Blue Springs South football players spend part of offseason tackling volunteer mission in Jamaica

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- You'll forgive one metro football team if its players are still thinking about the offseason.

Prep football season opens on Friday for schools in Missouri. The Blue Springs South Jaguars spent their summer months learning how to give of themselves, spending a week as volunteers at a mission in Jamaica. 23 players from the South roster took the trip, calling it the experience of a lifetime.

This was no Caribbean getaway. Athletes and coaches from the Jaguar jungle traveled to the Jamaican city of Harmons, an impoverished place with no electricity or running water. Photos the team brought back serve as a reminder of the week they spent building houses for three island families, without making a dime for their sweat equity.

"When you're out doing something to make something easier or better for somebody, you can't think about yourself. You just get out there and do it," Tillman McClune, Jaguars Defensive End, said on Wednesday.

"Just thankfulness. Everybody there was super thankful to have us all there. We were thankful to be there," Noah Leonard, Jaguars Center, told FOX 4 News. "I think I got more out of it than they did."

South High Defensive Coordinator Mike Fansher got his hands dirty too, as he and players used crude materials to fashion walls and foundations, working 10 hours per day to help others in a far-off place.

"The houses these people live in are smaller than the bedrooms of most of our kids. To us, it's very much poverty," Fansher said. "They're the happiest people ever. They love what they have. They enjoy life."

The trip was organized by a company called Won By One, which takes school and church groups to serve humanitarian efforts on the island. Jaguars players say they learned what true wealth is all about, and that money isn't important to everyone.

"Just because you don't have more doesn't mean that defines how happy you are in life," McClune said. "People are happy for the things they have. Live life to the fullest."

The Jaguars, who open their season on Friday night against Lee's Summit West, took the Jamaica trip with more than 30 players from Blue Springs High, their crosstown rivals. Coaches at South High say that's helped forge friendships between players from both schools, as they pooled their resources to help a nation in need.