BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University women’s basketball team is about to make history, becoming the first women’s college basketball team to visit and play games in Cuba when it makes an 11-day trip to that country this August.
Bowling Green coach Jennifer Roos is particularly excited about the opportunity for her program to tour that island country at this particular time.
“With President Obama working with that country, it’s a different time [in Cuba],” she said. “That makes this a great educational opportunity for our team.
“We’ll be able to do some community service there besides playing. And it will give our kids a great perspective, being in another country and in effect being in another era — they’ll be brought back to the 1950s and ’60s.”
The Falcons will travel to Tampa on Aug. 8, then fly to the Cuban capital of Havana the next day.
Before returning to BG on Aug. 18, the team will play three games against local teams in Havana before traveling to Varadero, a resort peninsula roughly 140 kilometers east of Havana, near the end of the tour.
The Falcons lost two seniors from last year’s squad, which posted a 10-18 overall record and was 6-12 in Mid-American Conference play. The trip will afford the team, including its four incoming freshman, the opportunity to practice together 10 times before the trip begins.
But the extra practice and games are only part of the trip’s allure, according to Roos.
“We’ll have a chance to play some games, but that’s not all we’ll do,” she said. “We’ll do some community service, and we’ll have some time along the beach. And we’ll have a chance to tour — it will be a great educational opportunity for our kids.”
Besides the games, the Falcons will hold clinics for local schoolchildren, tour sites such as the U.S. Embassy and a cigar factory, and take salsa dance lessons.
Roos graduated from Davidson with a degree in history, so she is especially excited that the recent changes in diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will give her team a chance to experience history up close.
“I think it will be neat for this generation to learn what United States relations with Cuba have been — and what they are becoming now,” she said.
“And we’ll also get to experience Cuba’s relations with the rest of the world, as well as what Cuba hopes they will be.”
Contact John Wagner at: [email protected], 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.