Jordan Juenemann Blog From Athletes In Action Tour
May 23, 2011
facebook link to Athletes in Action Macedonia trip – http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/aiabasketball
Kansas basketball players Jordan Juenemann and Jeff Withey played basketball with Athletes in Action and in Europe for a two-week trip. The duo left May 19 and returned June 3. Follow the blog entries from Juenemann.
Friday (June 3)
Back in America. Since my last post was last Sunday going into the championship game, I will pick up from there. The end of the trip was busy and internet was not available.
We did win the championship game of the tournament against Poland. They had a solid team with some older professional players. After the tournament, the next item on the agenda was to travel to Kosovo to play their national team. We were in Strumica, Macedonia. Kosovo is north about five hours. Monday we traveled up there and arrived. A man by the name of Habib hosted us. He played at Southern Indiana for Bruce Pearl. FIBA doesn’t recognize Kosovo, so we they were thankful for us to travel into their country and play them.
I was able to walk around and see the city of Pristina, Kosovo. They really like Americans. They have a large statue of Bill Clinton and a Bill Clinton Ave. The country was stricken with war over the past decades. The following day our AIA director Mike Sigfrids took me, Jeff, and Will Spradling (the Kansas guys) to an American Pristina School. The school consisted of all American teachers. The school was five years old with around 150 students. We all spoke to them in their assembly hall just about life in the states and at our college. One of the teachers was from Medicine Lodge, Kansas. I was really impressed by the school and touched by the service of the Americans helping to rebuild the education system of Kosovo. After the school visit we had a shoot around at the arena.
The game versus the Kosovo National team was really a neat experience. There were many fans there and they loved the game of basketball. They cheered each team on equally. We jumped up on them early and carried it through the whole game. Final Score 115-64. That experience is one that I will take with me for a long time.
After the game we traveled back to the capital city of Skopje, Macdedonia. The next day we took a guided tour throughout the region. We traveled to a mountain range and river and took a boat up to go into a cave. It was extraordinary country. From there we began our journey back to the states flying from Greece to Germany and home.
Thank you for all who kept up with Jeff and I and was thinking and praying for us. We want to thank each and everyone who made the trip possible. We would love to tell more to you this summer while we are on campus and working the camps.
Sunday (May 29)
Today we play in the championship game of the tourney versus Poland. We played them Friday and lost in a tough game in overtime.
Before the game Randy Pfund sat down and spoke with us. Randy most recently was the general manager of the Miami Heat. I enjoyed talking with him after and told me that he was just recently in Lawrence and checked out the Fieldhouse. Wayne Simien was in the heat organization while Randy was there. Randy was the coach of the Lakers. He won world championships with the Lakers and Heat. He was wearing his Heat ring.
He talked most of all what it takes to succeed and spoke about Magic Johnson and what he accomplished. He told us that success and goals start in the mind. He said it is all a mindset. He really had an encouraging word for us and was speaking from his heart. Above all else he said that God has equipped us with everything and above that to achieve.
Yesterday we took the whole day traveling to Phillippi, Greece. We saw ancient ruins hundreds or years before Jesus. The highlight was taking a refreshing swim in the Aegean Sea.
Thursday (May 26)
Just finished game against Macedonian national team. Won 101-62. Jeff had 18 and 8. He played real strong. I was proud of him. I can really tell he is having a great time. This is his third time playing overseas.
It is storming here with much rain. We are all thinking of the storms in the Midwest.
Tomorrow we play Poland again. There whole world revolves around beating us. Tomorrow we will sleep in till 9, our latest time the whole trip.
Wednesday (May 25)
Just got back to the hotel. On the walk back some of us guys hit up a burger stand. They tried their best to replicate our American “Hamburger.” It was different but very good.
Yesterday we traveled up into the mountains and went to the waterfall that is in the photo gallery. We had a bible study and enjoyed the scenery. The weather is really nice. Our next trip will be to Philippi, Greece on saturday. Paul wrote to this church in the book of the Phillippians in the New Testament. Randy Pfund will be running a camp there that we will go help at. Randy was the head coach for a short stint for the LA Lakers and was a GM for the Miami Heat. All of us keep up with the nba playoffs while we are here. The citizens are huge fans of the NBA.
Tonight we played the Bulgaria U20 National Team. We were up big in the first half. They came back closer in the second after many fouls were called on us. We had three players foul out. We ended up winning by over 20. It is quite the adjustment coming over here and playing their style of ball. They are much physical and precise on their plays and execution. I was thinking today how much better us players will be and how this trip will help us back at our schools when we go back. Will Mosley is on our team and he led the country in shot blocks this past season.
We play the Macedonian National Team tomorrow. They have a really good player that plays at LA Tech back in the states. Thank you for all taking the time to read this and look at the Athletes in Action website.
Thursday (May 19)
We all met up in Chicago. In addition to Jeff and me, we have four other Big 12 players, including Will Spradling from Kansas State, Austin Dufault from Colorado, and A.J. Walton and Cory Jefferson from Baylor. We have a good time talking about our conference and schools. You can just tell how highly they think of Kansas. We all give each other a hard time and make fun of each other for playing at each of our respective schools.
We landed in Thessaloniki, Greece Friday morning after a five-hour layover in Dusseldorf, Germany. We hopped on a Mercedes Benz bus and headed north for Macedonia. Greece and the Aegean Sea were spectacular. We traveled through border control and on the other side of Macedonia there was a store. The store had all kinds of snacks, food, cologne, and even clothes. It had brands like Lacoste, Gant, Nike, and our well-known adidas. They had these adidas running shoes that (KU equipment manager) Larry Hare will be giving us soon. The food is really good here and all natural. We drove over mountains and after a four-hour drive in the bus we arrived in the valley of the town Strumica, Macedonia. There is a sports ministry called ABA in the town. They have a pro team in the Baltic League. We are using their gym and facilities. When we arrived we went to the facility to eat dinner. The Poland team had arrived already.
Over the past days and weekend we have had two-a-day practices with Coach Tim Maloney (a Baylor assistant coach). He is all business and teaching us much about the game. Jeff (Withey) is really shining on the court. He is having so much fun and really showing everybody how he can play. Coach wants us to really get out and run and play fast. We are running the number system and filling the lanes. Jeff really gets up and down well. Coach loves his length. He has him stand and reach up to touch the backboard, just amazed at how high he can reach up.
We also have “team times.” This consists of a bible study lead by Mark Heflin, the AIA campus minister of Ohio University. Sunday we traveled to a monastery in the mountains that was built in the 11th century. We hiked further up the mountain to a spring and read 1 Kings chapter 18, a story of the prophet Elijah. While on the mountain you could see the whole valley. Later on Sunday we attended a Macedonian church service. I was asked to share my testimony of my life and faith with the church. I had a translator beside me translating my story. That will be an experience I will always remember. It was an experience praising God in a different language. I grabbed a Macedonian bible placed by the Gideons. My father is a Gideon.
A principle that we try to instill during our trip is the phrase “Audience of One.” Audience of One is the idea to imagine a whole stadium that is empty except for one person sitting there. And that one person fills up the whole stadium. God. We are playing to worship God through the abilities and talents that he has given us, to know that what we are doing is a privilege and gift. With that analogy I thought of the Allen Fieldhouse that us Jayhawks are so blessed to play at, the best arena on the entire earth.
We are playing a friendly tonight against Poland. I am really excited to see how we are going to do. I am amazed at how well the other countries look and how fundamental they are. The Polish have some big players. The games will be streamed live on the AIA facebook basketball page.