Drew Barham Headed To Lithuania For Athletes In Action Tour

            SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University men’s basketball player Drew Barham will have more than just the average “what I did on my summer vacation” tales to tell when school resumes this fall.

            Barham, who is in graduate school in the Masters in Organizational Leadership program, heads for Lithuania Friday with Athletes in Action for a 10-day goodwill tour. It will be Barham’s second foreign tour with AIA, making the 18-day trek to China in the summer of 2011.

            “Coach (Willis) Wilson, my assistant coach at Memphis, had a big part in it,” Barham said of his involvement in AIA which began while playing for the University of Memphis prior to his transfer to Gonzaga in the summer of 2012. “He got one of the (AIA) coaches to come down and look at me, watch me play and I got involved that way. Each year they pick 10 guys to go with them and I’ve been fortunate to be picked both times.”    

            The Memphis, Tenn., native is looking forward to this trip, which began with a three-day training session Atlanta prior to Friday’s departure.

            “It will be a lot of fun. I heard the Lithuanian country as a whole is really passionate about basketball. I’m excited to go play,” he said.

            The six-game schedule will include Utena Juventus, one of the top pro teams in Lithuania, the Zalgiris U-20 team and Moscow Chimki which will play in the Euro Cup.

            “It should be real good competition,” Barham said.

            But there’s more than just basketball games behind the purpose of the trip.

            “We get to minister to the kids, minister to the teams we play and it will be a great opportunity to not only grow my faith but also get way better and get more game experience to get better as a basketball player,” Barham said.

            His message is pretty simple.

            “Stay in school. Work hard on basketball to get somewhere and most importantly love God and he’ll fulfill your life and that’s the most important,” Barham noted.

            With his final season at Gonzaga looming, Barham doesn’t know where life after basketball will take him. But remaining involved in AIA is a distinct possibility.

            “I hope so,” he said of being involved in AIA on a long-term basis. “It’s a great experience. I really love it, really branch out and see different parts of the world. It makes you respect how nice we have it here, how fortunate we are and how blessed; to be able to see the difference in culture and our program compared to the program over there and how fortunate we really are,” he said.

            He doesn’t know to what extent there will be a language barrier in Lithuania, but he did recall one story from  his trip to China.

            “It wasn’t that bad in China,” he said of communicating. “You would go up and say “nǐ hǎo” (hello in Chinese) and they would look at you and say “hello.” They were really smart over there. Even in the poorest area they could say “hello” and “how are you,” Barham recalled.

Athletes In Action Lithuania Schedule

Aug.   9 - Depart Atlanta for Vilnius, Lithuania

Aug. 10 - Arrive in Vilnius, Lithuania

Aug. 11 -  AIA vs. Utena Juventus  in Vilnius, Lithuania

Aug. 12  - AIA vs. Lithuania Sport University Balti  in Kaunas, Lithuania

Aug. 13 -  AIA vs. Zalgiris U20   in Kaunas, Lithuania

Aug. 14 - Travel day

Aug. 15 -  AIA vs. Moscow Chimki

Aug. 16 - AIA vs. Riga, Latvia Barons

Aug. 17 - AIA vs. Siauliai

Aug. 18 - Travel day

Aug. 19 - Return to USA


 

 

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