Over the holiday break, the University of Richmond baseball team will travel to Cuba and play four games against members of the Cuban Baseball Federation. With this historic trip, the Spiders will be the first team in the Atlantic 10 to compete in Cuba.
Departing for Havana on December 15th and returning on the 23rd, the Spiders will tour Cuba’s western provinces, concluding with games against teams from San Jose de las Lajas, Artemisa, Pinar del Rio, and Matanzas. Between games, the team will have the opportunity to experience Cuban history and culture through tours, lectures, and joint community service projects with local Cuban baseball players.
“You get to take an international trip once every four years as a team and especially with this young group, I think it’s a great opportunity to bond and be together away from Richmond,” said Richmond head coach Tracy Woodson.
“We looked at the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, but this opportunity emerged with Cuba and we wanted to be one of the first to go there and play its teams and experience that level of play. The University is excited about this tour and supported our efforts to make it happen and we are very appreciative. You add in the baseball talent in Cuba and maybe the next few big stars in the Major Leagues are down there and we may get to compete against those guys. To take this program to Cuba and be one of the only college baseball programs and be among the few American groups to travel there in the last 40 or 50 years and to let our student-athletes travel somewhere they may never get to go to again and learn about a country they don’t know a lot about is a very big deal.”
Current UR Professor in the Department of Latin American, Latino and Iberian Studies, Dr. Dixon Abreu, a former professional baseball player himself, will accompany the Spiders on the trip from the University, and serve as a de facto guide, historian, and interpreter for the team. He will help the team navigate the cultural, political and sporting elements of the nation.
Before the team departs for Cuba, the squad will work with Dr. Jennifer Pribble, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University. Dr. Pribble, who specializes in Latin America politics, will set the stage for what the traveling party will encounter with respect to Cuba’s political past as well as detail the recent changes in Cuba over the last few years. Following the nine day trip, the team will again join Dr. Pribble for a debriefing about Cuba’s current climate and conditions that the party will have both witnessed and experienced.
For next semester, the team is working with the University of Richmond’s Bonner Center for Civic Engagement to offer baseball clinics for the local Hispanic community, pending practice schedules and weather early in 2016.
Following its Cuban tour and Winter Break, Richmond begins the 2016 playing season a tournament hosted by UNC Wilmington, starting with a game against St. John’s on Friday, February 19th at noon. The 28-game home schedule at Pitt Field starts the following Friday, February 26th versus St. Peter’s.