Tommie Sports - Women's Basketball

Women's Hoops starts 2-0 in Italy; photos, blogs here

August 26, 2011

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Stunning sights are part of the Tommie women's basketball trip to Italy.

Italy Trip

Our trip was fantastic! The charm, the richness and the beauty of Italy has touched us all. On our trip we were able to share life together in so many ways: as a basketball team playing on the court together in a different country, as people, learning more and more about each other as individuals through life stories and as students being immersed in the history and culture of Italy. These experiences and memories will be with us as we move forward; they give us a new perspective of reference.  It was a special trip!

A big thank you to our travel agency, Team USA Tours, they created a well planned itinerary giving us the opportunity to see Italy up close and personal.  We loved our guide Lynn who was kind, understanding and helpful. Lynn made our time in Italy so enjoyable and meaningful. To our city guides Carolina and Antonio, thank you for your expertise we were impressed and inspired. And of course a big thank you to Barb Dunker who helped organize and support the entire trip.

Girls, thank you for representing our program with respect, class and dignity. You made an impression in Italy that here at St Thomas the students are fine well rounded people. We are all so proud to have you wear the uniform of St Thomas.

Thank you all…..Arrividerci!

Day Seven - Rome (Aug. 29)

 

 

There are many ways in which to tour Rome … Rome at night, Rome by double-decker bus, Rome by moped … but we toured this great city the old-fashioned way, by foot. We walked the streets of Rome, weaving in and out of the cobblestone streets seeing all the incredible sights Rome has to offer. It was a fantastic experience.

 

Our day began at St. Peter’s where we were met again by our tour guide Antonio. Here we toured the Vatican Museums seeing first hand all the magnificent artifacts and pieces of history. The information and stories we heard made the entire experience unbelievable. We saw marble statues, colorful mosaics and frescos and huge tapestries that took years and years to complete.  It was an inspiring morning filled with beauty.

 

We then made our way to the Sistine Chapel, learning more and more about fresco painting and Michelangelo, the genius who created this masterpiece. It was a beautiful room to view beginning with the images depicting the Old Testament and the creation of the world and ending with the judgment day. We learned about the part the Sistine Chapel plays when a new pope is elected during conclave.

 

We are now on our way to view St. Peter’s Basilica. WOW!  St. Peter’s is the biggest church in the entire world. It is home to the Pope (who was not in Rome) and home to many of the former popes who have passed away.  We viewed the Pieta, the memorial and tomb of John Paul II who has just become beatified. We rubbed the foot of the statue of St Peter and viewed his resting place under the magnificent alter of the Church. We prayed in a chapel and were overwhelmed by the beauty and feelings this church inspired in each of us. It was an awe-inspiring time for each of us to be in this holy place.

 

Next, the Spanish Steps. As we made our way through the city, we view every inch and every building, sight after sight there is something stunning and quaint. We are walking and watching the city of Rome. The Spanish Steps are beautiful, the shops, the fountain and the culture make this place come alive. The girls go to the top of the steps to see the roof tops of Rome.

 

We march on to the Trevi Fountain, to throw our coins in the fountain and wish for a return trip to Rome. The girls are all excited and quickly find a spot in the front of the fountain to toss their coins but also to take in the entire experience, the people, the city and the of course Gelato will make it all complete.

 

The Pantheon is next on our stops. We visit the Pantheon, the only relic from Imperial Rome that has remained intact. The Pantheon is a temple, its domed ceiling, its marbled floors, it’s beautiful designs and the tomb of Raphael makes this monument perfect.

 

We make our way back to the hotel to prepare for our farewell dinner followed by, Italian style, a walk of the city. Dinner is delicious and we say goodbye to our hosts. On to view the city by night. We walk to Piazza Navona, the girls stopping at the market and making their last purchases. Then, we begin our walk to Campo dei Fiori to experience the culture of Rome with all the festivities and the nightlife. It has been a special trip, one each of us will never forget.

 

 

 

Player Blog/Haley Loesch(Aug. 29)

The Vatican, Some Steps, a Fountain and the Pantheon

What a day. We spend the first part of the day in a different country, Vatican City, then walk clear across the city of Rome to the Spanish Steps, and walking back to our hotel only to hit a few very famous places in Italy.

