Knights Without Borders


August 29, 2014
It's been 19 days since KWOB left Ireland, but our work is still being carried on in Dublin. Earlier this week, the UCF football team and support staff traveled to the city for Saturday's much awaited season-opener against Penn State at Croke Park Stadium. On Friday morning, UCF President John C. Hitt, Director of Athletics Todd Stansbury and others returned to Lourdes Hall to pitch in with some landscaping.

A special video produced by KWOB videographer and UCF student Jessica Keller is set to air on the stadium's during the football game:

Croke Park released its own take on the trip this week, too:

#LiveForOthers

August 9, 2014

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Student-Athlete Journal Entry: Madeline Schroeder
"For our final day at the site, we completed the finishing touches while making sure it looked beautiful on our departure. We were accompanied by 3 Marines and an U.S. Embassy worker who helped us out and are actually attending the UCF football game. After the work day was over, we sat back reminiscing about where the past week had brought us. Swapping stories and taking pictures to share our experience back home.

That night we went to a Gaelic football game held at Croke Park. It is unlike any sport I have seen! The best way to explain it is a mix of soccer, basketball and American football. The energy in the stadium was amazing, being surrounded by 80,000 people while cheering on Dublin with the locals. It is something that words and pictures can't do justice.

This opportunity that I have been blessed with this summer was one of the most incredible and impactful moments in my life. To making new friendships, helping others, giving back to the community, immersing myself in another culture is something I never expected to experience. I couldn't imagine doing this journey with any other group of people. I am eager to share my experience back home and already look forward to the next KWOB trip!"

Senior Associate Athletics Director Jessica Reo, KWOB trip coordinator
"I couldn't be more pleased with our trip to Dublin - and that is due in large part to the people of Ireland, Habitat for Humanity and Croke Park. When we decided get involved with this project, the hope was that we would be able to impact the community long-term; to give Croke Park a lasting, impression of UCF. We left today with numerous new friendships and relationships that I believe will carry on after our football team plays Penn State at the end of the month.

I especially want to thank Colin Skehan from Habitat for Humanity for his help in planning this endeavor and for voluntarily acting as our tour guide throughout the week. We also appreciate the patience of our site supervisors, Dave and Mark, and hope that Francesca and Christy can make good use of the Lourdes Hall we left behind with their dance academy and martial arts studio. I'd also like to thank Julianne Savage at Croke Park for her hard work in getting the word out about the Knights Without Borders mission. I hope we've managed to turn a few more of the Irish into Knights fans."

August 8, 2014

Student-Athlete Journal Entry: Calena Illan
"Woke up at 5:50 and met up with Leonie at 6 a.m. to go for a run. She's sick so we both knew it wouldn't be a real workout. We ran on the track for 20 minutes and then I led a pseudo yoga class for 20 minutes. We walked back and got ready for the day. At breakfast, Leonie's mom Collette showed up and bid farewell to her baby girl. Leo was really moved and upset to see her mother go. It makes me happy that there are solid parent-child relationships out there -- they are few and far between.

With coffees in hand, we headed to the work site. Working was about the same as yesterday. At tea time we had visitors come in and do a press conference. Leo was the star of the show and she's dead right to be it, too. I spoke with one of our site supervisors, Mark, a bit about doing something within Orlando and he was very encouraging about it. He's a very dad-like figure. Today, I repainted the white back wall, and the door frames. Then I started working on the ledge.

When we were on our lunch break Leo and I spoke about practice and getting back to the grind. A grind that I'm no longer a part of. Weird thought.

I really love this project and want to do it again, over and over. Once a Knight, always a Knight.

We went to the Dart train to go to Howth, more love in the group than ever. I feel this trip wrapping up, and I'm sad to see it go. I am ready to go home though. Especially because I have been emailing with AmeriCorps to see what opportunities there are to work in OCPS or Harbor House for domestic violence. Something. I hope I get into the master's program in spring, so I can still be around my fellow student-athletes rather than moving to Vegas. There's lots of helping opportunities in Vegas, too, though so the world is really on my side. Always. I am so grateful."

Student-Athlete Journal Entry: Matt Williams
"This morning I found out that I really enjoy sleeping, resting, recovering! As I woke up this morning I felt every bit of tiredness one could feel. So far I've really enjoyed my time here. I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to impact the life of others.

The amount of people that I have met has been amazing. A lot of people informed me that coming over from another country to help someone is a big deal, and that they really appreciate everything that we are doing for them. The whole experience has been eye-opening for me, as well. I met an older man that works at McDonald's for security. He explained to me that the USA has more opportunities than Europe. Take advantage of everything that's being provided for you. He explained that if he could go to the States, he would and wouldn't look back.

There has also been a humor moment today. While on the Irish train I placed my legs on the seat to stretch out. An elderly Irish man walked on with a disgusted look on his face. He read the paper and kept looking at my feet dangling on the seat. That's when I looked at the window and the sign displayed 'no feet on the chairs.'"

