The Lessons Continue For Bears In China
May 17, 2008
BEIJING, China -- Northern Colorado's women's volleyball team remained perfect on its China tour with its second win this morning.
But the lessons learned and the experiences gained by the program's players and coaches was worth much more than any victory.
The Bears played a group of players from Beijing's 101 Middle School, but don't let that name fool you. "Middle school" doesn't hold the same meaning in this part of the world as it does back in the United States, and the players Northern Colorado spent most of its time competing against this morning were around 17 years old.
So, not exactly NCAA-Division I caliber players, but, in this country, not too far off.
After warming up with a 25-11 victory in a game against a group of players aged 14-15, the Bears took on 101's top squad for a three-game match and emerged victorious 2-1 (15-25, 25-22, 29-19).
But then "winning" and "losing" took a backseat. In their place were "teamwork" and "communication."
All of the players -- young and old, American and Chinese -- mixed up across two courts in 101's gym and began to play. Some awkward moments soon followed, but that was to be expected. Within minutes, though, all the players were speaking the same language and performing at a level not expected from a group that was not of the same ilk.
In short, it was one of the finest moments of the trip so far. And exactly what Northern Colorado coach Lyndsey Benson envisioned more than a year ago when she and her assistant coaches began planning the trip to the Far East.
"We want them to have this cultural experience," Benson said prior to leaving for China, "because it's going to take them out of their comfort zone and allow them to grow up in more areas than what we could have accomplished on the court here in our own gym."
That goal has more than been reached on the trip. Whether it's been not having Qdoba queso burritos to fall back on for comfort food, bargaining for a bargain-basement deal at Silk Street or achieving volleyball success with a player with no knowledge of the English language, it's all been done by the Bears on this trip.
And the team's barely more than half way through is excursion.
"I saw communication out there, just not in the traditional sense," Northern Colorado assistant coach Tom Hunter said. "It was one of the coolest volleyball experiences I've ever had."