Wheels Up: UChicago Athletics Abroad

Monday, February 20, 2017 - 10:30

For the past 20 years, international travel has been a distinguishing feature of UChicago Athletics. Every four years, each of UChicago’s DIII varsity teams has the opportunity to travel abroad. These trips serve the dual purpose of training and leisure, allowing players to practice their sport with teams around the world, while also taking in the sights. Since the men’s soccer team traveled to Scotland in 1997, UChicago teams have visited 23 countries across four continents. Most recently, swimming & diving went on a training trip to Puerto Rico; men’s and women’s tennis visited Spain, the Netherlands, and Germany; and men’s and women’s basketball traveled to New Zealand and Australia.

As a member of the Varsity Softball team, I’ll be traveling to Australia for ten days beginning the day after graduation! There, we will snorkel through the Great Barrier Reef, climb the Sydney Bridge, try our hand at surfing, hang out with some kangaroos and, of course, play a little softball. I am most looking forward to enjoying the incredible wildlife and dining with the Australian team we will play. Team fundraising— which includes working other UChicago sporting events and generous support from Athletics & Recreation and alumni— make this trip possible.

In talking to other athletes who have already been overseas with their teams, it is apparent that these once-in-a-lifetime trips are highlights of their UChicago experiences, and are cherished most as prime opportunities for team bonding, positive cultural exchange, and incredible sightseeing. First-year swimmer Sydney Grube loved her trip to Puerto Rico because it was a “great time for [them] to focus more on team dynamic.” One of her favorite moments was bonding as a team through paddle boarding and kayaking. Third-year soccer defender, Kaitlin Price, warmly recalls her trip:

“Going abroad with your best friends and playing the sport that you love is an incredible experience. During preseason, we have a pretty tight schedule and are always thinking about soccer, so Italy was a nice change of pace. We still had practices in the morning but then turned around and explored Florence, ate amazing food, and deepened our friendships with each other.”

I can’t wait to end my senior year on a high note and explore Australia with my team!