BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) – August may be known for Friday Night Lights, but the Illinois Wesleyan men’s and women’s basketball teams are set to jet on an international trip of a lifetime next week.
The programs usually play in other countries once every four years, but last year’s trip was postponed due to still ongoing coronavirus restrictions with travel.
The men’s team will be playing in Greece while the women will spend their time in Rome. The journey has been in the works for months.
“I just think it’s an incredible opportunity for the girls and their families and then also just putting it together with our basketball family,” said women’s head coach Mia Smith. “That’s what I’m really excited about. We’re gonna make some incredible memories as a basketball family, parents and team.”
Ron Rose, the IWU men’s coach added he wants his players to enjoy “the cultural experience.” Players on both sides are thrilled with taking off next week.
“I’m very excited. It’s such a great opportunity that we have that I know many other people don’t have. So, feeling very blessed for that.”
Katelyn Heller, Illinois Wesleyan Women’s Guard
Lucas Heflen, a guard on the men’s team, said, “I have no idea what to expect.” He stated he had known players who had played overseas and said the competition was “very widespread.”
What the players and coaches are looking forward to most though are the experiences they’ll have off the court.
“It’s awesome. Just knowing that we’re going to be in Italy in at least four different places. It’s like I said an awesome experience,” said Heller.
Coach Rose added “Watch your team really grow as a group. And the way to build team chemistry, one of the best ways is to give common experiences and get to know each other better. And to be able to do that overseas and be able to see the historical sites that we’re going to see in Greece is going to be amazing.”