Harding University
July 8, 2011

Athletes participate in new summer abroad program

This summer 23 Harding University athletes and students traveled to
Italy as part of a new program called Bison Athletes in Training.

The four-week program, led by Bison football coach and associate
professor Dr. Clay Beason, began as a way for student athletes to
participate in international programs without neglecting their
involvement with a team.

“They feel they are not able to be away from working out or practice
for 10-12 weeks,” said Beason. “I did not like the fact that many
student athletes were missing out on some great opportunities to grow
spiritually, educationally and socially.”

Beason and his wife, Loren, taught at the Harding University in
Florence program in summer 2007. They were blown away by their time
there and wanted to help more students have that same experience. The
two brainstormed how to get athletes involved in an international
studies program and sought input from Athletic Director Greg Harnden,
International Programs Dean Jeffrey Hopper and International Programs
Administrator Janis Ragsdale, along with several head coaches, and
finally formed Bison Athletes in Training.

The students represented a variety of athletic teams including Bison
football, men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, men’s tennis and women’s
golf. Others in the group included several students who are not on an
athletic team but wanted to work out in Italy and even a female soccer
player from Texas A&M University.

The group stayed at the Avanti Italia building in Scandicci just
outside of Florence. They visited Rome, Sienna, San Gimignano, Cinque
Terre, and participated in many activities throughout Florence.
Students also traveled to Mainz, Germany, and met with JR Duke, son of
Dr. Debbie Duke and grandson of Chancellor Clifton L. Ganus Jr., where
they experienced activities in humanities, culture, sports, food and
fun. Students were also able to do free travel on their own during and
after the program.

Classes included Christian Home, humanities and kinesiology, and most
students earned six hours of credit during their stay. Workouts were
also a huge part of the program, and every participant had to be
involved in regularly scheduled workouts including both weight lifting
and conditioning.

“This allows athletes to still follow their sport’s summer workout
manual while getting an international studies experience,” said
Beason. “I am confident the athletes will come back in as good or
better shape than they would have been if they had not participated in
the program — that is because their workouts were monitored
regularly.”

The group returned to the U.S. in late June.