A week and a half before students arrived on campus, the women’s basketball team was on its way to Ireland.
Over the course of their nine-day tour, the Elis traveled the Emerald Isle, led clinics with local youth basketball players and scored victories over each of the three Irish teams they faced. The trip was funded by an endowment from John Lee ’58 that sponsors a trip abroad every four years. Team captain Janna Graf ’14 said the team’s playing quality was especially encouraging for August.
“I was really satisfied because every one came back in shape and looking like they’d really improved over the previous summer,” she said. “It looks like we have a great season ahead.”
The team handily won both its first game, against Galway Select, and its third game, against the Meteors Basketball Club, but the second game posed more of a challenge. In the end, the Bulldogs pulled off a 54–51 win against Glanmire Squad.
“I didn’t ever think we would lose necessarily,” Graf said. “I just didn’t think we were hitting the shots early. We play a fast-paced, transition-based basketball game, so we knew the other team was going to get tired in the last quarter.”
The Bulldogs’ final game featured the presence of a representative from the American ambassador’s office, an Irish senator and nearly 100 fans on hand. But nothing came close to the halftime show: a 45-minute Irish step dancing performance.
“Their footwork was amazing,” guard Sarah Halejian ’15 said. “All of us basketball players were really impressed.”
At the two clinics the Bulldogs taught while in Ireland, Halejian said many of the participants showed up sporting different NBA jerseys. She added that, when tested, they “knew their stuff pretty well.”
However, the trip was not all work and no play. Point guard Whitney Wyckoff ’16 said the team aimed to “experience the country, meet the people and see the sights” when not on the court.
Halejian said she does not think anything could top the trip the team went on.
“The team, the coaches … I couldn’t have thought of better people to go with. It’s just a really great opportunity, and we’re really thankful.”
The Elis’ regular season starts on Nov. 9.