Just as soon as the Wesmen women’s basketball team began a month-long break from regular season games, they were packing their bags and heading overseas.
For the first week of December, the team travelled to Europe to train in Bonn, Germany.
The trip was funded by the players themselves and intended to expose them to semi-pro basketball in Europe.
“We were part of a semi-pro combine camp. We got to scrimmage against these players in Germany,” said head coach Tanya McKay, proudly adding the women actually defeated one team.
Most of the players at the camp came from the United States to be scouted, hoping to play basketball professionally somewhere in Europe. Practicing with players at that level was an invaluable experience for McKay’s team.
“Individually they see where they’re at, and what they can do if they go on to play semi-pro,” she said.
However, the true benefit of the trip was in the cultural experience shared by the team.
The trips are meant to motivate the players and give them a memorable life experience, McKay said.
The teams stayed with a number of home-stay families while in Germany, foregoing the comfort of hotel rooms to experience the distinct culture of their destination.
“The value was in the whole experience, the culture shock, the fast pace,” she said. “It’s different, the food is different, there’s a language barrier and your cellphone doesn’t work.”
The team has previously been to England for similar training sessions, and is considering travelling to Israel in the near future.
These trips are not meant only to improve the players’ skills on the court, but also to improve their sense of the world and appreciation for what it has to offer.
Throughout their travels, fourth-year post Lauren Anderson kept a blog entitled Wesmen Women Abroad.
“She likes to do that kind of thing,” McKay said, adding it was easier than sending text messages to communicate with fans, family and friends back home.
The blog, initiated by Anderson, received an overwhelmingly positive response from readers.
Documenting the trip, the blog includes training sessions and trips to the Bonn Christmas Market.
To read more about the trip, visit http://wwbabroad.blogspot.ca.
Published in Volume 67, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 16, 2013)