 

We started the day out traveling through the Vatican museums, viewing famous sculptures and paintings from some of Italy’s most famous artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci. Only then do we pass through the world famous Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s most famous commissioned work. If you did not know, Michelangelo happened to a pretty good painter. Then we entered St. Peter’s Basilica. A church that took 176 years to build, constructed from stone, marble and bronze. Breathtaking. It may be the most impressive thing I have ever seen in my life. Here we are in a place that is so well known throughout the world, with so much history. I actually got chills when I walked in. Words or pictures do not do this place justice.

 

After arriving at the Spanish Steps, we made our way back across the city to our hotel, only to stop at some of the most famous places in the world on the way. Our first stop on the way back was Trevi Fountain. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Impressive. Everything about the city of Rome fascinates me, and the Trevi Fountain did not disappoint. Depicted in numerous movies and on television, it is even more beautiful in person. Wishes are supposed to made at Trevi according to legend. Take a coin, close your eyes, make a wish, take it with your right hand and toss it over you left shoulder into the fountain. I completed the process and made a wish – something to cross of my bucket list. And  Instead of a ten cent coin, I used a two euro coin….so my wish better come true.

 

From Trevi we were off to the Pantheon where the first and second kings of Italy, a queen, and the famous painter Raphael are all buried. One again, just a beautiful place. The architecture resembles numerous other ancient buildings in Rome, but it is just so impressive! The Romans were way ahead of their time with numerous things back in the time of the Roman Empire. I see what it looks like today, and I can only imagine what it all looked like back in its hay day.

 

So four stops and ten miles later, we arrive back at our hotel on foot. Time for dinner.

Day Six – Rome (Aug. 28)

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Roma! We entered the great city of Rome at 12:30 pm and met our Italian guide, Antonio, for an overview of some of the world-famous sites.  We saw everything from the Colosseum, the Forum, the Castel Sant’ Angelo, the Arch of Constantine, and finally to St. Peter’s.  Every corner you turn brings into view another incredible piece of history. 

We checked into our hotel, the Hotel San Pietro, located very near Vatican City.  There wasn’t much time to waste since there was a Mass at the Basilica of Saint Peter.  We had a group who was very excited about the opportunity to attend Sunday Mass.  Entering the Basilica required going through a security check.  The group passed through the check with their bags as well as their attire.  We made our way to the front of the church and Mass was being said in Italian.  The experience was both impressive and humbling. 

From St. Peter’s we walked along the Tiber River to the Ponte Umberto I where the group crossed over the Tiber to get to the Piazza Navona.  This plaza dates to 80 AD and was the home of chariot races around the long, oval piazza.  Today restaurants and cafes are built around three fountains, musicians and artists set up shop in the piazza to sell their wares.  It is a busy, exciting place to enjoy all sorts of different activities. Sarah Smith, Ali Johnson, Haley Loesch and Courtney Falk had caricatures drawn by one of the street artists; Taylor Young, Kellie Ring and Maggie Weiers “talked” with a mime; Lizzi Traxler, Courtney, Haley, Emmy Eschrich and Kelly Brandenburg purchased paintings of Rome from the artists themselves; and Moriah Mitchell and Courtney spent time watching the street dancers perform.  And, of course, all the people watching. 

Carolyn Dienhart, Sarah and Ali sat at a nearby café and watched all the activity going on in the piazza.  There was a wedding party who came to take pictures at the Four Rivers Fountain.  But not to be outdone, Roz Chromy reported she has over 1,000 photos currently on her camera. 

Dinner was at a quaint restaurant near our hotel.  The food was very good, the company was even better and the service was attentive and friendly.  We even had live entertainment through dinner Italian style. 

To end our first day in Rome, we walked back to St. Peter’s Square to see the Basilica at night.  The atmosphere is peaceful and made for a perfect ending to a wonderful day. 

Gelato Flavor of the Day --S

 

 

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Player Blog/Ali Johnson(Aug. 28)

Today we took a bus tour of Rome. I think everyone really enjoyed the tour with our  Italian guide Antonio. We got off the bus at the Coliseum and took lots of pictures. The picture of the day was definitely a photo of all of us facing the Coliseum while placing our hands on the butt of the person standing next to us. And we wonder why we got all that attention from Italian boys..... After getting to the hotel a few people chose to go to church in at St Peters in the Vatican city and the rest of the group walked to a market. They enjoyed the Mass and the view St Peter’s had to offer. The rest of us enjoyed walking around the market, but my day really took a turn for the better when I found a giant candy stand in one of the markets. This is my kind of Country! Courtney probably purchased her 89th scarf of the trip and then we headed back to the hotel and went to dinner at a cute little restaurant not far from our hotel. Spaghetti was the pasta served at dinner, so needless to say, we all reenacted the scene from Lady and the Tramp. It was a perfect day for our first day in Rome!

