe have not spent some time with. We see walls break down and friendships form.”
“Our motto for this is Development Through Service and we know that personal development and growth occurs when we are engaged in service. It screams ‘It’s not about you,’” Drew said. “When you are engaged in service, it grows your faith.”
MOAM also intends to more intentionally grow relationships between younger equipment managers and more seasoned MOAM staffers and managers.
“We want to help them navigate those waters. This mentoring allows us to also come beside them in their walk with Christ.”
As for Molly, her life has consisted of football, studies, and “taking a lot of power naps.” No more. For the next three weeks it will be orphans, exploring new surroundings, teaching biblical principles, and no rest.
Follow the group’s trip and experiences here:
Facebook – @MngrsOnAMission
Twitter – @MngrsOnAMission
Instagram – @managers_on_a_mission
Learn more about Managers on a Mission here: http://www.managersonamission.org/
Helmet Tracker is a proud supporter of Managers on a Mission.