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Women’s basketball team takes a moment for a photo at Point du Hoc in Normandy, where American rangers landed during the World War II invasion.

Women’s basketball team goes global

July 23, 2013

For the sixth time since the late 1980s, coach Becky Martin’s women’s basketball team has immersed in French culture and scenery – and played the sport they love internationally.

It’s one of Martin’s goals for the women she coaches, “an educational experience they will cherish for a lifetime … competing internationally playing the game they love, exploring and gaining exposure to and appreciation for other cultures.”

The idea was born in the mid-1980s when Jacques Vernerey brought his team from the French Basketball Club to the states. They stayed in the dorms here on the Hill. Martin served as liaison during their stay, and they have been great friends ever since. Both Vernerey and Martin believe it is a valuable life experience for their teams, which play 2-3 games during the 10-12 days they are in France.

Martin schedules the trip every four years so that all of her players have a chance to travel to France during their years on the team. The women raise the funds so that every player can go. And because of Martin’s personal connection to the teams they play, they are invited guests and treated like family. Vernerey and his daughter, Allison, who just graduated from and played basketball for Duke, flew into the Normandy region to spend time with Martin and her team when they played two contests at the Douvres Club there.

This year, it was time for Emma Wingerd, an Honors Program junior majoring in Chemistry-Exercise Science, to go on what has become a hallmark of McDaniel’s women’s basketball program.

Wingerd shares her experience in her blog:  

“We are going to France.” We all said it. We told our friends, relatives, professors, and anybody else that would listen. We all said it since the day we decided to join the Green and Gold, but it finally became real when we all stepped into the airport on that June afternoon. “Now, we are going to France.”

We didn’t tour a different country each day. We got to feel, eat, and breathe France and indulge in it. And for 10 incredible days, indulge we did. We felt a Parisian rain. We ate enough baguettes, croissants, and Nutella for a lifetime. We smelled some of the most wonderful foods and perfumes that you could ever imagine.

As an extra added bonus for me, those six years spent studying French in high school and college finally paid off! I was nowhere near fluent, but nothing describes the sense of accomplishment of being able to order the exact sandwich you prefer, ask for more of the citrus-scented duck-shaped soaps, or read the team’s daily horoscopes in a magazine in the native language.
Forever, I will get to say I checked off on my list of life accomplishments:

  • Visit the Sacré-Coeur and Montmartre
  • Touch the center rock at the top of Mont St. Michel
  • Feel the sand on the beaches of Normandy
  • Play basketball overseas
  • Stand atop the Eiffel Tower
  • Admire the Mona Lisa
  • Light a candle in the Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Climb the Arc de Triomphe
  • Stroll the gardens at Versailles
  • Shop/dine on the Champs-Élysées
  • Skip rocks on the beach in Nice

There is a tradition on select Parisian bridges. Couples bind a lock to the bridge itself and throw the key into the Seine River to symbolize the bond that cannot be broken between loved ones. Our party may have been greater than two, but it still counts in our books. In Paris that afternoon, the McDaniel Women’s Basketball team started a new tradition, forever bonding together in friendship, love, and basketball. It wasn’t the most extravagant or exciting portion of our trip by a long shot, but it is a moment that I shared with my team and will treasure for the rest of my life.

Coach Martin was right all along. Going to France was the opportunity of a lifetime, not only for things on and left off this list, but because we got to experience every moment whether big or small with our teammates that have grown together to become a family. We’re no ordinary family; we are a Green Terror family, sharing our love for McDaniel College and the game of basketball.

On a bridge over the Seine River, women’s basketball team members Emillee Bosley, Alyssa March, Allie Eader, Nikki Piper, Codi McMaster, Angela Sacco, Steph Perez, Shelby Taylor, Rachael Rybak, Nikki Ostrow, Stephanie Fish, Lindsey Nichols, Brittney Davis, Emma Wingerd, Lauren Ballenger and Samantha Dowling.
On a bridge over the Seine River, women’s basketball team members Emillee Bosley, Alyssa March, Allie Eader, Nikki Piper, Codi McMaster, Angela Sacco, Steph Perez, Shelby Taylor, Rachael Rybak, Nikki Ostrow, Stephanie Fish, Lindsey Nichols, Brittney Davis, Emma Wingerd, Lauren Ballenger and Samantha Dowling.

 
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