A group of Morningside football players has returned from a trip to Haiti, a nation trying to recover from a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck just over six months ago.

The athletes helped build an orphanage for girls.  “We try to do several service projects and talk to our guys on a continual basis about having a significant life, not just a successful life,” Mustangs coach Steve Ryan says. 

The coach didn’t plan the trip; the team did.

“They did it all and then just, in the end, said, ‘Hey coach, we want you to go on this trip with us,'” Ryan says. “‘We’re excited about what we’re going to do in Haiti.  We want you to be a part of it.'”

The students and the coach worked on an orphanage north of Haiti’s second-largest city.  “I think a number of kids will probably be moved out to that area,” Ryan says. “…The idea was to build it in an area that would be a little more stable for those kids to grow up in.”

Ryan says the poverty in Haiti was an “eye-opening” experience, as was the depth of damage from the earthquake.

“I always believe that I coach some of the finest men and they come from great families right here in Iowa and Nebraska,” Ryan says. “I’m definitely proud of what they’ve done.”

Morningside College, in Sioux City, plays in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.  The football team won the conference championship in 2005 and made the NAIA playoffs in each of the past six seasons.