Bronco Volleyball Prepares for Brazilian Trip
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - The Western Michigan volleyball team will embark on the trip of a lifetime this week, as the Broncos will travel to Brazil for the opportunity to face top-notch competition and experience a different culture.
This will be the second time the Broncos have traveled to Brazil for a foreign trip, with the first time coming in 2008. According to head coach Colleen Munson, that experience four years ago was profound enough that the decision to return was easy.
"After we returned Brazil in 2008, we saw how much we had grown as individuals and as a team," said Munson. "There was no doubt in our minds we were taking this current group of girls back to Brazil."
NCAA guidelines allow teams to take a foreign trip every four years, allowing student-athletes to take on international competition. The trips are beneficial for a number of reasons, with the first being a very practical one: teams are allowed an additional 10 days of true practice during the spring before the trip, and the chance to take on top club and semi-professional teams abroad will sharpen the team for the coming fall season.
"We are already seeing the benefit of having additional time to train as a team," said Munson. "We are able to practice without any distractions and the girls have and have made the commitment to take their game to another level as they prepare for our trip."
However, the intangible development of things like teamwork and communication, as well as the opportunity to immerse oneself in a foreign culture, also provide their own benefits.
"We will be in an environment that fosters growth and development as a team," said Munson. "The language barrier and the general lack of familiarity with the culture will require us to work together in order to accomplish many tasks. We expect to see a tremendous amount of growth individually from each of our players and collectively as a team."
The Broncos will depart on Wednesday, May 9, flying out of Detroit before landing in Rio de Janeiro and ultimately departing for Sao Paulo, arriving on Thursday morning. The Broncos will practice and have their first match on Thursday, before beginning a four-team round-robin tournament on Friday.
The tournament will feature club teams made up from 17-19-year-olds from throughout Brazil, all of whom play at their highest levels of competition. The tournament will conclude on Sunday, after which the Broncos will spend a day sightseeing in Sao Paulo before traveling back to Rio de Janeiro. The Broncos will spend two days there, playing two matches before departing.
The Broncos' trip will conclude with two days in Buzios, a resort town on the coast, giving the team the chance to relax before returning to the United States.