The University of Maine women’s basketball team has shared some exciting experiences during the program’s resurgence over the last few years.
This spring, the Black Bears will have another opportunity to expand their collective horizons during a trip to Italy.
“Italy is one of those things that I wouldn’t necessarily be able to experience on my own without the university,” said senior Courtney Anderson of Greene. “It’s really exciting.”
The team will tour Venice, Verona, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Rome from May 15-25.
“It’s been something I’ve probably been working on the last couple years, when to go and where and what we would get the most benefit from,” said UMaine head coach Richard Barron, who previously has visited Italy both as a tourist and to recruit.
The trip is being paid for with private donations, according to UMaine Assistant Athletic Director for Public Relations Laura Reed.
NCAA Division I basketball teams are allowed to participate in such a foreign tour only once every four years. That makes it a one-time opportunity for UMaine student-athletes.
Barron believes the timing is perfect, given UMaine’s large group of upperclassmen, including seven juniors who have been together for three years.
“It’s a chance for team bonding. It’s a chance for the educational experience of going abroad,” said Barron, who explained there are added benefits for the Black Bears’ group of seven international players.
“(It’s) the chance for some of our players to play closer to home, maybe to have family that wouldn’t be able to otherwise see them play,” he explained.
UMaine has players from Greece, England, Germany, Austria, Serbia, Sweden and Finland.
The tour will begin in Montreal, where the Bears will play one game. The group will then fly to Italy and will compete in three games while there.
The trip will include guided tours of each city, along with visits to the Accademia Gallery, a Tuscan farmhouse, the Coliseum and the Forum, the Vatican and the Catacombs.
“I’ve never been to Italy, so I’m really,” said junior Liz Wood, who praised the hard work of the UMaine coaching staff in making the trip a reality.
“It’s going to be a really good experience for us, both in basketball, coming together as a team,” she added.
“There’s so much history there, there’s a lot of places to go where most of our players haven’t been before, so I think it’s an exciting destination,” Barron said.
UMaine is offering a limit number of fans the chance to join the team on its trip to Italy. The cost is $3,500 for individuals and $6,000 for couples and includes bus transportation to Montreal, round-trip airfare to Italy, hotels, daily breakfast and dinner, ground transportation and guided tours.
Anyone interested in the tour must commit by March 17 by making a 50 percent, nonrefundable deposit. For more information, contact Buffie McCue at 207-581-1130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.