Oh, The Places You'll Go: Sport Tours Summer Trips

Oh, The Places You'll Go: Sport Tours Summer Trips

To book an International Tour with your team Contact Sallie Gordon at Sallie@SportTours.net

 

“I don't think that too many of us imagined that this wonderful game would take us halfway around the world!”

--Nevada assistant coach Ashley Elliot

Since the NCAA allows collegiate programs to take one international trip every four years, many schools make the most of the rule to give their student-athletes once-in-a-lifetime traveling adventures. These overseas excursions provide valuable team bonding, great competition with local teams and so much more. For some student-athletes, traveling with a team to another country marks their first time traveling out of the United States. This past summer Sport Tours led over a 15 college tours to around the world.

Lifetime Memories on the Emerald Isle

Allegheny College women's basketball got a head start on the summer tour season with a ten-day journey to Ireland in mid-May. The Gators left May 12 and soon after landing, hopped on a bus to view the stunning Cliffs of Moher, sea cliffs off the Atlantic Ocean that have been featured in many movies including “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

After sightseeing for a couple of days, the team played their first game, a contest against the Glanmire Basketball Club. The rest of the trip featured time spent in the Irish capital, Dublin, where the team played the Irish U20 selection squad. A major highlight of the trip was experiencing the Gaelic Games. The event includes games like hurling and Gaelic football as well as live music and dancing.

In the words of Allegheny forward Julianna Skowron: “I had the best time with my teammates on this trip and we made memories that will last a lifetime.”

Perennial Favorite, Spain

Spain never fails to amaze and mesmerize college touring groups. This summer, four schools had the privilege to enjoy the country’s historical monuments, cosmopolitan cities and stunning shores. The University of Alabama at Birmingham women’s basketball team kicked off the Spanish travel journeys with a trip in June, landing in Madrid to explore the capital before heading to the Mediterranean coast and visiting the home of senior guard Angela Vendrell in Valencia and playing a game in front of her family and friends.

Nevada women’s basketball also trekked to Spain after departing in the wee hours from Reno on August 11. The Wolf Pack arrived in Madrid ready for sightseeing at the Temple of Debod, Real Madrid’s immense soccer stadium, and the official residence of the Spanish royal family, the largest functioning royal palace in Europe. The team also traveled to Toledo, Valencia and finally, to Barcelona where they got a chance to view the jaw-dropping architecture of La Sagrada Familia.

Stony Brook men’s basketball visited Spain on the first leg of their two-country tour. Before leaving the Seawolves held an open practice for fans. The preparation paid off as Stony Brook went 3-0 in their games in Spain and France. The team’s rising juniors led the way, frequently scoring in double figures. In between games, the players had a chance to visit FC Barcelona’s stadium, the Mediterranean Coast in beautiful Valencia, and last but not least, the timeless beauty of Parisian sights in France.

Breathtaking Italy

When it comes to team trips, Italy rivals Spain as a coveted destination. Five teams made the journey to the Southern European country.

Capital University women’s basketball began the summer with a 10-day Italian tour that featured views and scenery some will only ever see in movies. After arriving in Italy’s fashion capital, Milan, the team headed to beautiful Lake Como and enjoyed walking among the cobblestoned streets and relaxing at a rooftop pool. The group got a kick out of seeing celebrity spots like George Clooney’s house as well. In addition to games, other highlights of the trip included a bike tour of Florence, the ancient sites of Rome, and of course, eating authentic Italian food.

New Mexico women’s basketball squad began their summer travels in Italy heading to Rome first. After tons of fun selfies and a visit to the Vatican, the Lobos played their first game of the trip. New Mexico also took in the architectural wonders of Florence and lovely Venice with a canal boat ride before leaving Italy for the City of Light, Paris, for more sightseeing and memory making.

Like Stony Brook men, Nebraska women’s basketball also earned a perfect 3-0 record in their games overseas. The Huskers, who started their trip in Rome, took down TTT Riga while in the Italian capital and followed up with a win over the EuroBasket Turkish All-Stars in Florence. Nebraska also had the privilege of visiting the Vatican and, in a special treat, were welcome by the Pope at St. Peter’s square on Sunday, August 4. Nebraska ended the trip with a visit to Spain for their last game, a 94-77 win over the Barcelona All-Stars.

Toledo women’s basketball began their trip in Venice before traveling to Bologna, the hometown of senior guard Mariella Santucci. The homecoming included a team dinner (five courses!) with Santucci’s family.

"This dinner was very special to me," head coach Tricia Cullop said. "The highlight of this trip so far for me was spending this evening with Mariella's family. The whole purpose of this trip was to give back to them. We are so grateful to her family. It meant a lot for us to come here and experience Italy."

Cullop summarized her team’s trip in a podcast in early September and also thanked her staff and fans in a heartfelt letter.

