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Nov. 21, 2017

This summer, the Cavaliers headed down to Costa Rica, going on a foreign tour of the country from August 5-13. The trip included plenty of sightseeing, team bonding and fun activities, but started with basketball. Lots of basketball. The team flew down on a Saturday and then played games on three straight days from Sunday through Tuesday, taking on Ottawa and the Costa Rican National Team.

“All of the games were played with international rules, which are a little different than what we were used to,” said junior forward Moné Jones. “For me, the side out-of-bounds rules were a big difference where you couldn’t pass backcourt if you were already on one side. Also, on the free throw line, there were times that you didn’t have someone underneath the basket, the opponents would be clear off the lane and standing back. I didn’t understand that rule. The shot clock was a big difference. It was 24 seconds and off an offensive rebound, it doesn’t reset to the full 24, it only resets to 14. You had to move in the offense really quick. On an offensive rebound, it either had to be a putback or a quick shot.”

“Ottawa was more of a screening team with a lot of sets,” redshirt sophomore forward Shakyna Payne recalled. “They set a lot of screens and didn’t really look inside. They relied mostly on their guards. They had a lot of talent and were a fun team to play. We also appreciated being able to play against the Costa Rican National Team. They definitely were guard heavy. It was cool to play the national team in their home country.”

The second half of the trip involved more sightseeing and fun activities. The team headed out to Jaco Beach, stopping at a bridge over the Tárcoles River to see some of the largest crocodiles on the planet. They also went zip lining and ATV riding in the Los Sueños rain forest. Some of the players even hit the waves and took surfing lessons. The team also had some epic volleyball matches at the hotel pool.

In addition to everything that the players saw, they also got to experience new foods. Sophomore guard Jocelyn Willoughby really enjoyed casado, a traditional dish of rice and beans. Senior guard J’Kyra Brown was one of the players who enjoyed trying something new.

“I’m a very picky eater, so trying new things was an accomplishment,” she said. “It was fun.”

The favorite activity from the trip, however, were two visits the team took to the Asociacion Obras de Espiritu Santo orphanage in San José.

“We got to play with some toddlers and some babies,” said senior guard Aliyah Huland-El. “We also played basketball and jumped rope with some young school-aged kids and brought them some new soccer balls and other equipment. It was such a great experience and so humbling.”

The team, who brought gifts of gear, playground equipment and other toys to the orphanage, enjoyed the first visit so much, they asked to change the trip’s itinerary to make room for a second trip to visit.

“When we travel during the year as a team, we go, play a game and then come home, but this trip as something special,” said head coach Joanne Boyle. “This was quality time away. This was bonding. This was creating memories and having a really good time, with us working together to get ready for the season.”

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