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Princeton football seniors take life-changing trip

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PRINCETON — Princeton High head football coach Travis Gaster wants to do more for his players than teach them to win games. The fifth-year head coach took his players on their third mission trip in three years, but this summer’s trip was special. Him, his wife, and children took seven senior football players abroad to Nicaragua to serve the needy in that country.

“It’s huge for the development of the young men as leaders — not so much for our success on the field but our success off the field,” Gaster said. “It kind of fulfills a vision that me and my wife have to be able to expose kids to that sort of thing outside of Johnston County and outside of North Carolina. A lot of them get to see the beach and get to see the mountain, but not a lot of them get to see a third-world country where they can hear the stuff that we preach about being a servant and leader come to life.”

The trip lasted from June 7 to June 15, but it changed the players lives in the short time.

“Over there it’s a completely different world,” Caleb Jones said. “Stuff like water, simple things like rice and beans, over here it’s overlooked — but there it’s like their version of gold.”

The eight players were: Jacob Edens, Hinton Cox, Brady Mohiser, Blake Raynor, Jones, Scott Vollgrebe and Eric Chavez. The players spent eight days serving the unfortunate natives by feeding them, helping them build homes and playgrounds for children.

“Honestly, it was the best experience of my life,” Cox said. “Being able to help all those people and seeing how they lived. Them not realizing what we have and not judging us for anything, they were just happy to see us.”

The Bulldogs have went on three mission trips in the past three summers. In 2017, they went to Lumberton to help clean up after Hurricane Matthew. In 2018, they went to New York to serve the homeless. Blake Raynor, who was on all three trips, said none of those trips were as impactful as this year’s.

“We accomplished more this time,” Raynor said. “The people in New York might get a couple of meals a day for free, but those kids are like five and six year olds taking leftovers from lunch, barely eating and taking food home to their families. That’s just a different way of life.”

Gaster plans to continue taking trips like these by starting a charity called PHS Football Missions. They had to raise over $25,000 for this trip and are currently taking donations on 2020’s trip.

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July 2019