Becoming a “Total Athlete” and Learning About “Victory Beyond Competition”

4 07 2012

A ten minute photo tour of our three weeks together:

AIA Bulgaria Basketball Tour 2012 in Photos!


Finishing Strong!

4 07 2012

Written by: Jeremiah Boswell (Assistant Coach)

Time has flown by since we started this basketball tour!  We have experienced Chicago, Ohio, and Tennessee over the past three weeks.  On Sunday we concluded our fourth leg of the tour; Cincinnati, Ohio.  We have had the same happiness and all around wonderful experience everywhere we go.  As we approached our last city, Cincinnati, we focused on staying strong to the finish. As a testimony to the character of our guys, the love of our host families, and the grace of God, we did just that.

Team times continued to go strong as we branched out and discussed numerous topical issues in life and how the Bible addresses them.  We also played two games, winning both.  One versus a team put together by Ignition and another game with a game winning shot by Vasil Kiosev against Asbury University.  We also had an amazing day at King’s Island filled with roller coasters and water rides.  For many from our group, this was their first experience riding roller coasters and it was definitely memorable! We also had an intense workout with Ignition, which left more than a few guys pretty exhausted.

Like in the previous cities, the host families in Cincinnati were amazing, and through their incredible generosity, hospitality and wonderful meals, showed us a lot of love! We also had an great experience with Faith Bible Church.  Everyone at Faith Bible was extremely helpful and gracious, allowing us to do many special things and even use their facilities throughout the week.  We could not have done this without their wonderful help and support.

Sunday we moved on to Chicago, and on Monday it was time for the group to fly back to Bulgaria.  There are so many emotions, changed hearts and lives in our group.  This trip has been such an amazing experience for all of us.  We became better athletes and people from this experience.  We know many of our players grew physically, mentally and most importantly, spiritually.  As they are striving to become “Total Athletes,” we have seen many of them take at least one step forward in their faith journey.  So please continue to pray with us, and don’t allow this to solely be a three week experience.  Let’s continue investing in each others’ lives and go strong to the finish!

Last Days of Tennessee in Snapshots

29 06 2012

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Thoughts from Kiro

27 06 2012

Written by: Kiril Raykov (Player)

After the soccer game yesterday my roommate, Niki, and I moved out from our first host family in Tennessee. It’s unbelievable that we met them only two days before, but we felt that we were part of their family. They are a musical family- Lili and Ray, and their four children, Charlotte, Annie, Ginny and Daniel. The morning before soccer, Niki and I went shooting with Ray and Daniel. It was the first time in our lives to shoot a flying target (dish). After the soccer time, my host family from last year, the Davis family, came to pick us up. I couldn’t wait for that moment, because I wanted to see my little sisters, Yordanos and Weynishey, from Ethiopia.

This morning my roommate Niki and I went with our host family to church together. Niki and I were the only ones from the team there, so we presented AIA and who we are. We also invited everyone to the game tonight. After that, on the way home we stopped for lunch with Vic, Jan and our cute little sisters from Ethiopia. When we got home we went outside in the backyard and played together in the pool. Vic pulled out his speed boat and we went tubing together in the lake. It was great fun. Then we got ready and left for King Collage for the game. Before the game my teammate and very good friend, Vasil Kyosev, shared his experience from this trip so far, his first visit in the USA. The game started and the first half finished with a 23 point lead for us. During the third quarter, the Tri-Cities team started hard and reduced the lead to 10 points. The last quarter the game was very physical. The other team never gave up, and everybody was nervous because the referees called a lot of fouls. Coach Ivo showed us the right tactic, and we won the game. We showed them our Bulgarian spirit and that even far away from the USA in a 1,300 year old country with a great history, there are skillful basketball players. After the game, our translator, Dian, gave his testimony in front of the crowd. Next, we had a clinic with the kids and it was fun to teach them the basics of basketball. We spent a great time together, and some of our teammates spoke in front of the kids about what means to be a “Total Athlete” physically, mentally and spiritually.

Right now I am in my room after a great dinner that we had with our host family. Niki and I prepared a Bulgarian Shopska salad for them. So I am thinking about how blessed we are to be here. We met so many good people, and we are a part of great American families that are examples for us. We learn every day how to grow as people on and off the court. I will remember all of my life these trips with AIA, because it makes me better in all aspects.

