Aug. 5, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
Ashley Gayle fondly described Yvonne Anderson’s transformation process as a mere sacrifice for the good of the Texas Women’s Basketball team. Apparently, for the past few years, Anderson has been the little birdie in head coach Gail Goestenkors’ ear.
The summer before the 2008-09 basketball season, Anderson’s father, Mike, took his Missouri men’s basketball team on a European trip that featured equal parts competition and camaraderie. Anderson’s Tigers returned stateside and later finished that season in the NCAA Tournament’s elite round of eight.
“That trip should really be credited for the team’s success because it allowed them to focus on each other and what their goals should be,” said Yvonne Anderson, one of the Longhorns’ three senior captains. “They bonded and took that bond to the court with them.
“We felt with all the young players this would be a perfect year for this kind of trip.”
And with that, the Longhorns departed Austin on Friday for a 10-day European odyssey that includes stops in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria. For each of the Longhorns, this journey marks their first venture across the Atlantic Ocean.
UT is scheduled to play four games during the trip and faces Hradec Kralove (Aug. 8), Strakonice (Aug. 9) and Karlove Vary (Aug. 10) during a three-day span in Prague, Czech Republic. After a two-day break in Bratislava, Slovakia, the Longhorns take on Herzogenburg on Aug. 13 in Vienna, Austria. Games will be 40 minutes, structured in four, 10-minute quarters.
“To see how the other side of the world plays basketball should be pretty interesting,” Gayle said. “We’re basically getting to play games before anybody else, so this should be a bonding experience for us. With the freshmen we have on this team, it will be great to get that early on-court time.”
True to their competitive natures, the Longhorns are eager to get suited up in a game environment. Or, as sophomore Tiffany Moore explained, “We’re ready to kick some butt.”
But the Longhorns are just as enthusiastic about the trip’s off-the-court highlights, including visits to some of Europe’s most scenic and famous landmarks like the Prague Castle, Moser Glass Factory, Bratislava Castle, Schonbrunn Palace, Prater, The Hofburg and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
“So it’s really about two weeks of just hanging out, enjoying each other,” Anderson said.
Once the Longhorns touch down in Prague, international roaming rates will practically render cell phones useless. If money needs to be exchanged, the Longhorns only have each other to ask for help. If a menu needs to be translated, they will be each other’s travel dictionary.
“This is a wonderful opportunity, and a chance for us to really bond as a team,” Moore said. “It’s our time to explore, see different things and experience a culture other than ours. I’m glad we’re doing this a team.”