The Illinois State men’s basketball program started the last month before the semester with a visit to Italy as well. With an itinerary that included Rome, Florence and Venice, it is no wonder that the team had a wonderful time abroad. In addition to playing three games, the Redbirds maximized their time during the 11-day trip with plenty of sightseeing and watching a pro soccer game between La Roma and Real Madrid at Stadio Olimpico.

Rome’s famous Trevi fountain was a favorite of ISU freshman guard DJ Horne: "Looking at all the detail and all the work they put into it was pretty amazing. You learn about that stuff in school and you learn about it in books, but being able to see it in person, it's crazy."

Joie de Vivre in France

What better way to experience the joy of life than a summer trip to France? Western Michigan women’s basketball was lucky enough to spend their entire August trip exploring the historic Normandy region and Paris. In Northern France, the team had a chance to appreciate the sacrifices made by Allied soldiers who fought in World War II with visits to Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery.

“For our team and staff to have the privilege of experiencing the French culture as well as the enormity of what happened on these beaches on June 6, 1944 is very humbling and awe-inspiring,” head coach Shane Clipfell said. “From the French cuisine, architecture, and hospitality we have been made to feel very welcomed.”

Before heading to Paris for more sightseeing and games, the team also visited the rocky islet Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Discovering Portugal

While Portugal is not a large country compared to its Iberian neighbor, it packs a punch in beauty and history. The four teams that visited Portugal concurred as they showcased gorgeous photos and videos on social media during their time in the country.

With its beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast and centuries-old architecture in Lisbon and elsewhere, Portugal entranced Bradley and Massachusetts women’s basketball teams as well as McMurray and Belmont’s men’s teams.

Bradley had an outstanding tour on the court, going 3-0 in Portugal. It was only the second foreign trip in program history. The tour began in the ancient coastal city of Porto, then on to Cascais, a charming town right outside of Lisbon. Bradley finished its trip with a win against the Lisbon All Stars and some fun surfing in the Atlantic Ocean.

McMurry men began their trip with touring Lisbon before their first game a couple of days later against the Lisbon Elite. The team even had a cheering section: McMurry baseball alumni Chris Gardner and his family. In addition to basketball, the team had a chance to enjoy several activities on the water including sailing and paddle boarding. A cultural treat for McMurry included catching live music and more at the Festas de Mar in a natural amphitheater in Cascais.

Belmont men had a banner trip to Lisbon and Cascais in mid-August. In between exploring, fun in the water and attending a pro soccer game, the team went undefeated in three games, winning by an average margin of victory of 21 points.

"The Portugal trip was a great experience for everyone in our program,” Belmont head coach Casey Alexander said. “We're grateful for the opportunity to go and excited about the opportunity to accelerate our starting point for the season.”

After taking off from Boston, University of Massachusetts women's basketball landed in Portugal where their first order of business was taking in Lisbon’s historic scenery amidst some of the city’s tight narrow streets via a tuk tuk tour. In between games, the team took a sailboat cruise into the Atlantic Ocean, enjoyed a musical dinner featuring Fado, a genre of Portuguese song, and went sea kayaking. However, an exciting highlight of the trip was a trek to Alcoutim where the team experienced the only cross-border zip line on the globe, taking a boat across the Guadiana River to Spain and zip lining back to Portugal. With a 3-0 record and outdoor adventures, UMass truly had a trip to remember for a lifetime.

Caribbean Dreams

The lovely islands of the Caribbean are always enticing for travelers. This summer, several schools decided to use their NCAA allotted trip every four years to spend some time on tropical islands.

Cal State Bakersfield women’s basketball traveled to Puerto Rico in early August. In between games, a salsa class, a paddle boat lesson and beach lounging, the team also took part in a community service activity

"This foreign tour was such a great experience for our scholar-athletes," head coach Greg McCall said. "Not only did we have a chance to integrate our new players with our returners in a fun environment, but we learned a lot about the Puerto Rican culture through an abroad course that professor Kris Grappendorf oversaw through the university for course credit, we were present in the local community, and we competed with their top competition."

CSU Bakersfield chalked up a perfect 3-0 against the teams they played in Puerto Rico

Two teams spent their summer excursion in Cuba: Coastal Carolina women’s basketball and Louisiana women’s basketball. Both teams had a chance to enjoy Cuban-style salsa dancing with lessons, the historic sights of Havana, beach activities and competitive games.

Coastal Carolina’s week not only included three exhibition games against the Cuban National team but a surprise visit from alumna and ESPN analyst Brooke Weisbrod. A highlight of Louisiana’s trip was putting on a kid’s camp. The team had a great time hosting the youngsters and made some new friends.

 

Overall, each team’s trip echoed the quote from Nevada’s trip blog coined by Dr. Seuss:

"Oh the places you'll go!

There is fun to be done!

There are points to be scored!

There are games to be won.

And the magical things you can

do with that ball will make you

the winningest winner of all!"