The Augustana basketball teams are heading to Brazil this week and will be blogging on the trip. Brandon Motzel is blogging for the men’s team and you can catch their blog posts on the D3hoops.com Daily Dose. Chaney Tambling is blogging for the women’s team.
Excited does not even begin to describe what our team is feeling. Not only have we been looking forward to this all summer, but also since the coaches started recruiting us.
I remember the first time I met Coach G. The first thing he showed me was all of Augustana’s championship rings, followed by pictures and stories from their previous international trips to Europe, Ireland, and Asia. When he mentioned that we would be going to Rio de Janeiro during our four years, I could not wait. I know the upperclassmen have been waiting even longer than I have, and when we talked about it during this last weekend of practices, I heard the phrase, “I can’t believe it’s finally here,” many times.
These were our last two days to get ready, but we have been in preparation for Brazil since early spring.
It began with team skill workouts and “Brazil-bond Thursdays” with our strength coach, Darren Phelps. We also had three informative seminars with Augustana professor Mariano Magalhães. He gave us a basic introduction into Brazilian culture, what to expect, and a short lesson in useful Portuguese phrases to learn. Maybe the best part of the sessions was when we learned how to Samba, a skill that will be put to good use in Brazil. I was ready to jump on the plane for the 11 hour flight to Brazil after all that, but we still had all summer to wait.
We finally arrived back on campus July 18 to begin the first of our 10 days of summer practice. The first night back, we played in the final game of the PepsiCo Summer league, followed by a practice at the Carver Center. It felt like we were playing in a sauna it was so hot and humid on the court. Everyone was slipping and falling all over the place, but despite the conditions, we were all happy to be playing and practicing as a team again. We went through all our offensive sets for Brazil, and spent a lot of time working on our defense and communication, just a few keys to our team.
It stayed hot for most of the days we were on campus, so it was a huge benefit to get to stay in the Parkander Apartments with the AC on. No one wanted to move after two-a-days, so in my apartment we played cards and talked about the upcoming trip for hours. This was a lot of fun, but none of us minded when we had to stop playing to head over to one of the coaches’ houses for a cookout once each weekend. Coach G had us over for the first weekend, and while we were there he showed us some Travel Channel shows on the food in Brazil. Honestly, some of the dishes on the show, like pork with chicken blood as a sauce, had us feeling a little queasy and apprehensive, but the team’s consensus was to at least try a little bit of everything.
This decision was also reinforced by several alumni that stopped by over the three weekends. Drew and Brett Wessels were two that spoke to us. They offered advice on everything from their trips abroad to life after college in the real world. We all listened attentively soaking up as much information as we could because we knew all of these guys have been very successful both on and off the court. Kyle Nelson, Bryant Voiles, and Dain Swetalla also visited; these guys have all been playing professionally since graduating from Augustana. They were able to give advice on international basketball, which was great for us because there are several major rule differences. These three also scrimmaged with the team, which really reinforced the sense of family and camaraderie between the Augustana basketball family, both current and former.
I didn’t think I could be any more excited for the trip, but after experiencing that, I knew the trip would also bring our already close-knit team even closer together.
So, after all this preparation, IT’S FINALLY HERE! We depart for São Paulo Brazil, on Monday night from O’Hare Airport where we will begin the trip of a lifetime!