Vanderbilt ready for Costa Rica

Aug. 4, 2017

By Zac Ellis

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Members of the Vanderbilt women’s basketball team have two priorities in the coming days: strap on their basketball shoes and gather their passports.

The Commodores hit the practice floor this week in preparation for the program’s first foreign trip in a decade. On Aug. 12, Vanderbilt will venture to Costa Rica on a seven-day excursion, one that features games against foreign competition in the University of Ottawa and Costa Rica NT.

The program’s foreign trip allows the Dores to lace up for 10 on-campus practices ahead of their adventure abroad.

“It’s nice to have these practices and get a head start on where we want to be as a team,” Vanderbilt head coach Stephanie White said. “And then to have a couple of games under our belt in Costa Rica, it’s going be great for all of us.”

Vanderbilt women’s hoops hasn’t embarked on a foreign tour since a 2007 trip to Spain. The program ventured to Europe on two other occasions: France and Italy in 1998 and Italy in 2002.

Along with a pair of on-court matchups, the Commodores plan to take part in a service project while in Costa Rica. The program has partnered with Soles4Souls, a Nashville nonprofit that fights poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. Soles4Souls has collected and distributed 30 million pairs of new shoes to those in need since 2006, providing aid to 127 countries and all 50 states in the United States.

Vanderbilt women’s basketball sponsored a Soles4Souls promotion during its game against Alabama last season. White said the upcoming trip to Costa Rica represents another chance for the Commodores to give back

“Soles4Souls has a distribution center in Costa Rica, and they’re going to accompany us on the trip,” White said. “We’re going to help distribute shoes to some local villages, and it will be a really rewarding experience. It’s a great opportunity to see a different culture.”

Meanwhile, the Commodores’ new roster hopes to use its trip to build team chemistry. Vanderbilt adds five new faces to its program in 2017-18: freshman guard Chelsie Hall, freshman forward Autumn Newby, freshman center Paige Warren, Purdue graduate transfer Bree Horrocks and Boston College transfer Mariella Fasoula. Fasoula must sit out this coming season to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements.

Senior guard Rachel Bell said the added size of Fasoula (6-5), Horrocks (6-5) and Warren (6-4) adds an element to this new-look Vanderbilt squad.

“Now that we’re all here, this is our first time being back together,” senior guard Rachel Bell said. “It will be fun to play with everyone for the first time, and we have height that we didn’t have before. It’s going to be fun to play together in Costa Rica.”

Added senior guard Myka Dancy: “Our trip to Costa Rica will help us get ahead of the game. Typically, we wait until later on in the fall to start our full practices. Now we have this opportunity to play full games against good competition. It just helps us start building that chemistry, see how each other play and incorporate each other into the system.”

Costa Rica will help the Commodores gel on the court, but White hopes to use a few extra activities to cultivate her team’s off-court chemistry, as well.

“We’re going to conquer some fears with zip-lining and whitewater rafting,” White said. “We will hopefully try a scavenger hunt so we can work on communication and problem-solving skills. Our staff is getting an opportunity to learn more about our team when it’s not in our normal settings. In Costa Rica, our players can surround themselves with teammates, as opposed to surrounding themselves with all the distractions at home. I’m really excited about the opportunity for us to grow as a unit on this trip.”


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