Players combine exhibition games with community service

Preparing for an upcoming season can be grueling. The CRU Men’s Soccer team tackled this challenge by doing one week of their preseason in Bermuda, where they trained, played in scrimmages, and served a local church.
“I always say that, through soccer, we want these young men to become great husbands, fathers, and bosses,” Head Coach Brad Bankhead said. “Therefore, serving was a big priority for me.”
For the team, the theme of this season is “Finding Our Summit,” and the time in Bermuda served as the first step in that journey. The team arrived on the island August 5 and stayed for a week. They attended church services, did work for the area congregations and nonprofits, and got in plenty of training and exhibition matches.
Crusaders served the Bermuda community by feeding hot meals to the homeless, picking up litter on the beach, and doing manual labor for First Baptist Church of Bermuda. Each evening a different member of the coaching staff led the team in a devotional.
“When you serve together and sweat together, you grow together,” Bankhead said. “When you throw soccer games and training on top of that, you can expect team continuity. And then you can expect to win.”
The team held matches with three Bermudian teams, including the Premier League champions, the Robin Hood Football Club. The CRU emerged from the trip having won two games, including the one against Robin Hood, and tied the third. In two of those games, the team overcame adversity, battling from behind to claim victory.
“I know the impact this trip will have on [the players’] lives,” said Athletics Events Manager Jake Fralicks, who accompanied the team on its trip. “I can’t wait to see the Lord’s work continue to mold them and prepare them for this season.” — James Stafford