Day Five – Cinque Terre region (Aug. 27)

Our day started with an early wake-up call for breakfast and then back on the bus for a 1-1/2 hour ride to La Spezia.  On the drive we passed a mountain range that looked like there was still snow on the peaks.  Our guide corrected that impression and told us this is where the world’s finest marble is extracted.  Michelangelo, we learned, chose marble from this quarry for some of his masterpieces.

Our final destination was the Cinque Terre area which sits on the Ligurian Sea.  Cinque Terre is made up of five villages each with a distinct personality.  These villages are unique with multi-colored houses that overlook the jagged rocks and crashing waves of the sea.  The villages were initially built to gain an advantage against pirate attacks.  Now the region is known for its agriculture, its fishing and the tourism industry.  And we could clearly see why.

We experienced all of these aspects of the region.  We saw how they farmed the grapes on the terraces with the cars built to harvest the grapes, we enjoyed watching fishermen fish the sea as well as tasting the fresh products that come from the local farms and seafood products.  And we were definitely tourists.  We calculated that our group combined to take over 300 pictures today. 

What an amazing place.  The girls enjoyed each of the villages through hiking, people watching and, yes, even swimming the sea.  Kelly Brandenburg, Sarah Smith and Moriah Mitchell swam in the sea.  They reported that the water is very salty.  Roz Chromy felt that this was one of the most beautiful places she had ever been.

It was another gorgeous day visiting a part of Italy unlike anything we’ve seen before.  The sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs, the warm summer sun and the chance to be with good friends made for another memorable day.

Until tomorrow, ciao!

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Player Blog/Carolyn Dienhart(Aug. 27)

Today we toured the Cinque Terre, a series of five towns on the coast of Italy.  Talking to everyone, it seems like the Cinque Terre has been one of the best parts of the trip thus far.  It is a mountainous farming region, so farmers have to create walls to keep the soil from sliding down.  The series of walls along with the bright blue water and the beautiful buildings make the area picture perfect. 

However, we found plenty of other things to look at besides the beautiful scenery.  Getting a little taste of Italian culture, some of the girls came back from the public beach saying they saw a family completely change out of their swimsuits in front of crowds of people.  Because the Cinque Terre is known for their pesto and focasia bread, I not only saw plenty of that, but left the area complaining of a stomach ache. Lizzi and I saw Sarah playing on a playground that most Italians of average height (short, like me) would have found challenging.  We also saw another man who seemed to approach every blonde girl on our team multiple times.  He asked for a kiss from every one of them in not only Italian, but in English and Spanish.  Rejection didn’t seem to bother him.

After the day at the coast, we went back to the hotel for another great meal and went into town for another gelato.  The flavor of the day was difficult to determine because we seem to have a biased sample.  Those who eat the most gelado seem to be the most vocal about their opinions of the flavor of the day.  However, our imperfect poll seems to indicate that grapefruit is the flavor of the day. 

 

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Day Four – Il Poggio Vineyard and Lucca (Aug. 26)

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The day began for the girls with free time to explore more of Montecatini.  Even though the Miss Italia contestants are in the city we seem to be an attraction as well.  While waiting to board our bus a newspaperman approached the group and asked if he could take a few pictures of the girls with the mounted police who were nearby.  The girls may have their photo in tomorrow’s edition of the Montecatini News.  We’ll be sure to check the newsstand.

Off to a vineyard nearby – Fattoria Il Poggio.  We were met by our guide, Elena, who charmed all of us with her wit, energy and sparkling personality.  Before we were served lunch, everyone got a chance to see where the grapes are grown.  Il Poggio produces a variety of olive oils and wines, and we got a chance to sample these with fresh-made pasta and other Italian delicacies.  To cap off the wonderful lunch, two of the waiters brought out a special dessert in honor of Carolyn Dienhart’s birthday.  The group sang happy birthday, and the waiters wished her happy birthday the Italian way! 

Our next stop was the city of Lucca.  This city dates to medieval times which is evident by the tall, brick wall that surrounds it.  Still intact, it’s easy to imagine the sense of security and protection the wall provided the townspeople of Lucca.  The girls were charmed by the city but most importantly were delighted by the shopping available!

Back to Montecatini for dinner and then a walk into the heart of town for Gelato for Carolyn’s birthday.  A tasty ending to another wonderful day in Italy.   

Gelato flavor of the day – Rio!  Ciao.

