Rockets Prove You Can Come Home
Not often does an International trip by an NCAA Division I basketball team include stops in the home cities of its players. That is just what the University of Toledo women’s basketball team did this past August during their memorable visits to London, Mallorca and Barcelona.
With “Londoners” Janice Monakana and Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott leading the way in their home city and Inma Zanoguera, who hails from Llucmajor, Mallorca, providing guidance while on her beautiful Spanish island home in the Mediterranean, the Toledo team had the benefit of experiencing London and Mallorca like both tourists and locals.
“I loved the opportunity to combine tourist sites we needed to see with activities we wanted to schedule to spend more time with our players’ families who live abroad”, commented Toledo Head Coach, Trish Cullop. “This trip accomplished all of our objectives and left us with memories that will last a lifetime.”
Perhaps the most noticeable sign that Toledo was the “home” team, even while travelling abroad, came during their games in London and Mallorca. Normally, attendance at such games is sparse, at best, but with local products getting a chance to play in front of their families and friends, both games were well attended by loud and involved fans. Toledo, being accustomed to large crowds at their home games, felt the love of cheering sections rooting them on to close victories over competitive opponents.
While the games were great, the experiences in all three cities were even better. Tours of Buckingham Palace and Parliament, a boat ride on the Thames and tickets to St. Paul’s Cathedral headlined the days in London.
Mallorca included a bike tour of the capitol city, Palma, time on the beautiful beaches and, most special of all, a typical Mallorca dinner of paella at the home of Inma Zanoguera’s parents with the Mediterranean Sea and sunset as the backdrop.
Barcelona was the final stop. Those 3 days featured a tour o f the city on arrival, a catamaran excursion on the waterfront, visits to Sagrada Familia, the FC Barcelona “Super Cup” soccer match and a morning walk on La Rambla. It concluded with fabulous tapas meal for the entire traveling party on the last night.
Throughout the 11 days of travel the one thing that constantly stood out was how much the Toledo players and staff genuinely enjoyed each other and the wonderful journey they were taking together. Coach Cullop’s decision to make sure their international tour included stops in the home cities of three team members was a clear message to everyone that their choice to play for the Rockets is greatly appreciated. No matter where they are, they can always come back to Toledo. They can always come home.
*Pictures taken by Dan Miller*