While the rest of the student body embarks on the first week of classes, the University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team will be immersed in a different – but no less impactful – educational experience.
On Monday the Cascades departed for Chandigarh, India, where UFV has had a campus since 2006. The 14-day trip, organized in conjunction with UFV International, will see head coach Al Tuchscherer’s squad participate in a variety of basketball and cultural experiences before returning home Sept. 8.
Follow the Cascades’ journey at GoCascades.ca/WBBIndiatrip, which will be updated regularly with blog posts, photos, and social media highlights.
“Trips like this are really important to create a great student-athlete experience,” Tuchscherer said. “As you go through university, you should be opening your mind to different ideas and working towards a greater understanding of the world. I think this is a great way to promote that.
“I love doing these trips, using basketball as a vehicle to show our athletes how things are in other parts of the world – to see different cultures, to see a different way of life.”
Tuchscherer’s program has a history of international travel – previous editions of the Cascades women’s basketball team visited China in 2004, and Antigua in 2011.
Choosing India as their next destination made sense in light of UFV’s strong ties to the nation via the Chandigarh campus.
In terms of basketball, a significant portion of the Cascades’ itinerary will be devoted to helping them grow together as a team in advance of the upcoming Canada West season. They’ll hold a training camp, and participate in a series of scrimmages against local teams.
But beyond any benefits for the team itself, Tuchscherer and the Cascades are excited about the possibility of helping to grow the game in India.
To that end, they’ll host two single-day basketball camps for girls.
“In the big picture, basketball in India is a growing sport,” Tuchscherer said, noting the NBA’s increasing involvement. “The women’s game is probably not as advanced as the men’s game, and I’m excited to go over there and see what the basketball’s like and share ideas with the coaches over there who have helped organize this trip.”
The journey will also feature rich cultural experiences, including events on the UFV Chandigarh campus, and tours of local landmarks like the Golden Temple and the Rock Garden of Chandigarh.
“I think we’re all excited to experience a new culture – something so different from our own experience,” said Jessica Zawada, Cascades fourth-year forward. “That’s mostly what we’re looking forward to – not just playing basketball in another country, but trying different food and experiencing the way that people live.
“I think it’ll definitely bring us closer together as a team. We’ve trained a lot together this summer, so it already feels like we’re a tight-knit group. But when you’re with the same group of people for so many hours and days on end, you learn to work together on a new level.”