Soccer connects student to culture
The one sport that is truly cross cultural is soccer. Freshman business major and Cru soccer center back, Isaiah Minick grew up as a missionary kid in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and was able to bypass cultural boundaries by playing pick-up games in dusty fields with Thai children.
His father Russel Minick said, “Soccer is an excellent way to connect with people internationally. It totally cuts through nationality, money and status. Once you start playing, it doesn’t matter where you are from. You are just another person on the pitch. It is really an easy way to connect with people.”
Isaiah was born in Dallas while his father attended seminary. At the age of 3, they moved to Kunming, China, where his father studied Chinese.
After spending a year in Kunming, Isaiah and his family moved to Mangxi, China, where they were one of only two white families in the village.
After living in China for a few years, his family moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. There, he began attending the first grade at Grace International School, a school for missionary kids. Though a small school of only 500 students (K-12) it boasted 30 different nationalities.
Isaiah Minick said, “It was a good place to grow up because of the community of Christian friends. … It is super diverse with a lot of Koreans.”
Growing up in Chiang Mai was not so different from growing up in the U.S. He did activities such as going to the movies, spending time at the mall, hanging out with friends and attending soccer games. Minick supported the local team Chiang Mai F.C.
“We would always go to the local games. They had a pretty good fan base with guys doing cheers. It was a good way to spend your Saturday,” he said.
Thailand is the self-proclaimed “land of smiles,” and the culture is known to be relaxed and easy going, which is slightly different from living in America.
Thai people are not known for being confrontational; however, they get pretty riled up if their team loses.
Now that he is far from home, Minick does not have any trouble living in the States.
He did not experience reverse culture shock as some people are prone to. Living in the U.S. is just like living anywhere else: a place with new experiences.
Minick lives by the credo, “You can’t live where you are not at,” which is why he is looking forward to a new beginning at UMHB and playing with Cru Soccer.
At Grace International School, Minick took a course called sports leadership. Through it he was involved in sports ministry at his school, in other Thai schools and even in Burmese villages.
“I enjoyed that a lot. It gave me a better perspective of people and what they value and are grateful for,” he said. “We realized that they were super excited to get school supplies and play a game of soccer, and we take it for granted.”
He applied to schools all over Texas and had a hard time deciding. He was drawn to UMHB for the soccer program, but he also has the desire to get involved beyond soccer.
Men’s soccer Head Coach Brad Bankhead is glad to have Minick on the team.
“You can tell when you have just a soccer player and a kid who also wants to be involved. He is a UMHB kind of kid,” Bankhead said.
“I’m happy to be here,” Minick said. “I want to make the most of my time here and not think about what ifs.”