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ARLINGTON, Texas - UTA women's basketball is less than 24 hours away from embarking on its eight-day, four-game summer tour to Costa Rica where it will take on the University of Ottawa and the Costa Rican National Team.
The student-athletes will have the opportunity to take the court for the first time ahead of the regular season that opens up in November, as well as get to experience the culture and take part in team bonding opportunities.
"Just the trip in general is such a blessing," UTA coach Krista Gerlich said. "We talked about that Friday in how grateful they should be to our boosters, parents and the University to be able to go on a trip like this and experience it. It is an experience that they will always be grateful for and allows so much opportunity for team bonding, growth and to get to know one another and see how another culture lives."
Two of the Lady Mavericks have already experienced foreign travel over the summer as Brooke Alexander went to Europe with UTA's study abroad program and Rebekah VanDijk visited Ivory Coast with Athletes in Action. For many of the rest, it is their first experience being able to visit a foreign country.
"It is really easy to live inside our own bubble in Arlington, and in Texas, and get caught up in what our struggles and problems and daily lives are," Gerlich said. "To be able to go to another country and see people their age and little kids at the orphanage and types of jobs and foods they have, it is an incredible experience that will be life changing for the girls. We don't realize that there is other life out there, I can't explain how awesome it is to get to do this."
UTA will jump right into on-the-court action as it takes on the University of Ottawa with games over Tuesday and Wednesday, both at 5 p.m. CT. The Lady Mavs then take on Costa Rica on Friday and Saturday at 8 and 9 p.m. respectively. All four games will be at BN Arena in San Jose, Costa Rica. The matchups will present a challenge to UTA, playing under FIBA rules with several differences. Gerlich also sees it as an opportunity for her players to see what it could be like to play at the next level.
"All of the rule changes will make us have to make us adjust to their game and play a little faster and more physical," Gerlich said. "It will give them a taste for them to play overseas professionally and they will get to see what basketball will potentially look like for them in the future. I am excited to see how they rise to that challenge."
Along with in-game action, UTA will be able to experience San Jose and its surroundings. The Lady Mavs will be helping out an orphanage, visiting a waterfall park and continue to grow as a unit.
The lead up to the trip has been a blessing in the practice gym for a team that has seven newcomers. A pair of freshmen, as well as a handful of transfers, have been able to work on the court in preparation for the journey.
"It has been incredible," Gerlich said. "The fact that we have been able to spend time in the gym and advance our teaching and put things in, they are catching on so well. It has been fun to seem them and it is awesome to see how excited they are about the trip, and that has been exciting to see."
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