August 7, 2014

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Student-Athlete Journal Entry: Ryan Meyer
"Third day of volunteer work - we have started to do the second coat of paint on the interior walls. The groups outside have finished the walls. After we got done with our work, the dance instructor taught us a hip-hop dance that I might use in the near future.

Also, the Croke Park members met with us and gave us a tour of the facilities, the locker rooms and even the sky walk that goes around the stadium that is about 150 feet high. We are getting tickets on Saturday to the big Gaelic football game, so we are looking forward to that.

I have found out today that everything is '10 minutes away' according to Colin, who is showing us around. Let's see what tomorrow brings."

August 6, 2014

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Student-Athlete Journal Entry: Christal Peterson
"At breakfast, I met the nicest couple who were on business/class trip from Philly. The man was a dean at Rosemont College; his wife and him took a couple of their graduate and undergraduate students to Ireland to take a course and to also explore another country besides the U.S. The man automatically knew UCF and asked about George O'Leary. He said he could not wait to watch the opening game against Penn state in September. I guess I can already assume who he is rooting for.

WE GOT OUR PICTURE PUBLISHED IN THE IRELAND NEWSPAPER !

Leonie said that this is a tremendous honor because not everybody gets a feature in the newspaper. Us being here helping out the community will definitely have a positive effect for when the football team comes to play. If the Irish who are in attendance do not know who UCF is, they will after we leave. I would definitely like to get ahold of that paper so that I can frame it.

The biggest accomplishment of the day was finally finishing the wall that was on the left of the center. Painting a wall that's never been painted is the hardest thing ever, don't let anybody tell you differently."

August 5, 2014

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Student-Athlete Journal Entry: Anne-Marie Blaney
Day two started out dreary. We ate a "Buttery" breakfast and then went on to the site. It didn't take long to get job assignments. I think the construction organizers weren't expecting us to work as fast as we did. I definitely feel like we are half-way done even after one day! Hopefully this means we can get even more work/projects done by the end of the week.

I got to host the UCF Knights' Instagram's #TakeoverTuesday so that also kept me busy at the site and in my spare time. I tried to get the rest of the group involved by taking videos of everyone trying to say phrases in their "best" Irish accents. I wanted to post things that people found interesting and would like.

We then went to the Guinness Factory and saw how the beer is made. We saw the lease for the building that we signed in 1759 for 9,000 years! The Irish are very proud of their Guinness.

August 4, 2014

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Student-Athlete Journal Entry: Kaitlyn Steckel
"When I woke up yesterday morning and realized that in just a few hours I would be on my way to Dublin, Ireland, I couldn't believe it. I've been looking forward to this trip all summer, and yet it still didn't seem real. Excited and nervous, I hopped out of bed, finished some last-minute packing and headed to the airport.

The flights to get here to Dublin were long and tiring, but once we arrived, my sleepiness seemed to fade away. Right away, I noticed a few obvious differences between Ireland and the U.S. The cars and roads are different. The colors and architecture of the buildings are different. Even the toilets at the airport are a little different. It's exciting, though, to be in a new place and experience new things.

After we dropped our bags off at Trinity College, we headed to city hall where we began a walking tour of Dublin. Our tour guide, Connor, did an awesome job of teaching us all about Irish history and culture. I was very interested in what he was saying because my mom's side of the family actually comes from Ireland.

After the tour we stopped at Rick's, a burger joint, and ate lunch. (At this point, it was probably about 9 or 10 a.m. Florida time, so eating a burger & fries seemed a little weird. Hopefully after tonight, though, we'll all get adjusted to the new time zone.) After lunch, we walked to Lourdes Hall, the site we will be working at this week. This allowed all of us to get a feel for what we'll be doing these next few days. It seems like, for the most part, we've got a lot of painting to do and I'm so ready to get started. I am so thankful for this oppourntity and for each and every person here on this trip. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us this week."

Aug. 3, 2014

Knights Without Borders is making its first trek across the Atlantic, heading for Dublin, Ireland - home of the football team's Aug. 30 season-opening matchup against Penn State in Croke Park. In an effort to make a lasting impact in the community, UCF will spend the next week working in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, Croke Park and the local neighborhood to renovate Lourdes Community Hall.

Lourdes Hall is a community hall located in the grounds of Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Sean Mac Dermott Street in Dublin's north inner city. The hall is used primarily by two local groups -the Sean McDermott St Taekwondo School and Francesca Arkin's Dance and Stage Academy.

Along with a group of UCF staff and administrators, the following 10 student-athletes will be taking on the project:

Cross Country/Track & Field
Anne-Marie Blaney
Cody Castillo
Christal Peterson

Rowing
Leonie Hamel
Calena Illan

Baseball
Ryan Meyer
JoMarcos Woods

Softball
Madeline Schroeder
Kaitlyn Steckel

Men's Basketball
Matt Williams

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