It may be summer break, but the Oglethorpe Men’s Basketball team continues to sport the black and gold. The Stormy Petrels have taken their game on the international road to Costa Rica, mixing competition and culture in an overseas team-building experience. Head coach Philip Ponder, assistant coach Andrew Tulowitsky, and nine players from last season are spending seven nights in the country, competing in three international games and taking in some of the country’s famed cultural and educational excursions.
“This should be a great trip for our student-athletes,” said Coach Ponder. “The guys will have a chance to experience another culture while also playing some top-notch basketball games. Team building outings like this can really help with group chemistry.”
The team is set to tour the National Museum and Theater, visit the Supreme Court, go zip-lining, and take a whitewater rafting trip in the country’s tropical waters. In true Oglethorpe fashion, the guys also will spend time volunteering at a local shelter for disadvantaged youths.
Even after a long day of international travel, rising senior Andrew Steioff took time to report to the OU Blog from the road:
“My name is Andrew Steioff, a communication major from Duluth, Georgia and a member of the Oglethorpe basketball team which is embarking on a week long tour of the country of Costa Rica. Before the trip, my teammates and I were all anxious and excited to see what the trip had in store for us. Little did we know that our first day would end up being a little hectic.
We departed for the airport at 6 a.m. Monday morning. Needless to say, it was a little earlier than most of us were used to waking up, but our excitement had our whole team wide awake. That quickly changed, however, as the majority of us were already asleep on the plane before takeoff. The plane ride was quite turbulent and it was funny to see my fellow senior Tyler Cerone freaking out at every patch of turbulence we hit along the way. Shortly after touching down, we ran into a major speed bump when sophomore Alex Vital could not find his bag that he checked. Even worse, the bag contained his uniforms, shoes, change of clothes, and the majority of his spending money. After frantically searching for the bag, we came to the conclusion that a man named “Lester” had accidentally taken the wrong bag, since his was still at baggage claim. Accepting defeat for the moment, we called Lester to inform him of the mix up and continued to go check into our first hotel, the Barcelo San Jose Palacio, which is one of the nicest hotels most of us have ever stayed in. The view from our windows overlooks the whole city of San Jose.
We proceeded to have our welcome lunch with a selection of many of the native foods. We figured out quickly that we would be spoiled as far as meals went on this trip, considering our plates were overflowing with some of the best food many of us have ever had, along with the freshest fruit I have ever tasted. During lunch our tour company showed us a PowerPoint presentation, including many interesting facts about Costa Rica along with the itinerary for our trip. We then had some time to hang out in our rooms before dinner and our first game later that night. Dinner was not to be out done by lunch, continuing the trend of amazing meals, and as a team we devoured the selection of fresh veggies, fish, and according to Christian Molinet, the best chicken dish he had ever tasted.
The last thing on our schedule for the night was our first game against Escazu, a professional team that finished second in the top professional league in Costa Rica. Even after a whole day’s worth of international travel, we came out on fire against Escazu, hitting 12 three-pointers in the first half. Led by Brandon Jovaag and Sam Purdy, we raced out to a 49-31 lead at halftime. We more or less hit a wall in the second half as Escazu adapted to our pace coupled with the fact we only hit two three-pointers in the second half. We stayed strong as a team though hitting clutch free throws down the stretch along with key defensive stops to squeak out a win 74-71. Alec Pitts was voted MVP of the game by our opponent and awarded the trophy of a red Powerade.
Satisfied with our win, we were anxious to get back to the hotel and take advantage of some well deserved sleep, considering we had been going basically non-stop since 6 a.m. that morning. Next we have a city tour scheduled followed by a game against the team that finished first in the top Costa Rican league. We are all anxious for the sights and for the challenge of some top flight competition as we continue our trip.”