Women's Basketball Plays in Italy

Windows being restoredOn August 6th, ten members of the women’s basketball team, coaching staff, and friends and family embarked on a ten-day Italian adventure. Many of the players had never been to Europe and one had never flown before, so this trip was sure to create a lot of memories for everyone.  The trip was intended to give the players a cultural experience, a chance for team bonding and improve their basketball skills.  We can safely say that all of the above was accomplished.
                Our tour of Italy began in the bustling city of Rome.  The crowded capital has no shortage of historical sites.  In three days we saw so much.  Ancient Rome was amazing with all the ruins at the Forum and on Palantine Hill.  While in the Colosseum we tried to imagine the emperors, gladiators, and spectators during events nearly 2000 years ago!  Walking the streets of Rome and seeing all the fountains, sidewalk cafes, and gelato shops was quite an experience.  The Vatican museum held priceless works of art in the form of paintings, tapestries, and sculptures.  Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel was simply breathtaking and the enormity of St. Peter’s Basilica was hard to grasp. 
Driving through the countryside and seeing the olive groves and vineyards was beautiful.  The small Tuscan hill towns of Orvieto and San Gimignano were charming and such a change from city life.  Visiting Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, and seeing the statue of David was certainly a once in a lifetime experience.  Our final stop brought us to Lake Como, nestled in the foothills of the Italian Alps.  Along Lake Como was saw multi-million dollar villas and visited Bellagio, one of the prettiest towns in Europe.  We know that we just scratched the surface of what Italy has to offer, but it certainly gave us plenty of memories until we return one day.
While the sightseeing and historical sites were amazing, the real focus of the trip were the three basketball games we played against Italian Club teams.  Europeans play a slightly different brand of basketball than we do in the US.  The three-point line is farther away, the shot clock is shorter, and the play is a bit more physical.  We were able to adjust to all of these factors and come away with 2 out of 3 wins.  Our defensive intensity, especially in the last two games, was excellent as we created turnover after turnover.  We ran the floor with speed and precision and played with an intensity that we had rarely displayed.
                Small hotel rooms, hours on a tour bus, and long guided walking tours have a way of bonding people together.  Our team certainly had our share of each of these and benefitted from all of the togetherness.  Our communication skills improved and the sharing of experiences throughout Italy will help strengthen these relationships.  On the court it was plain to see that our time spent in each other’s company helped our teamwork and ability to trust each other.  We look forward to the upcoming season so we can display all we have learned from our overseas experience.