Leaving Italy

Friday, August 15, 2008

At this exact moment, 1pm here in Italy, 7am in the States, we are sitting in the airport waiting for our departure. The flight is delayed 4 hours due to bad weather. We got up at 5am to catch our flight scheduled for 10:30am departure. We have been in the airport now for 5 hours together and will hopefully leave in about an hour and a half. Surprisingly everyone is still talking to each other and actually having fun! We took over a whole section of the airport, with people sleeping, eating, playing cards, reading, walking, conversing and generally trying to keep their sanity. We hope to arrive in New York by 6pm...keep your fingers crossed!
Our last game was a victory 83-61 against another tough club team, Amici del Campetto. It was a beautiful complex, the best so far... despite the bathroom situation. The team had some players from the first team we played, including the 6'3 post player who was very physical. We started slow but probably played our best game of the trip. The defense was outstanding as we frustrated them with our full court press and transition game. We played with the energy and passion I was hoping we would garner from this trip. It was a great way to end our play here. I look forward to the new season back home!
We visited Lake Como on our final day here in Italy. It was a beautiful town nestled obviously around a lake. We had a boat tour on the lake and despite the fact that we could not hear our guide and her description of what we were seeing, we did see where George Clooney's villa was located (just the villa, no Gearge in sight!). We spent a leisurely day in Como with a stop in Bellagio. Everyone got in their last minute shopping at both stops. We had our last dinner together back at the hotel, packed and here we sit...waiting to come back home to everyone.
Hopefully we will see eveyone soon! Coach Spirk

The Journey Continues

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The past few days in Italy have been even more exciting than expected. We won our first Italian game on Monday and are hoping to play tough and get another win tonight! Although our trip is coming to an end and we are on our last stop to Lake Como, we are enthused about what adventures still await. Many pictures have been taken and I cannot wait to show them to everyone. Mom, how does Mexican sound on Friday when we return? Please no more Italian!! Cannot wait to see you guys.
Aly Bisci

Our trip is quickly coming to an end and many of us are ready to get back home to our families, air conditioners, ice cold drinks and cheeseburgers but we’ll be sad to see this once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the Italian countryside come to an end. We have created many memories that we’ll never forget like; our first victory, our team dinner with John Carlo at a “real” Italian restaurant and many more we can share when we get back in the states. Hope all is well, see you soon!!
Amanda Brown

As we make our way to our last location here in Italy, we are very excited to see what Lake Como has in store for us! Spending the last few days in the countryside was a nice contrast to the city of Rome; it is much more peaceful and the landscape views were absolutely breathtaking. Winning our first game the other night made the experience of playing in Italy even sweeter! We hope to grab another W tonight as well. I must say this trip has gone very quickly, but we have plenty of pictures, stories and experiences to tell you all about when we return. See you soon!
Lauren Fornazor

Italy has been an experience of a lifetime so far and I think there will be so much more to come as we travel to Lake Como. I have seen more amazing sites here than ever before. The food, culture, and the atmosphere have been so enjoyable. Unfortunately our trip is nearing the end and we will only be staying here for another two days. Time has gone by so fast and before we know it we will be flying back to the states. We cannot wait to share all our memories and pictures with everyone back home. Ciao!
Kate Harrison

We are on our way to our last destination, Como. The past couple days have been amazing. Tuscany was so breathtaking and I have taken so many pictures that I’ll show you mom when I get home. We won our first game on Monday night and hope to get another one tonight! Our wonderful experience in Italy is quickly coming to an end. These memories and experience I will always keep with me and I can’t wait to share them with everyone back at home. Como awaits us and we are all very excited to see what it is like and maybe we will even see George Clooney! Hope all is well! See you soon!
Kirsty Stearns

As we make our way to our last destination in Italy we are all very anxious to see what Lake Como is like. Tuscany was so beautiful and definitely my favorite place we have visited so far. I have taken tons of pictures and can’t wait to share them with everyone when I get home. Though I am looking forward to getting back to the states to drink ice cold water, eat my Mom’s home cooked food, sleep in my own bed, and see my family and friends I have made countless memories here that I will never forget!
Amy Heffner

