Softball Players Take Postseason Trip to Costa Rica

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Muhlenberg softball team didn’t travel for the postseason in 2014: The Mules hosted the Centennial Conference playoffs after winning the regular-season title for the second straight year, and when they lost to Haverford in the championship round, their season was over.

Amie DeFeo, Nicole Iannarone
DeFeo (left) and Iannarone hit a combined .285 in 2014, helping the Mules to a 25-13 record.
But two team members, Nicole Iannarone and Amie DeFeo, did take a postseason trip.

The rising junior outfielders, who are both environmental science majors, spent two weeks in Costa Rica as part of the sustainability studies course Environmental & Cultural Conservation in Costa Rica.

The class, which also included athletes Erin Murphy (volleyball), Nicole Pepe (basketball), Ashley Riley (track and field) and Ellison Heil (soccer), left May 19 – the day after the NCAA softball superregionals ended – and returned May 31.

The catalog description of the course (SUS 350) reads as follows: Students explore solutions to the delicate problems of environmental and cultural conservation in developing countries with a focus on Costa Rica. During the spring semester students develop projects and prepare for the two-week study/research/travel experience to Costa Rica at the end of May. Preparation includes study of the area’s ecological diversity; political, cultural and social issues; research skills; and relevant Spanish vocabulary and conversation skills. In Costa Rica students explore a variety of habitats, live in and interact with members of a small town, and conduct both community service and independent research projects. Research projects focus on ecology, sociology, culture, sustainability, and public health of the region. One objective is to remove the blinders of specific discipline-based learning and our own culture to enable us to develop sustainable solutions.

Nicole Iannarone, Erin Murphy, Amie DeFeo
Iannarone, Murphy and DeFeo (left to right) planted trees at a local farm as part of the class’ community service.
Here is how Iannarone and DeFeo described the course:

As a part of the MILA [Muhlenberg Integrated Learning Abroad] program at Muhlenberg, we, along with our 19 classmates and two professors, traveled to Las Juntas, Costa Rica. While in Las Juntas we completed individual research projects, different community service activities, and became a part of the local community of Las Juntas. Our overall experience was even more enjoyable since we were able to travel together outside of softball.

During our two weeks in Costa Rica, our research projects involved studying dengue fever (Nicole) and examining the effects of small farms on the local community (Amie). We were also assigned community service projects to help support and assist the locals.

Although the main purpose of our trip was focused on our projects and service, we were still able to visit and enjoy various sights of Costa Rica. Some of the most memorable excursions we went on were traveling to the gorgeous coast of La Playa Hermosa, hiking through the Cloud Forest of Monteverde and sailing throughout the Nicoya Gulf.

Being teammates on the Muhlenberg softball team helped us adapt quickly to interacting and living in one house with all of our classmates. Although there was a possibility of a potential conflict with the NCAA Championships depending on the results of our season, we were not too concerned and were just going to figure it out if that problem arose.

We are very grateful that we were able to go on this trip, and are glad that we were able to create new memories together off of the softball field.

below left, La Playa Hermosa, and below right, the Cloud Forest of Monteverde

La Playa Hermosa  Cloud Forest