Toledo completed its 10th and final full-team practice Friday in advance of its trip to Italy. The Rockets are slated to visit Venice, Bologna, Sorrento and Rome from Saturday, Aug. 3, through Tuesday, Aug. 13.
“I was very pleased with how quickly this team picked things up over the course of these 10 practices and how they were able to follow through with what we were teaching,” said Head Coach Tricia Cullop. “They got along very well and have continued to grow and improve. I can’t wait to see them apply those skills in our exhibition games in Italy.”The NCAA allows teams to take a summer foreign trip every four years. This is the Rockets’ first opportunity since their trip to England and Spain in 2015.
The Midnight Blue and Gold left Aug. 3 for an 11-day basketball and cultural excursion to Southern Europe. Toledo will play three exhibition games and do some sightseeing in the home country of senior Mariella Santucci.
The Rockets will compete against the Bologna All-Stars Monday, Aug. 5, the Sorrento All-Stars Thursday, Aug. 8, and the Rome All-Stars Saturday, Aug. 10.
Junior Tatyana Davis thought the 10 practices were extremely beneficial to build team chemistry and is excited to get started on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. ”These 10 practices have been great, especially since we have six newcomers in our program,” Davis said. “I feel like we’re taking the right steps to build our team chemistry, and this trip will only make it stronger.”Davis added, “I’m so excited for this opportunity to travel to Italy. I can’t wait to see where Mariella grew up and experience a culture that is different from my own.”
The 11-day excursion was entirely paid for through fundraising efforts by the women’s basketball program.
“We can’t thank the generosity of our fan club [The Igniters] and Toledo community enough for making this trip a reality,” Cullop said.
The Toledo women’s basketball team spent its first day in Italy Sunday taking in the sights of Venice before spending the night in Bologna.
“To finally be here is truly a pleasure,” Cullop said. “We hit the ground running in Venice, and everything we did today was awesome. On top of all that, we had the opportunity to meet Mariella’s whole family and that was a treasured moment. Just to see the smile on Mariella’s face has made the trip worth it.”
The Rockets hit the ground running after their seven-plus hour overnight flight to Amsterdam, followed by a two-hour connection to Venice. UToledo took part in a 30-minute boat ride to Venice City Center, where they ate lunch at Ca Dogi before going on a one-hour guided walking tour through San Marco Square. After the tour, the team split up into groups and went on a gondola ride down the Grand Canal.
The team then reconvened at their bus before making the two-hour trip to Bologna, the hometown of Santucci. After checking into Hotel Tre Vecchi, the Rockets were on their own for dinner and entertainment for the remainder of the evening.
“The last 24-plus hours have been fast paced, but at the same time, it’s been really exciting,” junior Tanaya Beacham said. “We got right off the plane and went straight to a boat in Venice and then traveled a couple hours to Bologna. It doesn’t get much better than that. This trip is a dream come true.”
Monday the Rockets will take part in a cooking class in the morning before playing the first of three exhibition games against the Bologna All-Stars.
Following the contest, Toledo will eat dinner with Santucci’s family at a local restaurant.