Men’s basketball team travels to Costa Rica, defeats two national teams


Sports Editor

Cultural and tropical, Costa Rica is known for its “pura vida” lifestyle of optimistic attitude.

Right before the school year began, the St. Edward’s University men’s basketball team traveled to San Jose, Costa Rica from Aug. 14-21 to compete in the 2015 Costa Rica Summer Tour.

The NCAA allows teams to make one foreign trip every four years. This was the first year that the St. Edward’s men’s basketball team had traveled abroad. In conjunction with the Basketball Travelers Inc., basketball Head Coach Andre Cook started planning this trip over a year-and-a-half ago.

The Hilltoppers were victorious in both of their games with a 68-57 win against the Costa Rica Invitational team followed by a 52-35 win against the Costa Rican National team.

As the St. Edward’s freshmen were making an intense debut alongside the veterans, it became clear that there would be many factors that would lead to the low scoring games, as well as a growing experience.

“The lane was wider and the three point line is back more, but the physicality was the biggest difference,” sophomore point guard Sean Watkins said.

There were also differences with the shot clock and substitution rules.

“It’s a little weird when the other team speaks a different language. The terminology is different and you have no idea what they’re doing, or what the refs are saying either,” sophomore guard Aubrie King said. “We also used a different kind of basketball. It’s the same size, it’s called a FIBA ball and has more laces on it.”

Cook says this trip ties into the mission of St. Edward’s.

“Part of St. Edward’s is service. We wanted to make sure that we weren’t just going there to play basketball,” Cook said.

One of the trip’s service projects included a visit to the Asociación Obras del Espíritu Santo orphanage overseen by Rev. Sergio Valverde.

“For these little kids, the fact that these athletes took the time out of their schedule to come and see them and to play with them was really affirming,” Director of Campus Ministry the Rev. Peter Walsh said. He also recalled when “one of the basketball players said in one of the debriefs ‘they treated us like superheroes.’ [The interaction] spoke really well about where our values are as a university and as an athletic program.”

On the Sunday morning of the trip, Walsh held mass for the team at their hotel, then they hosted their basketball clinic for over 50 children at the Banco Nacional Arena. Afterwards, the team suited up for their second game of the series.

“We did a couple of our drills for the kids, interacted with a lot of them. They were really excited to see us,” Watkins said about the clinic.

Travel wise, the team also had a tour of the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, stood on a volcano, visited a coffee plantation and went hiking and zip lining along the rainforest canopies.

“From a basketball standpoint, we’re still trying to figure out who’s going to be in our rotation, and clearly this trip helped for some of that,” Cook said.

Referring to last season’s close loss at the conference championship, Cook added, “The culture for our basketball program is really good right now … They want to take that next step and win the championship, not just get to the championship.”