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Day Four- Florence(Aug. 25)

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FLORENCE.  Oh my, what a city.  We were met by our professional guide, Carolina, and she began our tour by taking us to Florence’s biggest masterpiece, the Duomo (the Cathedral of Saint Maria del Fiore).  The Duomo is the third-largest Cathedral in the world, and photographs just don’t do it justice.  It is breathtaking.  Maggie Weiers was amazed at the size of the building.  We continued our tour on cobblestone streets seeing and feeling the presence of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael and other famous Renaissance figures.  

 Florence is an amazing city and our tour guide gave us stories of how this city became what it is today – a city of many faces.  From the art and crypts within Santa Croce to the shops of the most exclusive designers in the world.  Florence has it all. 

Strolling the streets we saw talented artists painting murals, accomplished musicians playing their instruments and something new, the gypsies.  Sarah Smith came up with the fun fact of the day regarding the padlocks seen around the Ponte Vecchio.  Tradition says that two people in love write their names on a padlock, secure it to the bridge and they are then blessed with a lifetime of happiness. 

The day was warm and sunny and our group was ready to get to Montecatini, our next destination.  We arrived, checked in to the hotel, swam and were ready for a delicious dinner at 7:30.  As in Italy, after dinner we strolled to the public square to view the red-carpet presentation of the Miss Italy contestants.  It was a quite an event.  The townspeople of Montecatini came out in full force and the atmosphere was festive.  

Our evening couldn’t end without the “gelato flavor of the day.”  Today’s winner was peach of the day!

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Coach Sinn Blog -- Day Two (Aug. 24)

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Day Two was a busy day traveling and sightseeing.  We began by revisiting the quaint village of Norcia to see the shops and the markets in the daylight and to also people watch.  The prime people watching location is on the steps of the church.  We had lunch at the Hotel served by Savino and his wonderful staff.  Pasta, of course, was on the menu.  And that’s not a complaint – the pasta served is fresh and different than what is served in American restaurants.  The dining room was full of athletes – our basketball athletes as well as many soccer players.  As our team stood to leave the dining room they were sent off with a round of applause and shouts of “bella, bella.” There were a few red faces among the UST girls! 

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Perugia was our next stop.  This medieval city remains completely intact and is a great example of a well-preserved hilltop town.  Our guide made sure we got to view many of the fantastic sights.  A highlight was visiting the Cathedral of San Lorenzo.  This Cathedral’s claim to fame is that it’s the home of the Virgin Mary’s wedding ring.  The ring is hidden in a series of 15 boxes, each secured by a separate lock.  The group enjoyed some free time to do shopping and sightseeing.  The girls all loved the shopping.  Ali Johnson and Maggie Weiers continued to find every shoe store in town.   The problem they ran into, however, was the shopkeepers’ insistence that they didn’t carry Ali and Maggie’s shoe sizes!

Then it’s time for the team’s next game.  Our opponent was a city team from Perugia.  Before the game began, the two teams exchanged gifts.  The Tommies had a key chain and UST silly bands for the Perugians, and they in turn gave each of the UST players a bag of candies from their home region.  Yummy!

The Tommies started strong and led the entire game.  The final score was 69-31.  Leading scorers were Roz Chromy with 10 points, Maggie with 9 and Ali and Kelly Brandenburg with 8 each.  All 13 UST players scored.

Back to our hotel in Norcia to shower, change and then end the evening with pizza.  We discovered a pizzeria and with our guide’s help ordered a tasty pizza pie for all of us.  Carolyn Dienhart took a chance and ordered what she believed to be pizza but discovered it was more like a calzone that included hot dogs!   

To end another wonderful day in Italy … gelato for everyone.  The girls have decided there should be a gelato “flavor of the day.”  The winning flavor for Day Two is Kinder, a vanilla gelato with German chocolate pieces.

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Player Blog/Lizzi Traxler (Aug. 25)

Today we left the city of Norcia to visit Perugia about an hour and a half away. When we arrived in Perugia, we got to take a mini-metro train up the mountain to the capital of Umbria. Here there were many sites to see including the Fontana Maggiore, which we stopped by to pose for a photo. The fountain depicts the 12 months of the year and what activities the city is involved in during each month. Right next to the fountain is the Duomo, which is a church that holds the tombs of two popes who died in the city, Urban IV and Martin IV.  This church also holds a piece of agate, which is thought to be the wedding ring of the Virgin Mary. Mary is also honored by a painting called “Madonna delle Grazie.” Many people believe the painting has miraculous powers and pray there especially for the health of their newborn children.

