The men's basketball program will do something it has not done in more than 20 years when it travels out of the country this month to play the sport that brings them together. This trip will not only jumpstart the 2007–2008 season, but it will also play a major role in recruiting and showing the world that Case Western Reserve is an opportune place for student-athletes to develop academically and athletically.
"I believe our team will benefit from this trip in three ways," said head coach Sean McDonnell. "From a competitive standpoint, it allows us to practice before we travel and while we travel, compete against some outstanding teams. Secondly, I think it helps create some great camaraderie, chemistry, and team cohesion. Thirdly, it provides our players with a glimpse of what life is like outside the United States as they learn about another culture."
Leaving for Brazil on August 12, the team will be able to take in the local sights and the hidden cultural treasures that one can only experience in person. The men's team will also face tough competition when it plays professional basketball teams from Brazil. While there, the Spartans will not stray away from their emphasis on community service, as they will help direct basketball—related clinics for socioeconomically disadvantaged children.
"It might be more conventional to take a team to Western Europe, but I think South America is a great opportunity," said McDonnell.
This undertaking was not cheap. The Spartans had to raise $2,500 per player (12), which included airfare, lodging and meals. The team looked to outside contributions to make the trip less of a financial burden on the student-athletes. McDonnell believes so much in this experience that he and his wife, Angie, pledged $5,000 to cover two players. Other contributions from alumni and friends helped the Spartans reach their goal.
"I am excited and grateful about the contributions that were given," said McDonnell. "Down the road, my expectation will be for these current players to contribute toward future Spartan basketball foreign trips once they've established themselves professionally."
The National Collegiate Athletic Association allows teams to take trips outside the United States once every three years. McDonnell would like the basketball program to be in a position to offer every Spartan basketball player this opportunity during his four-year career.
Last group to go: In May of 1985, Case's legendary basketball coach Bill Sudeck took his team to the Middle East for a two-week tour of Jordan and Bahrain. During the trip, the team competed in six games against the host country's national teams while bonding off the court and experiencing new cultures. Even today, former players look back upon that trip with fondness. "The opportunity to experience a different culture with my teammates was one of the most significant educational experiences I had during my years as a Spartan," said Brian Pennington (CWR '88).
To contribute to future trips, call the basketball office at 216-368-2865 or the development office at 216-368-3992.
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