By Benjamin Ramirez
From July 25 to August 2 with “USA” written across their jerseys, seven players from the school’s girls varsity basketball team embarked on a trip to Italy to play against Italian basketball teams.
The team’s coach, Jared Honig, was contacted by America’s Team, an organization that sends teams in multiple sports all around the world, and was asked to put together a team of ten girls from the area to represent the United States. The selected team included seven varsity players, juniors Emily Mitchell, Cristian Patron, Sarah Miranda, and seniors Janelle Jiron, Marlene Salazar, Angel Castro, and Kaitlin Eells, as well as players from other schools.
Spending days in Rome, Milan, and Montecatini, a town outside of Florence, the team did a lot more than just play basketball. Throughout the trip, they went on tours put together by the American Council of International Studies (ACIS), an educational travel company that was partnered with America’s Team, on these tours, they saw many famous sights such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Roman Colosseum and the Vatican among other things.
“[My favorite part was] seeing the girls enjoy the experience,” Honig said.
Because the games against the Italian basketball teams were an exhibition style competition, the games were less about the outcome and more about the improvement and enjoyment that the girls could experience in a competition of that nature.
Despite that, Honig’s motto of playing hard, playing together and having fun were still at the forefront of the game plan. While the games were not competitive, the Italian teams did not treat the games as an exhibition, either. Everyone took the games seriously.
“With a freer, spread out style of play, it played to other girls’ strengths. Being on the team added a sense of leadership and pride to them. [But] basketball is growing [in Italy] and that is the cooler thing,” Honig said.
After travelling across the globe, the girls came back home with a newfound appreciation for not only the game of basketball, but also for Italian culture.
“Every time I spoke in their language, they were shocked, as well as pleased, since most of the vendors there speak English anyway,” Mitchell said.
All in all, it was an experience that these girls will never forget. With school now in session and basketball season coming up in the winter, there are only months left before we get to see the reinvigorated girls varsity basketball team come back and fight for the city title.