I am writing this en route to Lake Como, and am very excited to see how it compares to the beautiful town of Montecatini. Although I enjoyed the city of Rome, I think the smaller countryside towns we have been visiting these last few days were much more to my liking. I am getting sick of all the Italian food, but I can’t really complain because it is very good. I am anxious to get home to see my family and friends, but will be sad to leave Italy. I have had an amazing experience so far and am so fortunate for the opportunity. I can’t wait to see my family and friends – miss you all.
Jennie Miller

Tuscany was just as amazing and beautiful as I imagined it to be, San Gimiano had to be my favorite place so far with its beautiful towers and its vast history. Although I did get pooped on by a pigeon, I am having an amazing time so far with my team mates and I’m sad that we are heading to the last place on our tour of Italy. We went to Florence yesterday and we got to see the beautiful David which was 16 feet tall, a lot taller than I expected. Browsing through the street markets of Florence was fun and I got a few things for my family which I can’t wait to show them back in the states. See everyone in three days!
Amie Ballo

I am very anxious to get to Lake Como I have heard very good things about it. Tuscany was a lot of fun and very beautiful. I really enjoyed the countryside and the little side shops. It has been a great experience so far and I’m sad that it is soon coming to an end. Being able to see the statue of David was a great opportunity and I think we were all actually a little surprised of how tall he was. But I do miss all my friends and some family and am excited to see everyone when I get home!
Emily Smith

I can’t wait to get to Lake Como, which is our last destination. Tuscany was amazing, and the scenery was so beautiful. We had so many tours through small towns and villages, and it was fun shopping in all the little stores. Our trip is winding down now, and we have our last game tonight, so hopefully we will pull out another win. Can’t wait to get home and see everyone!
Jess Foran

We are leaving Montacantini for Como with a fierce band of competitors. Emily Smith has both played the part and looks the part of a gladiator. A brutal push to the floor banged up one knee and a vicious elbow to the eye has earned her a thumbs up reputation by the descendants of the Roman Empire. They have given her the honorific name “ Erma, Hell Hound with Ombrella.” In our second game all of these young gladiators played a very tough, determined and poised game. Game time 8:30 tonight, we all can’t wait.
Coach Assistimomo Dano Tano

As our adventure continues, the sights become even more amazing. Yesterday, we were in Florence and saw the statue of David. The stature of David which was sculpted by the artist Michelangelo is a piece of art. The anatomy, in perfect detail, helps to show David’s strength, power, and attitude which is what our team portrayed as they played the day before against an Italian team. They played well together. It has been a great experience to see the growth of the team.
Lorrie Radcliff

It is hard to believe that our trip is nearing the end. The past 6 days have flown by, but at the same time it seems as if we have been here for a long time. I guess it is because we have seen, done, and grown as a team so much. At this exact moment we are traveling through the Italian country side watching the scenery change moment by moment, from the rolling hills of Tuscany to the foothills of the Alps in Northern Italy. It is truly breathtaking. We play our last game tonight and if we play like we played on Monday the Amici del Campetto Select team does not stand a chance. Our team played with so much passion I hope we can continue to do that come October. Well, that’s it for now, onto making a few more memories in our remaining time here in beautiful Italy.
Coach Endler

Ciao…Coach Mel here, giving you an Italian update. Yesterday (8/12) we toured the beautiful city of Florence or “Firenze” as they say it in Italian. We had the opportunity to see Michelangelo’s most famed sculpture the “David.” I think the “David” should be the team’s mascot, because it truly represents power, confidence, strength and no-fear mentality. . . . these are things the team displayed during our victory win! And hopefully we will display during tonight’s game against another Italian team. It has been very enjoyable to watch these young women experience these historical sites and to develop everlasting relationships. Basketball is not all about X’s and O’s. Go Hounds! We are currently on our way to the lovely Lake Como with its shimmering and deep blue waters. Lake Como is located 30 miles north of Milan and is known for its silk industry. Many fashion designers, such as Giorgio Armani, travel here to select silk patterns. In the 17th century, the wealthy vacationed here in their beautifully decorated villas, even today the wealthy vacation here. The team is hoping to see George Clooney (supposedly he has a villa here) and I think the coaches are too! Hope all is well in the states…

