TPHS student travels to Jamaica to teach volleyball


Rita “Ellie” Auerbach spent a week in Kingston, Jamaica this summer working with underprivileged athletes. She spent most of her time teaching and coaching volleyball to local athletes, but she also participated in soccer and lacrosse activities.

“It was a great learning experience,” said Ellie. “The warmth and excitement of the people I met was infectious. I was so happy to share my love of volleyball. I had never been to Jamaica, so the entire experience was wonderful.”

Ellie, who will be a junior at Torrey Pines High School, collected used sporting goods before the trip, including athletic shoes and balls from her fellow players at the Wave Volleyball Club. Marie Zidek, University of San Diego women’s volleyball assistant coach, donated a full box of new volleyballs. “It was great seeing the USD logo bouncing on the courts in Kingston,” observed Ellie. “These players don’t often see new equipment.”

Ellie participated in the program created by Kevin Dugan, the founder of Fields of Growth – Athlete Volunteer Corps (AVC). Dugan, a Notre Dame graduate, formed AVC to expose student-athletes and coaches to the beauty, challenges and potential in the developing world. “Through selected readings, experiential learning, guided reflections and active service, AVC helps its participants grow and learn as they share their talents,” stated Dugan.

Some of the local athletes traveled over an hour each way by bus to be part of the program. “The local players ranged in age from 14 to 20 years old. I certainly learned a lot about coaching and a lot about Jamaica. I have even more respect for my coaches here in San Diego!” said Ellie.

The AVC participants stayed at St. George’s Jesuit College, where the musical Marley family attended school. The participants had time for guided excursions in the area, which further broadened their perspective. “Kingston is not the usual stop for tourists in Jamaica, so we had an experience that was quite unique,” reflected Ellie. “I hope to return next year.”

Ellie will be organizing further used equipment collections to ship to the athletes she met in Jamaica.

For more information about AVC, visit

For more information about donating used athletic equipment, visit