By Jacob Johnston
The 2016-2017 Augustana men’s basketball team’s Spain and Italy trip has officially begun!
We started practicing about three weeks ago to get us in shape and game ready. Like everything we do at Augustana, these practices were intense and competitive, but also fun since we knew we would soon be traveling to Europe.
Coach Giovanine even kept us in the spirit by playing classical Spanish and Italian music over the speakers before our morning practices. Some of the guys even practiced their dancing on the court before we began our actual basketball practice. Our pre-trip practices concluded on Wednesday, May 25, giving the guys Wednesday night and Thursday to go home, spend some time with family, and pack for the flight.
We planned to meet at O’Hare at 1:00 p.m. and everyone arrived early, except for senior Michael Hoekstra, who showed up at 1:01. After this delay (thanks Mike), we checked our bags and made our way through security. Thankfully this only took us about 50 minutes so we were able to relax and make it to our gate in plenty of time. At our gate, assistant coach Tom Jessee surprised us with nice, new Augustana basketball shirts to wear and make us easily identifiable. We took a picture and sat down waiting for our flight to board.
The closer we get to boarding our flight the more excited the guys were getting. This will be the first time out of the country for many of the players and the first time on a plane for junior Sean Anger, so he was a little nervous.
We are expecting to land in Madrid, Spain around 7:30 a.m. (our body time), and then we are flying into Barcelona, Spain arriving around 11 a.m. Once we land, we go straight into touring the city with some free time to explore. We will then have a short practice as we have our first game Sunday, May 29 against the European Basketball Academy, which trains young athletes to become professional players.
This will be our first challenge as a team, and the guys are excited for the opportunity. Barcelona here we come!