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Mongero aims to aid Czech baseball

POSTED: August 15, 2008 5:01 a.m.

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North Hall High baseball coach Trent Mongero is on a mission to send a great big Christmas present to the Czech Republic. He’s hoping to send huge packages loaded down with baseball and softball equipment to the people in Hluboka, where he recently visited on a 12-day trip to share his faith and love of baseball through an organization called Purpose Driven Baseball.

His reason behind taking on such a cause is simple: the people in the Czech Republic love baseball, but are using worn out equipment that most people wouldn’t even think of trying to play with.

“They were using aluminum bats that they’ve probably had since the early 1980s,” Mongero said. “And these water-logged baseballs that were completely torn up.”

Now Mongero is turning to the community to make that dream become a reality. Lakewood Baptist Church, Ozone Sports Academy and Archie’s Sporting Goods have all agreed to be drop-off locations for used bats, gloves, helmets, cleats, catcher’s gear and teaching devises to send back to the people in the Czech Republic that currently use aged equipment. With each glove donated, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes will provide a Bible.

“The people in the Czech Republic have a tremendous passion for baseball,” Mongero said. “I want them to have the opportunity to play baseball.”

Mongero made the trip to the Czech Republic on July 23 to coach the 11 players that were selected to represent Purpose Driven Baseball through a camp held in Raleigh, N.C. last January. At the camp, he was asked by organization founder Jay Stott to lead the program for the trip to the Czech Republic.

Mongero says that baseball quickly became the most popular sport in the Czech Republic following the fall of the communist regime in 1989, but the young people are struggling to find suitable equipment.
Mongero said that Christians are a minority in the Czech Republic. He said that baseball is a valuable tool to gain responsiveness to their message of faith.

“I feel like we planted some seeds with the people in the Czech Republic,” Mongero added. “The trip was all about creating relationships through the game of baseball. ... I think it was 100 percent successful.”

During his first trip out of the country, Mongero led the Purpose Driven Baseball team into a tourney which they eventually won against a team representing Bohemia (made up of players from the Czech National team.) Hluboka baseball manager and coach Libor Chrastansky said the biggest impact the team from the U.S. made was in the way they conducted themselves.

“For many of our baseball club members and players, this was the first time for them to see a Christian sports team,” Chrastansky said. “They noticed that the Purpose Driven team was different.”

While in the Czech Republic, the Purpose Driven Baseball club did clinics for about 50 people at each to share their faith, and also do instructional work to teach the proper fundamentals of playing baseball. The first trip was such a success, that Mongero has been invited out again to do a week-long seminar to teach all aspects that go into learning to play baseball. He plans to travel back to Europe next July.

“I feel honored to be a part of this organization,” Mongero said. “We’re not trying to force our Christian faith on the people there, but we want to share the message and also want them to have the opportunity to play baseball.”


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