October 29, 2012

A Bright Future

Most people didn't have a lot of hope going into the match against the league leading Kakamega Muslims team.  Last time the two teams met, the Suba Lakers suffered their biggest defeat of the year with a 3-0 loss, and that was with all of our best players.  This time around, none of the secondary school students were available because of exams going on.  Many of our younger girls had not even played a game in the Division 1 league season and it is not easy for 5th, 6th and 7th graders competing against much older women. 

The game started amidst a mid-day downpour that soaked the players and also the field for about 10 minutes.  Because of the poor condition of the field, Kakamega scored a sloppy goal in the first half when 2 Suba Lakers slipped and fell down and the goal keeper couldn't get solid enough footing to collect the weak shot that dribbled in.  The young Suba Lakers didn't back down against the 1st place team and were able to battle back in the second half to equalize after Lenser Adoyo was taken down in the box.  The resulting penalty kick produced a goal for Irine Achieng.  Most of the game took place in the center of the field with the teams battling equalling.  The Suba Lakers tiny midfield duo of Theresa Atieno and Brenda June were outstanding at controlling the ball and distributing it to the forward players.  They were about 2 heads shorter than the opponent, but they set the tone with their aggressiveness.  Lavenda Achieng was equally formidable in the defense, with some support from Eunice Anyango, Mourine Owiti and Nancy Okeyo.  6th Grade goalkeeper Lillian Awuor continued her stellar play over the past month by blocking many shots. 

Unfortunately, in the closing ten minutes a Kakamega player dribbled it down the wing and around several defenders and put in a beautiful cross that was headed into the back of the net, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance of stopping it.  It ended 2-1 in favor of Kakamega.

After the match, when the opposing coach heard that his team had just played a team made up entirely of primary school girls, he was stunned. 

It looks like the Suba Lakers have a bright future!

October 26, 2012

Billings Gazette Article

Bighaus column: Rocky's 'Little Joe' keeps Hall on hold to help others

2012-10-25T23:00:00Z2012-10-26T01:09:05ZBighaus column: Rocky's 'Little Joe' keeps Hall on hold to help othersThe Billings Gazette
Joe Peterson's induction ceremony for the Clara Klindt Athletic Hall of Fame at Rocky Mountain College has been on hold for a couple of years.

It may stay that way for a few more years.

The 36-year-old Peterson was a hard-charging, high-scoring basketball standout at the school in the late 1990s. For the past nine years, "Little Joe" has been serving as a missionary, teacher and soccer coach in Africa, working to help ease poverty and hardship in rural Kenya.

Peterson, who was visiting Billings for the first time in four years last weekend, said it was "kind of a shock" in 2010 when he received the news in the small fishing village of Mbita that Rocky had chosen him to be a member of its sports Hall of Fame.

"I don't know if I quite deserve it to be honest with you," he said. "But I'm very much honored."
The 5-foot-9 Peterson, a point guard, earned All-Frontier Conference accolades and some NAIA All-America recognition during his senior season at Rocky in 1997-98.

He went on to become an assistant coach for the Battlin' Bears for one season before moving on to serve as a Division I assistant for two years at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, and two years at Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C.

Northwestern State made it to the NCAA Tournament in 2001 -- and even won a game.
However, a few years later, following a short trip to Kenya, Peterson decided to step away from his promising coaching career. He sold all of his personal belongings and has been doing missionary work for Christ's Gift Academy in Mbita since 2004.

"My role with the young children in Kenya is to try to bring hope to them," Peterson said. "Bring hope for this life, but more than that bring hope for eternity for them."

Christ's Gift Academy, situated on Lake Victoria, was started in 1997 in response to the HIV/AIDs pandemic. It was developed to provide a quality education for orphans and other needy children in the community.

"Life is challenging," Peterson said. "But when you know you're where you're supposed to be, you just throw yourself into it and do the best that you can."

