Ole Miss Football Players Use Spring Break For Good

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Rebels in Panama (photo courtesy of Kameron Wood)
Rebels in Panama (photo courtesy of Kameron Wood)

March 12, 2013

By Joey Jones
Associate Director, Athletics Media Relations

Panama City has long been known as a popular spring break destination for college students. The warm weather and white, sandy beaches attract thousands of young people looking for fun and relaxation.

This year, six Ole Miss football players are traveling to Panama City for spring break week.

But it's probably not the city you're thinking of.

Senior linebacker D.T. Shackelford (Decatur, Ala.) is leading a group of Rebel teammates on a week-long mission trip to the capital city of the Republic of Panama, where they will visit an orphanage, feed the homeless, speak to school-age children and run a free football clinic, among other activities.

Fellow Ole Miss players Justin Bell (Jackson, Miss.), Ontario Berry (Mendenhall, Miss.), Josh Richardson (Moss Point, Miss.), Kameron Wood (Birmingham, Ala.) and John Youngblood (Trussville, Ala.), along with team manager Lee Plaxico (Aberdeen, Miss.), also volunteered to use their spring break helping the less fortunate people in the southernmost country in Central America.

They are in Panama Monday-Friday this week before returning to Oxford on Saturday and immediately jumping into the team's first spring practice on Sunday.

The group is being led by Ole Miss football chaplain John Powell. The eight Ole Miss representatives are teaming up with 10-15 other college and professional athletes on the trip, as well.

"It says a lot about not only their character, but the environment that Coach Freeze and his staff have brought to this university," Powell said of the players' decision to use their one off week of the spring semester for a mission trip. "They understand the importance of giving back to those who are in need, and this opportunity gives them a chance to do that in a real way."

Powell is in his first full year as a member of the Ole Miss Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) staff and the football team's chaplain after serving as a regional FCA director in west Tennessee. He was the Lambuth University football team's chaplain when Hugh Freeze was head coach there.

Powell said that NCAA rules prohibited the players from raising financial support for the trip, so Powell raised support for the entire group of eight. He was overwhelmed by the response to his donation requests, as he received more than $1,600 above what was needed for travel and living expenses while in Panama.

"My hope is that we all come back realizing how blessed we are here and that will carry over into how we look at our teammates, how we serve our community, how we approach our education and being grateful for all those things," Powell said.

The idea for the trip was planted by a former Ole Miss player and current NFL wide receiver, Micheal Spurlock.

Spurlock, who was a quarterback for the Rebels from 2003-05, went on a short-term mission to Panama last year with Tampa Bay Buccaneers chaplain Doug Gilcrease and some teammates. Spurlock and his wife wanted to return this year but were unable to, so he reached out to his Ole Miss family to see if a group of current Rebels could go.

Gilcrease, who organizes short-term overseason mission trips for sports teams through Score International, got in contact with Powell, and Powell presented the spring break mission trip option in a players' Bible study. Six players and a manager expressed their desire to go, and now they are spreading the grace and mercy of God to the people of Panama.

So while these Rebels may not be lounging on the beach or partying with their friends in the other Panama City, they are gaining a spiritual and cultural experience they will never forget.

And they are using their influence and experiences as college student-athletes to bring joy and hope - and even a little football - to a needy people.

  • 07/15/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Shackelford Nominated for Allstate AFCA...

    For the second straight year, Ole Miss' Deterrian Shackelford (Decatur, Alabama) has been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®, which is one of the most coveted and prestigious off-... Read More [+]

    07/10/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Bramlett Selected To NCAA SAAC

    Ole Miss baseball player Brady Bramlett was selected to represent the Southeastern Conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Bramlett's appointment... Read More [+]

    07/09/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Track Volunteers with Horizons Summer...

    The Ole Miss head track coach Brian O'Neal and assistant coach Greg Stringer opened up the Manning Center for the participants in Ole Miss' Horizons Summer Learning program on Wednesday (July 9).... Read More [+]

    06/27/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Rebels Volunteer with Horizons Summer...

    The Ole Miss women's basketball team opened up the Tuohy Center and put the participants in Ole Miss' Horizons Summer Learning Program through some drills on Friday (June 27) morning. Read More [+]

    06/16/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Nall Begins Year-Long Internship With NCAA

    Mary Ashton Nall grew up around intercollegiate athletics, specifically college football. Her father, Hugh, played football at Georgia and coached at Ole Miss and Auburn. From competing in the NCAA... Read More [+]

    05/19/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Nall, Nichols Make SEC Community Service Team

    Ole Miss seniors Mary Ashton Nall and Alex Nichols were named to the 2014 Southeastern Conference Community Service Teams for women's and men's track and field, respectively. Read More [+]

    05/06/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Ole Miss Athletics Assists With Tornado...

    Ole Miss Athletics delivered a 35-foot trailer stacked full of donations on Monday to help storm victims around Mississippi. Read More [+]

    05/02/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Ole Miss Gathering Aid For Mississippi...