Coach Mel

We have arrived in our last stop in Lake Como. The Leonardo da Vinci Hotel is much more modern than our last 2 stops. We are relaxing till we get back on the bus to head to our final game here in Italy. It is about an hour ride from here, though after being on the bus for 4 hours, I hope we have some legs left for the game. I suspect that the team will be ready to roll though as the energy from their first victory here is fresh in their minds. We will be one short tonight as Emily Smith got hurt (she will be fine, as she heals well and in fact is trying to talk me into playing with a patch on her eye!), but I am positive everyone else will pick up in her absence. I loved the energy and passion we played with in both games. We need to continue to use our sight, hands and feet, as The David showed us in our tour yesterday.
The moments continue: Emily’s blood, Amy Heffner’s fitting in like she has been with us for a few years, Aly and Lauren knocking the Italians all over the court, Aimee’s pigeon episode, Jess fouling out (which the coaches loved!), Lorrie doing everything and anything for the team, Jennie getting her first start, Kate’s impersonations, Kirsty’s Italian belt, Amanda’s 3 straight 3’s, the 4 coaches posing in the Forum…you get the picture!
It has been terrific so far with a few more days to go… I am tired, but it is a good tired. We may have something special going here when we come back to the States! See everyone soon! Ciao!
Coach Iasiello (Spirk)

Greetings from Italy

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hello from Italy! Our trip has been amazing so far! Being my first time to Europe, there have been lots of new things to experience, and I couldn’t imagine doing it with a better group of friends! My favorite part so far here in Rome has been our trip to the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. The artwork seen in the Vatican and Sistine Chapel was absolutely incredible as well as the enormity of St. Peter’s Basilica. Playing basketball in Italy has been an experience in itself; abiding by different rules, although a challenge, was a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip and the great experience that still lies ahead! Until then, Ciao!

Ciao from Italy! Our experience in Italy has been incredible thus far. We have already seen so many amazing tourist sites in Rome in just a matter of three days. You have probably read that we visited the Colosseum yesterday, which happened to be one of my favorite spots. We also had our first basketball game and although we had a disappointing loss I think that our whole team would agree that everyone played really tough. Everything here had been so beautiful and we are now be traveling to Montecatini which I’m sure will be as gorgeous as Rome. We took a lot of pictures and can’t wait to be sharing our memories with everyone back at home. Hope everything is going well back in the states! Ciao!

Hi from Italy! Our trip so far has been an incredible experience! Aside from amazing Italy, I get to share it with a wonderful group of friends, coaches, and parents, but I must say I wish you were here Mom. We’ve seen so many neat places in Rome, especially the Vatican and the Colosseum. I’ve taken so many pictures so far and it’s only been three days! Playing basketball here has been a great experience and we still have two more games to go. The rules over here are a little different but we played tough and worked hard. Currently, we are traveling to a town called Orvieto and I’m sure it will be just as beautiful as I imagine. I’m looking forward to the rest of our trip, and can’t wait to share the wonderful experience and amazing memories. Miss you Mom! Ciao!
Hello to everyone back home! We have officially left Rome and are on our way to Montecatini. Rome was amazing after seeing the Vatican, Circus Maximus, St. Paul’s, the Colosseum and my personal favorite, the Roman Forum. It was awesome hearing about Ancient Rome and seeing what was left over. I miss my friends and family back home but I’m excited to move on to another part of this amazing experience. Our first game in Italy was a heartbreaking loss, but it was interesting to see how a team from another country who spoke another language interacted with each other and it was funny to see how we interacted with them. I’m looking forward to the beautiful countryside of Tuscany and eating more amazing pizza and gelato. I hope everyone doesn’t miss us too much.
Hello everyone back in the US. Our trip to Italy has been fantastic so far. I still can’t believe that we are actually here. Rome was amazing! I have been most impressed by how old everything is. St. Peter’s Basilica was my favorite so far. Today we travelled through the Italian countryside and the scenery was beautiful. The memories that we are making daily will last a lifetime. I look forward to seeing Florence and Lake Como in the days to come. I wish my family was here to share in the experience with me, but I will be eager to tell them all about it when I get back. However, being with good friends and the team has been just as enjoyable. That’s all for now, be sure to check in again for our,. updates. Ciao!
Coach Endler