We explored the rest of the Perugian sites and shopped in the stores along the streets. They even had a Foot Locker, which was my favorite shop. We saw many people with NBA jerseys such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Allen Iverson. After a few hours of exploring we headed back down the mountain to our second and final basketball game of the trip. We won the game and exchanged gifts with the team. We received a bag of Italian chocolates and candy and gave them UST key chains and silly bands. When we returned to Norcia, we went out for Pizza and Gelato; the perfect way to end a great day!

Coach Sinn Blog -- Day One (Aug. 23)

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Buongiorno!  It's hard to believe we're all on our way to Rome, Italy. 

We've been planning this trip for a long time and here we are -- 15 travelers -- ready for an experience of a lifetime.    

Day One -- Travel day.  We met at the airport Monday morning for a full day of travel, through Chicago with a layover and then on to Rome. We boarded the plane with travel bags, plenty of reading material and lots of expectations.  

The flight to Chicago was smooth and fast.  Kellie Ring experienced an overzealous flight attendant who obviously had some control issues.  I guess Kellie didn't tie her shoe properly.  Kellie survived and it gave the group a great laugh.   

On to Roma.  That flight was smooth too but certainly not quick.  The flight lasted almost nine hours.  Rome is seven hours ahead of Minnesota time so we arrived in Rome at 2:15 a.m. Minnesota time, 9:15 a.m. Rome time.  Customs was quick and efficient. Lynn, our guide in Italy, was waiting for us in the baggage area.  Everyone's luggage was retrieved -- Kelly Brandenburg was relieved -- and we were off to our first destination, the village of Norcia.   

Norcia is located northeast of Rome in the Umbrian region.  The region is mountainous and beautiful.  Many of the villages we saw date from the Dark Ages.  These villages, in order to protect the townspeople from attack, were built on top of the mountain.  Every village has a prominent church or cathedral that anchors the town square.  This part of Italy has experienced earthquakes, snow and many different types of weather, and through it all these towns have survived.  

We checked into our hotel for a quick lunch of ... you guessed it ... pasta!!  The food was fresh, delicious and very authentic.  In Italy, pasta is served as the first course and the meat and salad follow.  We enjoyed our first official meal in Norcia.    

On to the team's first game.  Our opponent came from the town of Spoleto, a bus ride of an hour from Norcia.  The game was held in the Sporting Center adjacent to our hotel.  So, we were the home team!  The game followed international rules and the court was marked accordingly.  The Tommies didn't suffer from jet lag and were able to win the game 82-18. 

The Spoleto team was very complimentary and good sports.  It was a friendly game.  Leading scorers for UST were Maggie Weiers with 14 points and Ali Johnson with 11.    

We joined the Spoleto team for dinner in Norcia at Hotel Ristorante Grotta Azzurra.  Again, we had fabulous food.  Pasta was on the menu as well as veal, mushrooms and roasted tomatoes that were fresh from the vine.  Lizzi Traxler especially enjoyed the fresh tomatoes. 

We're taking a little creative license with the famous saying "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."  So we took this to mean "when in Norcia, do as the Norcians do."  The townspeople end their evening with a stroll through the square. We enjoyed the stroll and some unexpected dancing, visiting and, for good measure, stopped for gelato.  The people of Norcia are quite warm and friendly, and we felt very welcomed.   

We couldn't have asked for a better start to our time in Italy. 

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Player Blog/Sarah Smith (Aug. 24)

Italy has already been full of educational items and discoveries for us.  For example, we have learned that while Courtney can’t quite get the Italian accent, she has perfected the Frenchman’s laugh and that just as Carolyn was easily mistook as one of the kids while coaching camps, she is literally one of two that can pass as one of the locals.  Or that Kelly Brandenburg is quite the translator when it comes to foreign ATM’s. 

In our first game we found out that while the Italian teams may look small -- and by small I mean that they look like the Tom Cruise to our Katie Holmes -- they are not afraid to try and go to the lane on us. The smallest girl on their team (picture Kellie Ring at age 7) attempted to post up on Haley. Granted she lasted all of .70 seconds before she realized her mistake, but still had the guts to then try her luck against Roz in the next quarter.  We also realized that there are refs that love a good “travel” just as much as those in the MIAC. After we won 80-18, it was back to the hotel for a night out in Norcia.