Through the Eyes of Lili

24 06 2012

Written by: Lili Borisova (Statistics)

It is my eleventh day with the AIA Bulgaria team in America. Already we have been to more than four cities together, we have crossed more than six states, I have met more than 500 people, and I can surely say that I am able to add twenty people to my list of friends. Through the entire trip, I have had the chance to have four moms and dads and ten brothers and sisters so far. It is great how all these people make you feel welcome and share their homes with you. I have been accepted everywhere with so much love and warmth that I have felt that I have been part of these families all my life. I think that this AIA tour is a journey of friendship, individual growth, daily lessons of how you have to share and serve, having fun, and giving. Then comes basketball- the greatest game ever. Thanks to this game I have had the chance to meet and know all these boys and girls, and meet more people who will somehow be part of my life. It is unique to get to know all these players that I have already known from Bulgaria even better, and see that most of them are really deep. Every day I learn from them and more about them. So do they. We all learn and grow on the court and continue getting to know one another while in the vans travelling, at the Chicago picnic, the pool party in Xenia, Ohio, while we work with all these kids, spending time with the families, eating, joking, sharing, during the team times and going to church. I hope we will be a better version of ourselves after the AIA trip this year.

A Great Start in Tennessee!

24 06 2012

Written by: Ashley Bristol and Brooke Rollins

The afternoon of our first day in Bristol, Tennessee we found ourselves getting a private tour of one of the top three largest sport venues in the world- the Bristol Motor Speedway. After being treated to a birds-eye view of the owner’s personal skybox, we made our way down to the race track. There we experienced something that few have enjoyed- several laps in our three 15 passenger vans at the amazing super top speed of 65mph! We would like to give a big thank you to our guide, Ben Trout, for his fantastic Tennessee Motor Speedway welcome. Something our guys are sure to never forget!

The tour was followed by another great buffet lunch. Since American size, “all you can eat” restaurants don’t exist in Bulgaria, it’s been a new experience and also a lot of fun for everyone to try different  foods, especially the desserts!


After lunch, we headed over to the Bristol Boys and Girls Club. We were greeted there by about 120 energetic and eager-eyed boys and girls ages 6-18. Sergey introduced our group to the children, and Kiro had the opportunity to share his personal faith story. The next thirty minutes was very meaningful for all of us, as we signed autographs, took photos and talked with the children. Of course there was also a chance to play some basketball! The small amount of time spent with these children is something that will leave a lasting impression on each of us and something that was a highlight of the trip so far for all.

After a couple hours of rest, it was time for tip off at King College against the Tri-Cities Select Team 1. Athletes in Action jumped out to a quick first quarter lead. The Tri-Cities Select Team came back strong in the second quarter and cut the lead to 8. The third and fourth quarters proved to be a battle, as the two teams exchanged baskets, AIA holding on to their first-half lead. The game finished with an Athletes in Action rally, pushing the lead to 13 and their first Tennessee win!

Saturday was a good and restful day as we spent quality time with our host families, did a little shopping and played some soccer at King College with another excited group of children. We are learning together the lesson of the blessing of giving your life away to others!

Our time in Tennessee is off to a great start, and we are looking forward to the next few days here! Our next game is tomorrow (Sunday) at 6pm at King College vs. Tri-Cities Select Team 2. The game will be followed by a 45 minute instructional clinic for boys and girls of all ages. Come out and join us if you are in the area!

Thoughts From Two More Players

23 06 2012

I will remember every day spent in the USA with this tour forever. We are getting closer and we have more fun every day. We had the opportunity to visit the United Center, the arena where Michael Jordan played and won several championships, and we visited the biggest high school gym in the world where Larry Bird has played. We are playing a lot of games against very good teams and against players who used to play in the NBA or are playing in the NBA D-league. We have clinics with the children and we can serve them and talk with them. The main reason why we are here is to develop ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually. We even had the opportunity to hear from Coach Morris Michalski, who is a spiritual mentor of a lot of NBA players. –Vasil Kyosev

For me, being in America is something unique. I have the opportunity to meet new people every day, to see the way they live, and being part of all that makes me so happy. It is awesome that my dream is coming true to play basketball on American soil. This is the place that is helping me the most to develop myself physically, mentally and spiritually. –Sergey Tsvetkov