Buongiorno! (that means good morning) We are on our way to San Gimignano…a small town in Tuscany otherwise known as the “Manhattan City.” San Gimignano was in its prime during the 12th and 13th century and had many towers which defined a skyline, somewhat like Manhattan’s skyscrapers. We are truly in the heart of ‘wine country.’ Simply beautiful! Last evening we had the opportunity to stroll through the streets of Montecatini while enjoying the small shops and cafes. This is my second time to Italy and I must say, it is an adventure with the team. I especially enjoy watching the Lady Greyhounds experience every moment…items of a lifetime.

Ciao….Coach Mel

What more could a history teacher ask for but to walk in the footsteps of the ancients. Antiquity seems to rise up through these cobblestoned roads into your very being. Visiting Rome has been a dream of mine since I was knee high to a grasshopper. It exceeded all expectations! The Sistine Chapel and Constantine’s Triumphal Arch were fascinating. The only drawback to the trip so far is my wife, Anita, constantly comparing me to the classical statues and saying she feels short changed.
If you are the company you keep then I am very honored to be included in such a grand troop of travelers – parents, players and coaches all. In every place we stayed and visited we were the antithesis of “The Ugly American.” As we leave San Gimignano I am reminded of that very apropos axiom – EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY TO BE A HOUND. One final note, I have been inspired to Romanize my name as follows.
Arrervedirchi Coachio Assistamomo Dano Tanno

Ciao from 4000 miles away!! Over the last few days, we have travelled back into time to see where the Romans lived. The Colosseum was a grand sight to see especially now that the Olympics are going on. It is interesting to see how civilization has developed over time. It is absolutely amazing! Our adventure continued yesterday traveling through the scenery of Tuscany. It is very green and peaceful. We stop in a small medieval town of Orvieto. We traveled on a funiculare (ski lift) to the top. It was a very quaint town. Our next adventure took us to the Montecantini which is where we will be staying for the next 3 days. This morning Coach Spirk, Mel, Rachel (Amanda Brown’s sister) and I went for a run. Mel and Rachel ran together and Coach Spirk and I ran together. Let just say that we took a scenic tour of the town. We saw much of the town and our run ended up being a little longer than expected. It has been a great memorable trip. Until later ~Lorrie

We range in age from 81 to 18, 35 in all, so you can imagine how everyone wants to do different things! I am a bit surprised though how well it is going so far. Our tour guide, GianCarlo, is terrific. He is a very patient man. You have read about all the great places we have gone and it is amazing. I think for me, not only is it pure joy to watch the team grow right before my eyes, but also to share the trip with my 2 nieces and mother. When you hear the saying it is a small world, don’t believe it…it is huge with so much history and so much beauty. I have learned to live in the moment, because moments make a lifetime. I suspect the team will play with less jitters tonight and I suspect we will continue to mature, laugh and make moments. Ciao! Coach Spirk (although I think I may go with my Italian namesake for the trip, Iasiello…my Mom’s maiden name!!)


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Ciao. Hope all is well back in the states…everything is going well here in Italy. This has been an experience of a lifetime for me, it was my first time on an airplane and it was a bit overwhelming but so far it has been a wonderful price to pay. Today the group toured the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It was absolutely remarkable and it made me feel like a part of history. Tomorrow we are heading off to Montecatini. I am having a time of my life and it is extra special that I get to spend it with my teammates, coaches, and family. You’ll be hearing from us soon but for now arrivederci.

