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In Spain, Team Gets New Worldview on Basketball, Teamwork

Spain’s beautiful beaches, multi-peaked mountains and historic sites are not the only things the University of St. Thomas Women’s Basketball team conquered this August on a basketball tour abroad. The Celts learned a few new international rules to playing the game, and grew even closer through the sweat, laughter and adventures they shared around Barcelona, Spain. 

This was the team’s first overseas trip, and the coach Jae Cross saw this as a weeklong opportunity to teach, learn and build a solid foundation.

“I am honored to have been part of this great opportunity,” Cross said. “I’ve played overseas a lot, and being able to experience how teams in other countries play the game is huge for our student athletes.” 

University of St. Thomas Celts Houston women's basketball team abroad in Barcelona

The women’s basketball team played three games against Division II and Division III professional teams, who consisted of high school and college aged girls and older women. According to Cross, student athletes learned new things individually and as a team after having this unique opportunity to encounter different styles of play.

“The European leagues are meshed, so it was not an amateur game,” Cross said. “The teams we played had professional players mixed with development players for that club. Many of them had played together for years and this was evident in their cohesiveness.”

University of St. Thomas Celts Houston women's basketball team abroad in Barcelona

Chante Jefferson, forward and junior early childhood education major, said this trip and the opportunity to play with another country’s different rules helped her ability to adapt and grow.

“You have to think smart and fast when you play basketball,” Jefferson said. “This trip gave us the opportunity to work on our team chemistry, and get a head start on both learning and implementing Coach Cross’s philosophies into our game. Playing overseas was an opportunity of a lifetime.”

According to Jefferson, a few different international rules include having to dribble the ball before taking any steps, a 24-second shot clock and wider rectangular paint on the court.

University of St. Thomas Celts Houston women's basketball team abroad in Barcelona

Students were also able to take in the sights, enhancing their team-building activities.

Ana Dominguez, forward, junior marketing major and finance minor, said the trip was filled with team-bonding experiences on and off the basketball court.

“My favorite adventures include visiting the Montserrat Monastery surrounded by mountains and breathtaking views of the country; hiking up the mountain to see a huge cross; and walking Les Ramblas, the most famous street in Barcelona filled with shops, restaurants and the Boqueria Market,” Dominguez said. “We bonded on a whole other level, got to play against good competition and the relationships we built showed on the court.”

The team also used their close proximity to the beach to have an energetic, early morning beach conditioning session.

“We went down to the beach at 8 a.m., which was 1 a.m. in the USA, and called it our ‘Midnight Madness’ practice,” Cross said. “The players were fully engaged, enthusiastic and got a good sweat.” 

According to Cross, this trip was a total success and strengthened the bond as a team.

“After many of the activities we endured, I know these ladies will work hard, work together and do what is necessary to get to the desired destination,” Cross said. “Being able to coach that determination is going to be a wonderful experience, and I am very excited for the future.”

By Deema Al-Rasheed

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