Madison Academy Baseball Spreads Baseball And Faith On Mission Trip
MADSON- The love and passion for a sport is not just for local young athletes. The hunger to participate in athletics is felt worldwide and in the Central America country of Honduras the desire to play baseball is as robust as anywhere in the world. Like many countries across the globe, poverty-stricken areas of Honduras have forced the youngest generation to use makeshift equipment, unkept playing fields and haphazard organizations in their attempts to play the sport they love.
The baseball team from Madison Academy, which flourishes on an annual basis in the Alabama High School Athletic Association, reached out to those in Honduras and brought to those needy young athletes a new lease of life in the area of baseball. A dozen members of the Madison Academy baseball team, along with coaches and parents dropped in on the area of Santa Rosa of western Honduras and brought with them a bevy of baseball equipment and expert instruction during a two-day camp for youngsters ages 6-15.
“The experience was surreal and it was exciting to see the sport of baseball collide with others,” said Josh Bybee, senior pitcher/outfielder for the Mustangs. “The efforts we put forth to help others spoke out about my faith.”
Landon Sanders, senior outfielder and team Defensive Player of the Year in 2022 for Madison Academy, said the mission trip made their team grow even closer together and the experience was an extremely humbling reflection on being grateful for the Mustangs have, compared to those in areas of the world like in Honduras. Sanders who plans on attending Auburn upon his graduation from Madison Academy added, “Those youngsters in Honduras had a great attitude and were extremely happy about our trip to help them. It was such a great time we had to interact with them.”
The Mustangs spent months on obtaining baseball equipment which was given to the camp attendees. The team even had the opportunity to partner with the Rocket City Trash Pandas who provided numerous pieces of equipment, hats, shirts and water bottles. Bybee, a left-hander, donated a couple of his own gloves to the mission trip as lefties’ equipment is not in abundance.
“I focused my instructions on pitching during the seven-hour camp as we provided a good mirror of what we do they could work off as I believe we provided them a good visual of the program we have at Madison Academy,” said Bybee, who is a team captain and has been with the Madison Academy program since sixth grade.
The camp was held each day from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in a local city park. An estimated 75 attendees learned the fundamentals of the game and received new and used equipment the Mustangs brought along with them on the trip that began in Huntsville. The group from Madison Academy flew to Washington D.C. and then to Miami. From the southern tip of Florida the group flew into San Pedro before making a four-hour bus ride to reach their hotel in Santa Rosa at 4:00 a.m. With just a few hours of rest, the visitors from the U.S. opened their camp with smiles and enthusiasm.
“Our players helped raise money for the mission trip by hosting our own baseball camp at Madison Academy,” said Bybee. “Back in May, Jon Stacy visited our area through connections with Mayfair Church of Christ and asked Madison Academy to visit Honduras with help for the local community. So, we agreed to the idea and wanted to take our brand of baseball to help the kids there.”
The camps were a huge success for both sides of the visit as camp attendees treated those from Madison Academy as if they were royalty and even asked to pose for photographs with the U.S. visitors. For Sanders, the trip was one he’ll never forget and one moment for him stood out. He said, “I was talking with this 11-year old boy named Christopher, who spoke broken English, and he told me of his life and his goals in Honduras. What all he told me was mind blowing as he wanted to have what we have here in America. Hearing his aspirations opened my eyes to my current surroundings and made me even more thankful than I already am.”
The Madison Academy baseball program is well-versed in success having won four state championships including three consecutive state titles 2014-2016. Head coach David Pressley made the trip with the remainder of the team assisting in logistics of the trip and training camp. But it was the players who really benefited from the experiences.
“What I took home with me from this trip was knowing I should never take anything for granted and give to others as you never know what it means to them,” said Sanders.
For Bybee, who has been on four previous mission trips to Mexico through Mayfair Church of Christ, this one was even more special while using a translator to communicate on a personal basis with the attendees. “It was great seeing the smiles on their faces and their passion for the game,” Bybee said. “Baseball and God. That’s what we’re all about.”