Last week, 13 members of the Davidson Wildcats men’s basketball team returned from a road trip of a very different sort – one that involved no basketball. Along with their coaches, the players visited the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, Poland. The journey was organized and supported by two nonprofit Holocaust remembrance groups.
Head coach Bob McKillop says the impact of the visit was evident in the players’ body language and facial expressions.
"The looks of anguish, the introspective looks that our guys showed, the moistened eyes, the embrace of each other, the holding of each other as they walked through Birkenau and as they walked through Auschwitz..." The players "actually traipsed down the steps of the gas chamber," McKillop added.
The team’s guide at Auschwitz was 84-year old Eva Mozes Kor, an Auschwitz survivor and founder of the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Indiana. Davidson College said the four-day trip grew out of an invitation from an alumna connected to the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust (MIMEH).
McKillop says the goal of the trip was to educate Davidson basketball players about the horror of the Holocaust, and to perhaps “ignite the potential for leadership.”