Texas native and 2014 Volleyball All-American Briana Holman, left, inspired her new friends in the Dominican Republic.
Photo by None

Dominican Republic Experience Humbles Globetrotter Holman

By NU Athletic Communications

Video: Day 1   Video: Day 2   Video: Day 3   Video Day 4

Video: Day 5   Video: Day 6   Video: Day 7   Video: Vision

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a 5-part series chronicling 21 Nebraska student-athletes who visited the Dominican Republic on a trip abroad in May.

Randy York N-Sider

Official Blog of the Huskers

If you want in on a little secret, pay close attention because Briana Holman, a DeSoto, Texas, native and 2014 first-team All-American volleyball player at LSU, is more than willing to share the beauty and the impact of her recent yearlong life lesson as a Husker.

Holman was, after all, forced to spend a redshirt season on the bench  because she wasn't granted a scholarship release to transfer to Nebraska. Looking back, the now junior All-America carryover middle blocker wouldn't trade her experience for anything.

Despite missing the opportunity to compete on Nebraska's 2015 NCAA National Championship team, Holman was an accelerated challenge against her teammates in practice and continued to play an important role as a globetrotter. In 2014, she was one of 12 collegiate players who competed in China and in 2015, Holman made the U.S. Collegiate National Volleyball Team for women 23 years old and under for a second time. That honor gave Holman the chance to wear a coveted USA uniform in the World University Games in South Korea.

Alexandra Mosquera (Bowling); Melanie Crawford (Bowling); Briana Holman (Volleyball) and Krista Van Wie (Swimming and Diving)

Holman Enjoyed Learning a New Culture, Meeting Others,  Helping The Needy

Let the record also show that Holman just returned from another trip abroad that enabled her to join 20 Husker student-athletes on a memorable trip to the Domincan Republic. Talk about a game-changer for a highly competitive student-athlete who was "very humbled" to make the Dominican Republic trip in mid-May and get the chance "to learn about a new culture, meet other athletes and help those in need."

What Holman and others witnessed in the Dominican Republic "made me sad at times," Holman said. "However, the people in the Las Pajas community we visited were some of the happiest people that I have ever met. They were very nice, very welcoming and very loving.

"That entire week made me realize how blessed we are to be American," Holman said. "I got a chance to get close to some of the children in the village and leaving them was the hardest part. I know one thing. I would definitely go back and do it all over again." The same can be said of four other Nebraska student-athletes who are featured today in a five-part series focused on their most memorable moments. They include:

Adamsick Saw Happiness, Great Imagination and Embracing Every Moment

Connor Adamsick, Men’s Gymnastics (Mundelein, Illinois, pictured above): “Pulling to a stop in front of our new house for the week in Las Pajas, I was a little concerned. Looking around, I saw a lot of mud, wild farm animals, stray dogs, and tin houses. When I looked at the kids waiting for us to get off our bus, I saw smiles. I saw these kids being happy, playing with each other, using their imagination to have fun and embracing every moment they get.

“My favorite memory from this trip is not one single moment, but a string of amazing experiences and life lessons that these little kids from Las Pajas taught me. Due to a lot of rain, we had a lot of extra time to hang out with the community, including a long walk to a sugar cane field to enjoy the delicious snack. Walking to the field, (fellow gymnast) Coleman Tokar and I walked with two local kids named Ray and Oliver. Throughout the walk, Coleman and I would point to things and ask them how to say it in Spanish.

“It didn’t end there. These kids would look at us after telling us the Spanish word and say “en ingles”. For almost the entire walk, this continued, and the look on their faces every time they learned a new word in English was amazing. The first lesson I learned from the kids in this community is to take every chance you get to better yourself as a person, not only in education, but in all aspects of life. This community thrives on being very close. They all take the time to get to know each other, and I think this is something most people in the world can learn from.”

One Memory Cannot Cover All the Bases for Husker Student-Athlete Volunteers

"Throughout the rest of the week, we had many more opportunities to play and interact with the local kids. On Tuesday, we played basketball on the school court for almost two hours. On Thursday, Coleman and I were able to show some of our gymnastics, and on Friday, I was teaching one kid how to do a standing backflip. The week was filled with many amazing memories with these kids. On Saturday, when we were loading up the bus to leave, it became apparent how important this week had been to not only me but the entire community.

"Seeing these kids for the first time without a smile on their faces showed how we had changed their lives. They didn’t want us to leave. I don’t think I could have summed this week up in its entirety by telling my favorite memory. My favorite group of memories does a much better job. The memories I made interacting with the local kids and my fellow 'No Filter' teammates will never be forgotten. I just hope I have the chance to travel back to Las Pajas in a few years to see if these kids still remember me as well as I remember them."

Mural Helped Bring Husker Student-Athletes and the Community Together

Samantha Hardewig, Swimming & Diving (Cincinnati, Ohio, pictured above): “I'll always remember working on the mural in the Dominican Republic. As an artist myself, my heart was naturally full from doing what I love, but the mural was so much more than that. It was a way of bringing us and the community closer together. Xaivier Ringer, the artist, always asks the community to help her with the mural. This creates a unique experience that the participants will always share with each other.

“While working on the painting, it was natural to strike a conversation with the people around you. I know I personally had great conversations with some people from the No Filter group, as well as with people in the community. Those conversations brought us even closer together.

“I also thoroughly enjoyed working with Xaivier. She was patient with all of us and extremely encouraging. Once completed, it was great watching everyone play games with the mural in the background. Art is so powerful. It's capable of bringing a diverse group of people together to accomplish a common goal. It truly was an amazing experience.”

Wrestler: However the Day Was Going, Kids Were Always So Happy to See Us

Collin Jensen, Wrestling (Mobridge, South Dakota): “The most meaningful memory for me were the kids we met and spent the week with. No matter how the day was going, these kids were always so happy to see us. You could go up to any kid and they would get the biggest smile on their face from the moment you walked up to them to the moment you left. Even though there was a language barrier, we were still able to laugh and enjoy each other's company. It was a great experience for everyone.” 

A Native of Colombia, Husker Bowler Liked the Way Women, Girls Helped

Alexandra Mosquera, Bowling (Armenia, Colombia, pictured with Tiera Tingle (Track & Field): "The trip to the Dominican Republic was definitely one of the most enriching and beautiful experiences I have ever had. We got there without knowing each other and we came back as a family. Conditions were rough and we had challenges but after spending time with the kids and the community, we realized that we do not always appreciate everything we have. We complain so much, whereas in this community, everyone was happy and grateful for what they had. They taught us to enjoy every little thing in life. Playing with the kids and learning from them was one of the most meaningful memories. It was a great trip and a heartwarming experience."

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