From Rhea County to Coach on World Stage

Costa Rican Basketball team
Costa Rican Basketball team warming up in Mexico City to play in the Centrobasket 2014 tournament for Central and Latin American countries. (photo contributed)


Coach Eric Champion and family
Coach Eric Champion and family in Costa Rica.

A former Rhea County resident, Eric Champion, has been a SCORE International missionary in Costa Rica for the past 19 months.  He and his wife Christy, along with their 3 children moved to Costa Rica in December of 2012 after working as Asst.  NACA Director at Fort Bluff Camp with Dave Sekura.  He also helped out with the Rhea County Academy basketball team while they lived here and served as a part-time chaplain for the Bryan College basketball team.

His work with SCORE includes hosting athletic teams from the States in short term mission trips, scheduling games, interpreting, setting up ministry opportunities in orphanages, detention centers, with the poor, and preaching.

Being an All-American in basketball at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, and a high school basketball coach for 12 years in Florida, Eric is using basketball as a way to “break the ice “ and get to know people in his new country. After he finished language school, he was asked to be an assistant coach at Universidad Catolica by his friend (and native SCORE missionary) Edgardo Gamboa and has been serving the college in that capacity for about a year.

Recently, the Costa Rican National Basketball Federation named a new head coach for their national team.  The new coach then named Coach Gamboa and Eric as his assistant coaches on CR’s national basketball staff.  This week the team traveled to Mexico to play in the Centrobasket 2014 tournament for Central and some Latin American countries. In their pool they play Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama, and Jamaica.  In the opposite pool there is Mexico, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and El Salvador.

Eric has had an active role in coaching the team and is responsible for handling the offense, practices, and taking part in team meetings. A lot of the players speak English as a second language, but after spending 7 months in a Spanish language institute in San Jose, CR, he is becoming fairly fluent in Spanish, also.

Since Eric and his family left Rhea County in 2012, God has provided many new opportunities for them in Costa Rica. With various doors opening up for him, Eric continues to walk through them with the sole purpose of reaching others with the Gospel.  His stint as assistant coach on the CR National basketball team is helping him in reaching that goal.

Eric and his family are thankful for the time they spent in Rhea County at Fort Bluff Camp and attending New Union Baptist Church.  It has helped propel them into this new venture that they now have with SCORE International in Costa Rica.

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