By Ali Mosser
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
For Baylor’s Sam Hill, the sport of volleyball is about much more than just winning matches. The volleyball court is where Hill spreads the love and joy that she finds in Christ.
Since moving to Waco, Texas, Hill has had multiple opportunities to make a difference both on and off the volleyball court at Baylor University. She graduated from North Central High School in Spokane, Wash., a semester early and moved to Waco to start class in January 2012.
Hill wasted no time in getting involved at Baylor and pursuing her passions. Even though she had only been at Baylor for a semester, she signed up to go on the Baylor Sports Ministry mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya. Hill had the opportunity to serve with other girls on her team and other Baylor student-athletes on the fourth-annual mission trip.
Baylor Athletics Chaplain Wes Yeary noticed Hill’s desire to get involved and heart for service right away.
“I was impressed by the fact that she had just gotten here and already was wanting to jump headfirst into those opportunities and not wait,” Yeary said. “She was the first 17-year-old to ever go on this trip.”
It was while serving in Africa Hill discovered what she really loved to do.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life when I first got to Baylor, but after going on the trip and seeing the need in those countries, I knew I really wanted to work with those people,” Hill said.
Now a sophomore at Baylor, Hill is studying public health and hopes to eventually work for the World Health Organization promoting health awareness in Africa.
In 2012, 12 members of the volleyball team went on the mission trip, but this past summer only five members of the volleyball team were able to go. Hill went on both trips.
“This year it was fun to meet different athletes because you were forced to reach out and meet other people,” she said.
Baylor Spirit Squad member Regan Volke attended the mission trip this past summer as well and had the chance to serve alongside Hill.
“We still see each other in Waco and we have become closer since we got back,” Volke said. “The trip was great because we all stepped out of our comfort zones and made friendships outside of our teams. We all brought something different to the table.”
The different teams of athletes held clinics with the African people as a way to teach not only sports skills, but also to talk about the love of Christ.
“We use sports as the common ground or call sports the international language, because it connects people from any culture or language,” Yeary said.
“We had balls that had colors on them,” Hill said. “After we would play with the balls with the kids we would sit everyone down and share what the colors meant. The colors would tell the story of Christ’s love.”
Not only did Hill discover her passion for serving the people of Africa, but she also found ways to bring the lessons she learned in Africa back to the volleyball court in America.
“The people over there have so much joy in everything they do,” Hill said. “I just try to bring that joy on the court even when things are hard. I want us to be happy and to play for Christ.”
It seems that Hill’s mission to bring joy to her volleyball is working. Hill says this season she has noticed a stronger Christ-like aspect on the team that she hasn’t seen much of in the past. As important as it is to win matches and get to the NCAA tournament, Hill is excited that her team is striving to show the love of Christ as well.
“We’re different this year,” she said. “Everyone’s coming together for Christ and through Christ and we’re building a bond in that way.”
Yeary as well noticed how the student athletes were affected by the joy of the people they served.
“They’re always moved by the happiness that the children have despite what they don’t have,” he said. “Suddenly things at home that used to be important become not so important anymore.”
Only a sophomore, Hill’s future is bright with several seasons of volleyball still in front of her. Not only will Hill’s athleticism be a valuable asset, but her passion for loving others will be an important element for the team this season and in seasons to come.