Editor’s note: Anna Heise of University of Maine has agreed to write a blog during the Black Bear women’s basketball team’s trip to Italy. The senior center from Halle, Germany, will provide readers with a student-athlete’s perspective on the experience as the team enjoys the history and culture of Italy while playing a handful of games.

The buses are packed, the air is filled with excitement and the first pictures are taken. The day we’ve been waiting for is finally here — the Black Bear Family is going international.

When Coach (Richard) Barron told us about his idea to go overseas in the beginning of the season, that was all it was, an idea. It sounded great, but we also knew it would take a lot of work and planning. Luckily we have the best support system anybody could ask for, and the idea became more realistic each day.

When Coach Barron finally told us that the trip to Italy was happening, we were jumping up and down in the locker room, hugging each other and dancing (well the people who knew how to dance were).

Going with your whole team on such a trip is amazing, but also having 30 of your fans with you is an incredible feeling. To know that they have our back, no matter where we go, makes me feel truly blessed.

After leaving Orono on Friday morning at 7, the first stop is going to be Montreal, where we will be playing our first game (closed scrimmage) on Friday night. The trip obviously revolves around basketball, but it also has an educational and cultural purpose. I am probably mostly excited about showing the Americans what Europe is all about. I learned so much about the American culture that I cannot wait to show them a glimpse of what home is to us Europeans.

Italy is simply beautiful and after spending several hours online, researching all the different places we are going to see and the “30 Things You Have To Know About Italy” my teammates and I are more than ready to get this adventure started.

I think this trip is a blessing for everybody, but most certainly for our team. Not only is it a great opportunity for team bonding, it also is a great start into the next season. Going to Italy means having 10 more practices and five more games than anybody else in our conference, which is another reason why we are really looking forward to it. The trip allows the coaches to try out things they otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to do; figure out which formations work best, who plays well with each other and who doesn’t, which plays work well for us and which don’t. All in all, the trip is going to help us to figure out how to make our team as successful as possible.

This blog is going to give you the opportunity to follow along with us and have an inside look on what is going on. You will hear about the things we learned, saw and experienced. Stay tuned! GO BLACK BEARS.

About the author: Anna Heise is majoring in Journalism at UMaine with a double minor in Child Development and Family Relations and Creative Writing. She enjoys hanging out with her teammates, traveling, reading and watching movies.

This story has been corrected and updated.