    Through the Rebel Relief Project, Ole Miss fans and area residents will have the opportunity to donate household and clothing items for tornado victims across Mississippi at various locations in... Read More [+]

    04/15/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Ole Miss SAAC Hosting Shoe Drive

    The Ole Miss Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), is partnering with Purshoeing Joy to collect used shoes for children in Guatemala. SAAC members will be collecting shoes at Friday's (April... Read More [+]

    04/02/2014 - Rebel Ready

    Special Olympics Tennis Event Held At Ole ...

    Ole Miss hosted the Special Olympics tennis event at the Gillom Sports Center Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the North Mississippi Regional Center. Read More [+]

    • Notes from Freeze's Press Conference

      Monday, October 24, 2016 - Football

      It was not the outcome Ole Miss wanted on Saturday night. Life doesn't get any easier in the SEC West. Auburn is an outstanding football team and maybe the best defensive they've seen this year. Their rushing game is... read more

    • Evan Engram Hauls in Midseason Accolades

      Thursday, October 20, 2016 - Football

      Somehow, the college football regular season is already halfway in the books. With that, many publications released their midseason All-America lists. There's a common theme to each of them at the TE position. Evan Engram.Engram was selected as the... read more

    • Ole Miss Unified Rebels Hold Flag Football Championship Tomorrow

      Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - Football

      Special Olympics MS - Students at the University of Mississippi are partnering with Special Olympics Mississippi athletes in the 2016 season of SO College unified flag football, which will culminate in the Unified Egg Bowl, a unified sports flag... read more

    • Jordan Sims Graded as Best SEC Guard of Week 7 by PFF

      Tuesday, October 18, 2016 - Football

      Pro Football Focus grades players on a 1-100 scale, and Ole Miss' Jordan Sims was graded out by PFF as having the best performance of any guard in the SEC in week seven. His grade of 81.0 against the... read more

    • Notes from Freeze's Press Conference

      Monday, October 17, 2016 - Football

      There's another SEC road game this week. This one means a lot to our people. They'll let their players know about the history of the matchup between Ole Miss and LSU. The Arkansas game was frustrating. Ole Miss has... read more

    • Notes from Freeze's Press Conference

      Monday, October 17, 2016 - Football

      There's another SEC road game this week. This one means a lot to our people. They'll let their players know about the history of the matchup between Ole Miss and LSU. The Arkansas game was frustrating. Ole Miss has... read more

    • Rebel Greats Jake Gibbs and Joe Gibbon to Participate in World Series Watch Party

      Monday, October 10, 2016 - Baseball

      Rebel greats Jake Gibbs and Joe Gibbon will take part in a World Series viewing party hosted by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame on the opening night of the Fall Classic.  Gibbs and Gibbon will be joined by... read more

    • Notes from Freeze's Press Conference

      Monday, October 10, 2016 - Football

      Hugh Freeze said that the team enjoyed the off-week. There was a lot of work to be done though with things like recruiting while also improving and getting the team healthy. Ole Miss continues to be in the hunt... read more

    • Freeze and Kelly on SEC Film Room (Video)

      Thursday, October 6, 2016 -

      read more

    • Rebels are Only Team to have Multiple 8+ Million Viewer Games

      Thursday, October 6, 2016 -

      Ole Miss faced a difficult opening month of the season, but there's no doubt about the exposure the Rebels received during the opening month of the season. Two of the four most watched games to this point in the... read more

    • Freeze and Kelly to be Featured on SEC Film Room

      Wednesday, October 5, 2016 - Football

      Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and starting quarterback Chad Kelly will be appearing on SEC Film Room on SEC Network to break down the Memphis game with former Georgia QB David Greene.  The show will first air on... read more

    • Ole Miss Puts Away Tigers to Head into Bye Week

      Saturday, October 1, 2016 - Football

      With 3:36 left in the third quarter, Ole Miss had allowed Memphis to march down the field for a 99-yard touchdown drive to pull the game to within one score. A three possession lead had been diminished to six... read more

    • Notes from Freeze's Press Conference

      Monday, September 26, 2016 - Football

      Freeze said there were some really good things after watching the film. The quarterbacks played really well. They were efficient at running the ball. On the negative side, they weren't good on third down. That was caused some by... read more

    • Rebels Weren't Letting Another Slip Away

      Saturday, September 24, 2016 - Football

      Ole Miss once again raced out to an early lead against a top-15 opponent. This time, against No. 11 Georgia, they didn't let the game slip away. Or even come close to becoming a competitive game. Instead, it looked... read more

    • Rebel Coaches to Wear Patches to Support Coach to Cure Program

      Thursday, September 22, 2016 - Football

      Ole Miss and Georgia coaches will be wearing special arm patches on Saturday in honor of the American Football Coaches Association's Coach to Cure MD program. The partnership is to raise funding and awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Currently,... read more