Once inside the city of Norcia, we quickly learned that Italian men seem to be quite attracted to blondes, although I think it’s simply because we brunettes were playing a little harder to get.  It seemed as though everyone was going to find their soul mate here: Maggie’s in the form of a 40-year-old man with a picture phone, Kelly in the form of a 15-year-old in a red soccer uniform, and me in the form of a sweet, sweet gelato. Although I would argue that my soul mate treated us the best, it was Kelly’s and his companions that left us with possibly the most exotic view we will see all trip: on our walk back to the hotel they all decided to drop trousers and show us what their version of an Italian moon looks like.

 

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Photos from the rest of the trip:

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Tommies In Italy 

The University of St. Thomas women’s basketball team is preparing for its Aug. 2Coach pic2-30 trip to Rome, Italy. The Toms will play three games and immerse themselves in the culture and beauty of one of the world's most scenic countries.  

It's second international trip in four years for UST women's basketball, which traveled to Brazil in August 2008. Coach Ruth Sinn sees many positives with this latest unique opportunity.

Sinn's said international travel “helps develop the whole person." She said Tommie student athletes get an opportunity to experience life outside of the St. Thomas community.

"They get to see first hand another culture and communicate in another language," Sinn said. That adds to their growth as a whole person and provides a tremendous opportunity for our young ladies.”

PHOTOS: Top, Ruth Sinn; below, Haley Loesch

Player picThe players don't take for granted these opportunities. “I am excited to play ball overseas, but I am also looking forward to seeing sights that I’ve only dreamed about seeing,” says Tommie senior Haley Loesch. “I can’t wait to experience the culture, the people, the country and to experience this with my teammates. I can’t wait.”

Sinn said a summer trip like this helps a team get closer. 

“As their coach, I'm excited to have them experience this together as a team.," Sinn said. "This experience is something this group will have to draw upon for many years to come and provide memories to last a lifetime. What an opportunity and one that won’t be taken for granted. They get a chance to visit the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, to see the Italian countryside, to visit ancient sites like the Coliseum and make real Michelangelo, Dante and others we’ve read about is something everyone is looking forward to. The richness of the history of Italy is amazing, and our team will feel it up front and personal. I can’t wait for all the conversations, the dinners and the time we will spend together seeing Italy together as a team.”

The Tommies are allowed a few summer practice sessions on the court to prepare for the games. They came back into the gym last Friday. By NCAA rules, only returning players and no recruits can make the trip.

St. Thomas Women’s Basketball Italy Trip

Aug. 22-30

Mon. Aug. 22: Depart for Chicago; fly on to Rome

Tues. Aug. 23: Arrive in Rome; Meet with English speaking tour guide and continue on to the scenic region of Umbria for some sight-seeing; continue onto the city of Norcia, which is located at the foot of the Sibylline Mountains; Team will then check into the hotel and get some rest; first game to be played that evening at the Bianconi Sporting Center and followed by a welcoming dinner.

Wed. Aug. 24: Team will take a walking tour through Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict; Viewing of sites surrounding Piazza San Benedetto, including the 14th-century church; Tour Castellina, the papal palace; second basketball game to be played that evening.

Thurs. Aug. 25: Depart to Florence; Team will be given a private walking tour of this famous Renaissance city; Sites include Brunelleschi’s Duomo, the Baptistery, Giotto’s Bell Tower, Signoria Square, and the Santa Croce area with it’s famous market and the Ponte Vecchino which dates to the 10th century; The team will then travel to Montecatini, an Italian spa resort area noted for its thermal springs and healing waters; Check in and dinner at the Michelangelo Hotel.

Fri. Aug. 26: Group to have walking tour of Montecatini and will visit one of its most famous spas, the Terme Tettuccio; depart for Lucca in the afternoon; Free time to explore the shops and cafes of Lucca; Group will then visit a typical Tuscan farm in the nearby hills of Il Poggio; return to Montecantini for dinner.

Sat. Aug. 27: Depart for Cinque Terre, located on the Italian Coast; the area is made of up five villages clinging to the cliffs along the Lingurian Coast; Monterosso boasts of having the largest beach; the village of Corniglia is located high above the sea amid vineyards; the third and final game of the trip is scheduled for this evening; late return to Montecantini for dinner.

Sun. Aug. 28: Early departure for Rome; Sightseeing to include the Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and more; Check into hotel and have dinner.

Mon. Aug. 29: Continued exploration of Rome includes Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica; Entire day is set aside for sightseeing; farewell dinner is set for the evening.

Tue. Aug. 30: Morning transfer to airport for return to U.S.; arrive and depart from Chicago to Minneapolis.

 

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