What do the beaches of Normandy, Copacabana, and Jaco have in common? If your answer is “they have all been visited by the Wofford College Men’s Basketball team”, please come to the head of the class. The Wofford Men’s Basketball Team and Head Coach Mike Young returned from an international tour of Costa Rica, organized by Sport Tours International, in Mid-August. Previously, the Terriers took Sport Tours’ trips to Brazil (2010) and to France and Normandy Beach in the late 90’s. Given Wofford’s familiarity with Sports Tours, their accomplishments on the court, and how much we respect Coach Young and his program, Wofford College Men’s Basketball is the Sport Tours International September “Team of the Month”.
Wofford, a 160 year-old, independent, national liberal arts college, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has seen a little bit of everything in its storied history. However, the school had never seen one of its men’s basketball teams play in the NCAA tournament until March, 2010. That year, after winning the Southern Conference regular season and tournament titles, Wofford fell to Wisconsin in a closely contested game in the first round in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. 2011 saw Wofford return to the NCAA post season after back-to-back conference championships. Then, after a two year absence, the Terriers made the NCAA tourney a third time in five years by qualifying as the SoCon’s 2014 NCAA representative. In March of 2014, the Terriers competed against the Michigan Wolverines in Milwaukee, WI. It was this latest accomplishment that caused Mike Young to call Sport Tours about a possible International Trip this summer.
“I really wanted to reward our upper classmen for how well they stuck together and played through adversity this past season”, Coach Young recalled. “Winning a championship is not easy and we all thought this would be a great way to celebrate, but also a great way to gear up for an even tougher year next year…the practices leading up to it are crucial!”
Once the decision was made to take the trip, plans came together for an itinerary that made sense for Coach Young and the team. Wofford’s 4 night Costa Rican visit included 2 games, a day at Jaco Beach on the Pacific Coast, a visit to the spectacular LaPaz Waterfall Gardens and a zip lining excursion through the Colinas del Poas cloud forest, all while staying at the beautiful Marriott-Costa Rica.
Coach Young summed up their trip this way... “We couldn’t have asked for a better trip. With so many different things to do and see we were blown away by what Costa Rica has to offer. One of the most beautiful countries we have ever seen.”
Wofford had other veterans of Sport Tours travels on this year’s trip. Wofford coaches Tim Johnson and Kevin Giltner, who were both players on the 2010 & 2011 NCAA Tournament squads, made the trip four years ago to Brazil and remember that experience clearly.
Coach Giltner recalls his unforgettable experience in Brazil. “That trip to Brazil was one I will never forget. It did so much for our team not only on the court, but off the court. We all became a little more cultured and had a better understanding that life in the U.S. is very different than the rest of the world. It really opened all of our eyes to how beautiful this world can be. It also went a long way in helping us become a better basketball team with those tough, competitive games!”
Tim Johnson, the starting center for Wofford during their championship runs of 2010 and 2011 and a member of the Wofford coaching staff for the last 2 years recalls the human aspects of the visit. “Our trip to Brazil vividly resonates with me to this day. I left there with a greater appreciation for my life in America and the opportunities afforded to us here. Our team left Brazil with a greater understanding of just how lucky we were and it was nice to serve as a bit of hope to the many youths with whom we came into contact. With Sports Tours, you aren’t an outsider to the place you visit. They really go above and beyond to immerse your team in a new culture and people.”
It has been our pleasure and good fortune at Sport Tours International to have the Wofford College Men’s Basketball team travel with us over the years. Mike Young and his team epitomize what intercollegiate athletics is all about: giving your best on and off the court and doing it with dignity and class. We love the Terriers. We’re glad they like us too!
“We want to thank Sport Tours International for all that they have done for The Terriers throughout the years”, Coach Young concluded. “Let me assure you, the next time we take a team trip in 4 years we will be calling Sport Tours International. They are a class act organization that does everything the right way!”