Hi All! This trip thus far has been one that I will remember forever. Not only am I with my teammates but also some of my best friends. Today was our first game and I must say we hustled our butts off. Basketball here is a little different than back in the states but we learned quickly the rules by which the Italians play. To my family… I must say I miss you. Hope all is well!

Hey everyone, Italy is amazing, but I have to say I miss home. We got to see so much in Rome in just our three days here. Our trip is off to a great start, and we can’t wait to go to Tuscany tomorrow and Lake Como later in the week. Our first game went pretty well especially with just learning their rules, and it is fun to see how they play over here. Well hope everything is going well back in the states!

Hey everybody. It is nice to be in Italy and it is a great experience with my new teammates. After playing our first game tonight, I am very excited for the upcoming season. As for Italy, I am excited for Montecatini. And Mom and Dad I miss you guys.

To my fellow Americans, this has been an amazing trip so far. Italy is such a beautiful place with amazing sites to see. Rome has been a lot of fun and the Colosseum was my favorite so far! Aside from just Italy, this has also been a great time with my team, family, and coaches. I can’t wait to go to Montecatini tomorrow and experience new things. Today, I bought an umbrella for five euros; I like it a lot.

Hi. Italy has been a great experience so far, and I have enjoyed all of the site seeing. Today was awesome seeing the Colosseum even though I forgot to charge my camera battery. Oops. Hopefully the rest of the trip has more great memories to come. To my family; I miss you all tons, and I can’t wait to see you.
Jennie Lobb Miller

More players experiences coming soon!!


Today we visited one of the most spiritual places in the world, Vatican City. First we visited the Vatican Museum or Musei Vaticani in Italiano. It had priceless works of art: tapestries, sculptures and paintings. Next up was the Sistine Chapel where it was awesome seeing the famous works by Michelangelo and other famous painters. It was interesting to hear the history behind the works. Despite the scorching temperatures of Rome, we made it to St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest Catholic Church in the world. Here we saw the tombs of past popes and the great altar which sits directly above the tomb of St. Peter. Afterwards we trekked, literally to the Piazza Del Popolo, The People’s Square by our fearless leader Giancarlo.
The evening was spent on our own exploring the great city of Rome. A few of us went to the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. We stayed for a few moments anxious to get Gelatos, which is amazing here. Tomorrow we go back in time to Ancient Rome to see the world famous Colosseum or Colosseo and the Roman forum. Afterwards we play our first game against Lombardy All Stars. We can’t wait to show our skills on the court and to play with new rules. Sunday we are leaving Rome to travel to Tuscany and we are excited to have a change of scenery. Check back in to see our results on the hardwood. Ciao!



Friday, August 8, 2008

Hey All, 08-07-08

Buongiorno from Roma. We just wanted to update you all and let you know that our flight went okay and the trip is on its way! Today we were lucky enough to see the Pantheon, which is the world’s largest concrete dome. Even when it rains the water drains. In addition, we saw the second largest Basilica in Rome; which is where St. Paul’s tomb is located. Capitol Hill, although under construction, was still a sight to see. We saw the Circus Maximus which is known for the infamous chariot races. The competition had seven laps which represented by the seven planets. After being up for almost 24 hours we decided to head back before our welcome dinner which was very delicious. We are looking forward to the trip to the Vatican. Hope all is well back in the states. Ciao!


Getting ready

Monday, August 4, 2008

We are 48 hours away from departure! The team had a few practices last week and we are ready to go. After 2 weeks of camp, I know that I am ready to see Italy. I am also anxious to see the team play against the club squads over there.
There will be 10 players ( Amie Ballo, Aly Bisci, Amanda Brown, Jess Foran, Lauren Fornazor, Kate Harrison, Amy Heffner, Jennie Miller, Emily Smith, Kirsty Stearns), 4 coaches (myself, Dan, Amy and Mel) , a trainer (Lorrie) and 20 friends and family making the trip. It will be quite an experience for everyone.
Please check in and follow us on our tour!
Ciao! Mary Beth (Coach Spirk)