Georgia Southern offensive lineman Trevor McBurnett thought football practice was hard.
Then, he went on spring break.
McBurnett and GSU swimmer Meg Ostrom, along with six other GSU students, visited the Central American nation of Honduras to help build a school and rebuild an orphanage last week.
McBurnett learned more than he bargained for.
“You don’t have it as bad as you think you do,” McBurnett said after Georgia Southern’s practice session on Thursday. “(Before starting spring break) we were about to get back to practice, and I thought that was going to be tough. I went down there to work, and it was hard, but I realized at the end of the day, the (locals) were still working. After we left, they’re still doing it today. It’s 60 degrees right now (in Statesboro). On the day we left, it was 102 without a heat index. What they go through, and what they live with, it’s a lot harder.”
The group of students helped out with the construction of a brand-new school, from the ground up.
McBurnett said that the village came together after several girls were raped while walking to school, which was located several towns over.
“The parents banded together and said they needed to get a school in their village,” McBurnett said.
So the eight GSU students helped level ground, dig trenches, mix and pour concrete and construct a foundation for the new school.
The group also helped work on El Copprome children’s center, which was in need of painting and repair.
McBurnett’s favorite part of the trip was getting to know two new friends.
“At the orphanage, there was a girl named Wendy,” he said. “She was a little shy at first. I guess I’m a pretty big guy, and she was kind of intimidated, but by the end of the week, we were best friends.”
McBurnett also met a boy named Andy, who helped out with all of the hard work throughout the week.
“He hung out with me every day and tried to help out as much as he could,” McBurnett said. “I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, but even with our breakdown in communication, we had a lot of fun.”
McBurnett even got to play the Honduras version of football.
“That was probably my favorite thing. They don’t really know about American football, but we played some soccer,” he said. “That was fun, and Georgia Southern football donated some shirts, and we were able to give them some clothes. They just love to be loved, and it was important for us to just be there and hang out with them.”
The GSU group left with a new look on life.
“Not a lot of things are harder than football, but what they have to do is a lot harder than what we have to do,” McBurnett said. “It was hot and everyone had to work hard. It was eye-opening. We had to push each other and keep each other going. It was a hard week. It definitely wasn’t your typical spring break.”
The trip was organized by a GSU group called Alternative Breaks, which is run mainly by students and offers service opportunities during GSU’s spring, summer and winter breaks. The group partnered with an organization called Students Helping Honduras to plan the trip.
McBurnett and Ostrom were selected from more than 200 applicants.
“It was really cool that two of eight, out of more than 200 people that applied for the trip, were student athletes,” McBurnett said. “We worked really hard, and I thought we represented Georgia Southern athletics well.”
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.