BEVERLY, Mass. – Endicott women's basketball rising juniors Gabriella Coppola (Watertown, Mass.) and Hannah Kiernan (Wenham, Mass.) and rising senior Sarah Hood (Burlington, Mass.) recently traveled to Costa Rica for a service-learning trip through the Beyond Sports program.
While in Costa Rica, the trio immersed themselves in the country's culture and played in three games as part of a team made up of student-athletes from all over the United States. Coppola, Hood, and Kiernan were able to compete against select members of the Costa Rican national team and other talented club teams, while also serving as instructors for several youth basketball learning clinics.
Beyond the obvious experiences that Coppola, Hood, and Kiernan enjoyed during their trip one theme stood out above the rest, and that was the connections made through the sport they love.
"What I liked most about this trip was that we were able to meet people from all parts of the country within our team and then we were able to use basketball to connect with the women from Costa Rica," said Coppola. "This sport that you play and love every day was able to break a language barrier, and that to me was really amazing."
Hood echoed Coppola's sentiments.
"Thanks to Beyond Sports, Gabby, Hannah, and I were able to connect with women from all over the United States and play the sport we love in the happiest country in the world. Throughout the trip, it was amazing to see how the sport of basketball could bring people together," said Hood. "Children from local cities traveled to attend clinics run by Beyond Sports and many others came to watch us play against Costa Rican teams. This trip was an eye opening experience far beyond basketball."
Meanwhile, Kiernan summed up the trip perfectly for the Gulls' trio.
"One of my favorite parts of my Beyond Sports experience was helping out with the youth basketball learning clinics. The groups of young boys and girls were so eager to learn from us, and seeing how excited they got when we came to play with them was priceless," said Kiernan. "Another highlight was getting to compete against some of the Costa Rican national team players and some of the very talented club teams. Although some of the rules differ in FIBA basketball, all of the Costa Rican players share the same passion for the game as the team from the U.S. does. We were able to win all three games while we were there so it was awesome to see how players from five different colleges could come together so successfully."
Coppola, Hood, and Kiernan were joined on the U.S. team by student-athletes from Arcadia, Holy Family, Gordon, Hobart, and William Smith. Alongside getting to know one another, playing and teaching basketball, all of the student-athletes were able to tour Costa Rica and learn the culture, travel to various beaches, take dance lessons, and participate in hiking and zip lining trips.
With their successful trip to Costa Rica now over, the trio will look forward to the 2016-17 academic year at Endicott.
The Beyond Sports program is an international education and service-learning organization that uses sports as a vehicle to explore the world and create meaningful cross-cultural relationships.