Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

Schoen will be a Sports Ambassador in Austria

By Gary R. Rasberry
It's not unusual during the summer for a young man to sign up for a baseball team that will do a lot of traveling.
For Greg Schoen, though, his travel will require a passport.
The Celina freshman will have the opportunity to travel to Austria this July to take part in the World Friendship Games and serve as a "Sports Ambassador" through the People to People program.
"It was more of a surprise that my parents gave to me," said Schoen. "One night after school, my parents were like 'Well, we're going to go somewhere.' So we loaded up and headed to Lima. After that we went to this building and it turned out to be the People to People program. How they selected me to go with them, they gave me an application and told me who they were. We went through the program and everything.
"So, after getting my application signed, they gave me a phone number for a gentleman and I answered some of his questions. I got elected in."
People to People, established in the 1950s by President Dwight Eisenhower, allows young people from around the world to interact in both athletic and social events.
"What it is to me, is a good way to have different cultures come together," said Schoen. "Maybe this way, we can exchange some ideas on the sport of baseball, maybe they'll have different ways of playing the sport."
Schoen and his family have a lot of work to put in - not counting practicing - before heading out in July. For one thing, he had to get a passport.
"There is a lot of work put into this," said Schoen. "I found out the other day that my birth certificate was not enough to get a passport. We had to go to Wapak and get a health certificate."
Serving as the All-Star head coaches for the events, ranging from bowling to tennis to swimming, are a number of well-known former athletes and coaches. For baseball, former Major League Baseball relief pitcher Jeff Nelson is slated to make the trip.
"I've not necessarily been into watching (MLB) games, but I have heard of Jeff Nelson," said Schoen. "It's be a great honor to meet a former MLB player and be able to practice with him."
Of all the potential countries that could be over in Austria, Schoen is particularly interested in meeting with some of the German contingent.
"My father is full-blooded German and I am half-German," said Schoen. "My dad taught me a little bit of German, but I haven't learned a whole lot about the German culture. I would really like to go over there and meet some Germans and be able to get a little bit of a background on my culture."
For more information on the People to People Sports Ambassador Program and information on helping to sponsor the team, contact the Schoen family at 419-586-5654.
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