Blazer soccer impact felt all the way to South Africa

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April 22, 2016

By Grace Vaughan '16

It was the most gratifying season of my Blazer career, and I wasn't even wearing red. 

Grace VaughanThe strength and success of the Blazer soccer program was one of the things that drew me to Saint Ben's. Competing for CSB has taught me the essential value of teamwork - on the field, in the classroom and in life. 

I've had the chance to play in the NCAA Division III tournament. And I've realized the influence that 24 fabulous women can have on my life. I know the opportunities I've had to develop my abilities and learn these life lessons have been made possible by generous people like you who've contributed to support Blazer Athletics. 

But the best part for me isn't the skills I've built. The best part is what I've already been able to do with those skills. Saint Ben's helped me develop as a soccer player. 

Being a soccer player helped me develop as a human being. 

In the spring semester of my junior year, I traveled to South Africa to study abroad. With only four months to spend, I knew it was going to be critical to step outside my comfort zone and find ways to connect with the South African people in order get the most out of this experience. 

Grace's team in South AfricaThat's why, in my second week in country, I took a chance and showed up at practice to join the women's soccer team at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. It was the best decision of my entire trip. And I can't imagine doing it without the skills and confidence I've gained as a Blazer. 

I made lifelong friends. I was able to participate in the culture of the country. I saw and experienced things on a level I never would have otherwise. 

In South Africa, the word Ubuntu reflects a unique outlook on life. It means I am a person through other people, and my humanity is tied to yours. For me, that defines who Blazer athletes are. We cannot do it alone in life. 

Blazer Athletics has shaped me into a leader, team player, friend and sister; and I am forever grateful for the incredible moments I've been a part of in these past four years of my soccer career at CSB.

Grace Vaughan is a senior nutrition major from Shakopee, Minnesota.