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Service Beyond The Bases

Coach Rodriguez. Credit: Steven Christy

Oklahoma Christian University’s athletes are not only stellar competitors, but they are also stewards in and beyond their community.

The OC softball team in particular takes intentional stewardship to a whole new level.

Every year, the team aims to serve their community. Their ongoing Big Sister program started a few years ago and has since taken off.

They partner with two “baby Eagles” teams made up of elementary aged students. The OC Eagles host devotionals, partner up with the “baby Eagles” and cheer them on in their games. Head Softball Coach Shalee Rodriguez looks forward to seeing this program develop further in years to come.

“As a former Education major, I have a passion for kids,” Coach Rodriguez said. “This program is a good influence on these girls as well as our athletes. You never know who is in the stands watching you play.”

Their mission work and drive to inspire reach far beyond the comfort of their home field.


In 2022, Coach Rodriguez, inspired by a college mission trip to Thailand, felt called to create a big mission opportunity for her athletes.

Coach Rodriguez reached out to former Bible Professor Dudley Chancey and Director of Spiritual Life for College of Outreach & Innovation Mel Lattore for help in recreating her own influential mission experience for her team.

With their support, about 10 players, 10 other students and four coaches traveled to Honduras over Christmas break that year.

There, they had the opportunity to:

• Build two houses.

• Host a VBS for the kids.

• Hold health checkups.

• Cook alongside local families.

• Learn about Honduran culture.

Getting to know the local community and providing resources to those who need it during their time in Honduras changed the worldviews of many of OC’s students.

“I heard many of my girls say, ‘That was life-changing,’ and that they have new perspectives of the world,” Coach Rodriguez said. “They were talking about it for weeks after we got back.”

Many members of the team felt called to continue serving after the trip, but one student in particular has taken large strides to help the people she met in Honduras.

Marissa Powell and OC students painting a house.
Marissa Powell and OC students painting a house.

“I had never been out of the country, and this was a long mission trip,” OC sophomore Marissa Powell said. “Getting to experience their culture and how much joy and light they had in them despite their experience changed everything.”

Powell saw how beautiful the Honduran culture was and knew she had to return to continue the work.

Following the first trip, Powell began fundraising for the community her team visited and returned to Honduras in December 2023. Two other teammates joined her, as well as several other students, to pick up where they left off the year before.

“It was inspiring to see so many students willing to travel so far to help others,” Powell said. “It is also cool to see others’ strengths and the different ways they serve.”

After returning home, Powell felt her work wasn’t done. She knew the community still needed help, and that they should continue their work after their departure. The needs of the people in the community don’t stop when missionaries leave.

As a result, Powell continued to raise funds to help build churches, classrooms and homes in Honduras.

Today, Powell’s work continues to inspire her peers, coaches and professors and drastically helps her friends in Honduras.

However, both Powell and Coach Rodriguez emphasize the importance of serving in your immediate community.

“Not everyone’s mission is Honduras,” Powell said. “You don’t have to do big, grand service events. It’s just about looking for opportunities to help.”


Coach Rodriguez couldn’t be happier with the feedback she’s received from her athletes after participating in these service opportunities.

She hopes to provide her athletes with opportunities to serve in a big way every few years, so every young woman has the chance to participate in a potentially transformative experience. Coach Rodriguez continues to lead Bible studies and prayers before games, in addition to supporting the team in their individual missions.

Powell continues to raise money for Honduras. She hopes to fulfill her calling of building a school and improving the community. She’s grateful for the support of Coach Rodriguez as well as her professors, family and everyone who has donated.

If you’d like to give to OC’s softball program to improve their athletic opportunities and their mission work, visit OC.EDU/GIVENOW and select “softball” when asked, “What would you like your donation to support?”

Most of all, remember there are people in need both near and far. Willingness to serve and utilize one’s unique strengths can truly change lives and start a chain reaction of service.

By following the examples set forth by both Coach Rodriguez and Marissa Powell, the OC community can work together to make positive changes in the community.