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Passion for Soccer Takes Clayton Hildebrand to Costa Rica

Clayton Hildebrand prepares to teach the game he loves to children thousands of miles away.

May 3, 2017

As a goalkeeper for the Ohio Dominican University Men’s Soccer team, Clayton Hildebrand is used to making split-second decisions under the bright lights of Panther Stadium.

It didn’t require the junior Biology major much longer to make a decision that will take him more than 3,000 miles away to help teach the game he loves to children in Central America.

Hildebrand was recently selected by Beyond Sport to travel to Costa Rica on a weeklong trip to help teach and run youth soccer camps. Founded in 2008, the global organization promotes, supports and celebrates the use of sport to address social issues in communities around the world.

He’ll be joined by other student-athletes from universities located across the United States. For Hildebrand, July 23 can’t come soon enough.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime for me considering not only have I never been out of the country, but I am also going to be playing and teaching the game I love,” he said. “I love giving back, especially to children. This trip is about more than simply kicking a ball into a goal; it is about companionship, helping those kids have fun, teaching them to learn about dreaming big, and helping them believe they can do anything they want to do.”

Hildebrand was encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity by ODU Men’s Soccer head coach Willy Merrick.

“Clayton represents our team well off the field, and this will be good for him from a competition standpoint since he’ll have an opportunity to learn from professional coaches and work with youth players to help grow the game of soccer,” Merrick said.

During the trip, Hildebrand will also have an opportunity to visit various sites around the country. He has created a GoFundMe page to help pay for a small portion of the trip.