Peterson, a native of Lake Havasu, Ariz., returned to the United States in August and has been traveling across the country raising funds for the school, his own personal support and for the Mbita District's Suba Lakers Girls Football Club, which was formed in 2009.

"I couldn't live in Africa and do what I do without the support of the people here back home," he said. "It wouldn't be possible."

Peterson left Monday for Portland, Ore., and will also stop in Seattle. He has talked to church groups, at schools, to sports teams and at coaching clinics across the country.

Set to return to Kenya on Nov. 24, he visited friends on the Rocky campus Friday and watched the women's soccer team play. His visit to Billings, though, wasn't long enough for the school to organize a proper Hall of Fame ceremony.

"I think it will probably be two or three years before I come back again," Peterson said. "I've been talking to Bobby Beers, the AD. He just said next time when I know that I'm coming to make sure to let them know in advance and they can maybe plan it."

Peterson is committed to teaching, coaching and administrating with Christ's Gift Academy at least through 2014.

"At this point I'm kind of seeing that I might be there much longer," he said. "I'm very open. It could be 10 more years or 20 ... It's definitely home and it would be really hard to leave, but if that's what God calls me to do, I'll be ready for it."

Peterson lives in a small rental house on a compound near the school. He has running water, but no flush toilet or electricity.

"I have solar power so I can power up my television and computer for a few hours each night," he said.

As a college basketball player, first at Dawson Community College in Glendive and then Rocky, Peterson said, "I really feel like I worked as hard as I possibly could to be the best basketball player that I possibly could."

These days, he is putting forth the same energy as a soccer coach in Mbita, working mostly with young girls in the sixth through eighth grade. He is hoping that their enjoyment and success with the sport — along with his steady influence as a role model — will help "impact their lives physically, socially, academically and spiritually."

That combination of faith, sports and academics appears to be working.
"I think in my life I've seen the power of sports and how God can use sports to impact the lives of people," Peterson said. "It's fun to be able to do that in Kenya, and especially with a group like these young girls that are so neglected and have so few opportunities."

With the Suba Lakers, one of the requirements is that the girls have to stay in school to play. Peterson said only about half of the girls in the impoverished Mbita District will finish eighth grade, but progress is being made to improve that statistic through sports and academic programs designed to ward off negative influences.

"Every year they stay in school it decreases the chances they're going to get HIV and AIDs," he said. "It basically increases their opportunity to make more money in the future. They're, literally, breaking the cycle of poverty in their families."

While Peterson's exploits on the basketball court at Rocky — especially his determined drives to the basket — made him Hall of Fame worthy, his life-changing work as a missionary has earned him even more praise around campus in recent years.

"Sometimes that makes me feel a little bit awkward," Peterson said of the attention. "All of us, I think, are called to be missionaries and to serve and to love others and to help others."

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/sports/college/frontier-conference/rocky-mountain-college/bighaus-column-rocky-s-little-joe-keeps-hall-on-hold/article_644222d1-0752-532b-b7e0-b19b0b628864.html#ixzz2AO9wL7wg

October 23, 2012

2nd Half Kicks off

The Suba Lakers opened the 2nd leg of their Nationwide Division I league this past weekend by taking the longest trip of the season.  They travelled on Saturday to Naivasha to take on the Oserian Queens.  In the very first game of the inaugural season the Queens defeated the Lakers in Mbita 2-1 and that  was the difference in the standings between the two teams with the Queens holding a 3 point advantage because of that win. 

Several of the Suba Laker high school players were not available this time around because of committments in their schools and so their travelling squad consisted of half primary school girls and half secondary school girls.  The inexperience showed through in a 2-0 loss to the more mature and seasoned Oserian Queen players, but the standout performance was delivered by Suba Laker goal keeper Lillian Awuor who saved close to 15 shots on goal, inlcuding some acrobatic efforts that kept the game close.  The 6th grader even caught the eyes of the opposing team. 

The Lakers had some vehicle problems on the way home but eventually reached in the night and are now busy preparing for a home match this coming weekend.