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FROM THE COLLEGES: LC’s Bronx baseball trio graduates; NEBC’s Ballard addresses transition of Moody-founded campus; SBU physical therapy team returns to Haiti

In today’s From the Colleges:
Louisiana College
Northeastern Baptist College
Southwest Baptist University

From The Bronx to Louisiana, baseball trio found a family

By Brad Welborn

PINEVILLE, La. (BP) — Three guys from The Bronx, New York, have gained a unique awareness about baseball at Louisiana College — how it transcends culture.

Algenys “Al” Diaz, Ronnie Diaz and Eric Encarnacion graduated May 6 from LC with lifelong memories of the bond they shared with their teammates.

“We hit it off right away with the team,” Al Diaz said, “because they treated us like family. Coach [Mike Byrnes] says that all the time, but it’s true. We were able to hang out off the field, if we needed anything they were there for us, just like a big family.”

Encarnacion said it’s “cool that you can come down from a city like New York and play with people from different parts of the country and still click with them.”

Their trek to Louisiana started as a desire to escape the frosty temperatures of New York for a warmer southern climate.

“My first memory after getting off the plane in Alexandria was the humidity,” Diaz said. “I walked into the airport and was already sweating.”

After that, “I just remember everybody saying that we were the ones with accents, but I was listening to the other players and was like, ‘What are you saying?’ especially the guys from south Louisiana,” Diaz said.

“Graduation hasn’t hit me yet,” he said before LC’s commencement. “I am and I’m not looking forward to it all ending…. I know it’s been hard on us since our family is not around … but the team made it easier for us, treating us like their family, taking us to their homes for holidays and things like that.”

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Encarnacion said. “I do want to graduate and move on, but I want to enjoy my time here while it lasts, enjoy my time with my teammates. I know it’s going to be very emotional once I leave.”

With everything they’ve learned from their teammates, friends and coaches by transplanting themselves into central Louisiana, they also have left a lasting mark on their head coach.

“This has been a great experience for me to coach these guys,” Byrnes said. “Even though they didn’t play a lot, they were here every day to work, they did everything we asked of them, and the greatest thing is … they’re all going to be successful in life. That is the number one goal.

Ten years from now, Byrnes said, “nobody is going to care how many home runs you hit or how many strikeouts you had. They’re going to care about the guy they roomed with, who they shared a locker with, who they warmed up with every day, the guys they traveled with on the bus. Those are the things that you’ll never ever forget.”


NEBC’s Ballard addresses transition of former Moody campus

By Sherrill Coberley

NORTHFIELD, Mass. (BP) — Mark Ballard, president of Northeastern Baptist College in Bennington, Vt., was invited to address the newly established local governing boards of St. Thomas Aquinas College and of the Moody Center in Northfield, Mass., during May 1-2 events celebrating pivotal changes at the historic campus.

Evangelist D.L. Moody founded a private school on 217 acres in Northfield in 1879. Multiple buildings of the campus were granted to both boards for the preservation of the original ideals and purposes of the campus.

Ballard was asked to speak in a first-time meeting May 1 with the two new boards on specific historical events in the life of Moody. Before speaking, Ballard was introduced by the great-grandson of D.L. Moody, David Powell. Ballard, who has studied the life of Moody for many years, currently is completing a Ph.D. dissertation on messages Moody preached throughout his lifetime.

Additional events for the two days included tours of the campus, official property deed ceremonies of the specific property gifted from the National Christian Foundation to both the St. Thomas Aquinas and Moody Center boards; joint and separate meetings of the two new boards; and a special convocation service on Tuesday in celebration of the historic transition.

Ballard brought a group of students, faculty and staff from Northeastern Baptist College to tour the campus May 1 and to see several special collections archived there.

Ballard, having studied the historical events related to Moody’s ministry and his impact on the United States, Europe and the world, was inspired by Moody and called of God in founding Northeastern Baptist College in Bennington, Vt., with Vermont state accreditation granted in 2014. The college will celebrate its second commencement May 13.


SBU physical therapy team serves in Haiti

By Kayla Rinker

CARREFOUR, Haiti (BP) — Southwest Baptist University’s Physical Therapy Global Health Outreach program (GHO) recently sent a team of alumni/adjunct professors, physical therapy students and non-medical volunteers to Carrefour, Haiti, in the fifth year of a long-term relationship with three churches in this part of Haiti.

Beverly McNeal, SBU professor of physical therapy and GHO coordinator, said their goal is spreading the Gospel by meeting both physical and spiritual needs through physical therapy.

“Conveying the knowledge that there is hope, relief and rehab exercises to encourage healing is huge,” McNeal said. “We can bring them the good news that they can get better and then we can show them just how much better they can become.”

McNeal noted that, in returning to the same community, “we are able to follow up with the people we met before. We see them for physical reasons and we ask them about the spiritual. God continues to work in Haiti; many, many people have come to Christ.”

Only second- and third-year physical therapy students go on GHO trips, McNeal said. “First-year students don’t know enough to benefit the people we are ministering to and they feel less helpful,” she said. “However, SBU’s Center for Global Connections department provides excellent opportunities for undergraduates to be on mission.”

A variety of physical therapy is provided on GHO trips. They help people of all ages with paralysis, muscle or joint pain/weakness, physical deformities, cuts/wounds/scars, children with slow development and any condition that makes it difficult to move. McNeal said the students who go and serve the people in these low-resource areas often go again and again.

“Not only do students get extra practice in their skills, they also pick up confidence in their abilities and in the way they relate to patients,” she said.

McNeal and her colleagues saw such a difference in the confidence of the students that they once considered making a GHO trip a physical therapy requirement.

“But we decided to keep it voluntary,” she said. “The people who go on these trips want to be there and we’ve seen too much good to take a chance on someone who doesn’t want to be there.”

She said the students, faculty and the alumni professionals sacrifice their vacation time and raise their own funds to cover travel and participation expenses.

    About the Author

  • Baptist College, Missouri Pathway & BP Staff

    Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reporting by Brad Welborn, Louisiana College sports information director; Sherrill Coberley, executive assistant to the president of Northeastern Baptist College; and Kayla Rinker, a correspondent for The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.

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