Women's Basketball in Europe: Day 8

Friday, August 23, 2013

So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, adieu ... the Muhlenberg women’s basketball team files the final report from its trip to Europe.

Day 8 - by Hannah Rush
riding through mine On our last touring day of the trip started with a team bonding activity – exploring underground caves. The current players, along with the alumni who made the trip with us (Kate Clawson, Julie Kelly, Kim Mui and Alita Zabrecky) descended 163 stairs to get to these caves. Though called caves by the locals, it is not an accurate description. These were more like old coal or gold mines, with narrow mine shafts winding their way underground.

First we watched a video about how part of the cave walls are taken out and used as building materials. After that we split into two teams and set off exploring on bikes. The ceilings are very low at some points so the taller players on the team were having a lot of problems not hitting their head while both walking and biking. (Being the shortest on the team, I did not find this to be as much of a struggle.)

The cave system is very confusing, with little to no light in most sections, so it is easy to get lost. One person from each group was assigned to make sure the entire group stayed ahead of them and did not make a wrong turn or fall behind. I offered to be the last one in my group but soon realized how hard it was to keep everyone together in the maze of tunnels when another teammate and I got separated from our group. We were instructed to stop immediately if this happened, so that the tour could back-track through the darkness to find us – otherwise if you took a wrong turn it would be difficult to find you.

underground chapel Halfway through our 9-kilometer ride, we stopped to view a chapel that was created down in the caves. Here there were pictures on the wall created with charcoal. Since the caves are constantly in 95% humidity, it is very difficult to create color pictures but one painter did figure out how to do this for the only colored art in the chapel. In another part of the chapel there were signatures of men from Canada and the United States who took shelter there during the fighting in World War II. The tour ended with our tired legs having to climb those 163 stairs back to the surface

After a quick break at the hotel (including time on the hotel wifi) we headed to Brussels, which was about an hour-and-a-half ride. Here we first visited the Atomion (“the symbol of Brussels”) and took a few photos. Next we explored the city of Brussels and got a few hours to walk to that make sure we tasted their famous, and more importantly, delicious waffles.

game vs. Boom Kangaroos After getting dinner we played our third and final game against the Boom Kangaroos. Everyone told us that Boom would be the most talented team we played on our tour, and that they had lost the Belgian championship last year by one point. Coach Rohn compared them to a very strong Division I team, so we knew we had our work cut out for us. I think we surprised many fans and Belgian coaches at the game by staying within 10 points of this strong team for the majority of the game.

We continued to improve as a team throughout the games and it made all of us excited for the upcoming season. The first team we played while in Europe (BCC Schelle) came to cheer us on and even wore the t-shirts that we game them as gifts.

Finally, we headed back to the hotel for the last time where we hoped to get as much sleep as possible before our 5:30 a.m. departure for the airport. Luckily on this trip we got to celebrate Coach Rohn’s 25th anniversary with his wife! It was great that he got to celebrate this occasion with his family on our wonderful trip to Europe!