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The University of Colorado women's basketball team is touring Italy Aug. 12-21, visiting such destinations as Lake Como, Venice, Florence, and Rome. The Buffaloes will play four games over the 10 day span against teams comprised of professional players throughout Europe. Colorado student-athletes and staff will update daily on their trip of a lifetime.

Trip Photo Gallery

August 21, 2013

Hopefully you have enjoyed our team blog and feel like you have traveled with us on this amazing journey through Italy.  As I write my entry from 38,000 feet above western Europe, my heart and mind go to all the special moments we've had the opportunity to share with each other, our friends and family. 

Isn't this what college athletics should be about - the experiences that empower young women to develop into future leaders?  I believe experiences and great role models are essential to this development.  Take for example, our fearless leader Nikki Emms who we only met when we arrived at the London airport.  She didn't know it then, but she would become a Buff!  She was impressed when we showed her pictures of the Boulder campus and was surprised to hear that the Duane Physics Towers were modeled after the buildings in the medieval Tuscan town of San Gimignano. Who wouldn't be?! Her attention to detail, organization, communication skills, forward thinking, sense of humor, pride and passion for making our trip a once in a lifetime experience was priceless!  Our group admired her for her work and I heard freshman Desiree Harris say, “Maybe I want to be a tour guide.” In true form, she quickly dismissed this idea and thinks Des should stick to doing the "count off" on the bus and study to become a doctor.

My favorite times on any excursion isn't the expected, it's the unexpected.  You can plan all you want but life must, and will, include a certain sense of unplanned adventure.  While the Bellagio, St. Mark’s Square, the David, and the Roman Coliseum were all spectacular, it's the times in between that make all the difference. Now, don't get me wrong, stepping foot in the Sistine Chapel and saying a prayer in St. Peter's Basilica were things I will never forget because of all the history and tradition; but what made this trip special was hearing freshman Briana Watts and Bob Sievers encouraging each other as they made their way up several flights of stairs of the Roman Forum in the 90 degree heat after 2 hours of walking.  At one point, Bri, said with urgency, "where's Bob, I have to find Bob, we have to help each other." 

Or what about the proud look of accomplishment on our players face when they told me in Venice they explored their way back from St. Mark’s Square to our hotel.  We had heard numerous times that the best way to experience Venice is just to get lost.  But who wants to hear that!  It was a good 45 minute walk and at one point, Jen Reese demanded Coach Kelly put away her map, they were going to take the group back to the hotel!  And they did, no map needed.

As a coach, of course I relate many things to our team and am always thinking of how ideas and information can help us become stronger and more unified.  One story that I was amazed by was hearing that it took over 300 years to complete Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence.  Think about that...10 generations built one structure.  Leadership, ability to follow a plan without anybody doing their own thing, and hard work are characteristics that come to mind.  Somebody had a plan and then it was carried out.  I'm sure it wasn't as simple as that but sometimes it needs to be and we saw the beauty that resulted.

However, probably my favorite moment of this journey was our third game when we combined teams in order to increase the level of play and competition.  We had four Italians on our team, and at one point, one of them threw a ball out of bounds in transition.  Immediately, she looked at me somewhat dejected and without thinking, I did what I would do with our players in the same situation. I clapped and said, “It was a great idea and the right play.  You got it."  Who knows if she understood what I was saying but she knew my body language, smiled, shook her head up and down, forgot about it, and became determined to get it back on defense.  Perfect!  During this same game, it seemed every time I went to put in senior center Rachel Hargis, she was in deep conversation with another Italian player.  After hearing who she was replacing, Rachel would finish talking with her then enter the game! Seeing the smiles of the Italian players will be something I will never forget.

While I could go on for days, I will conclude here just by saying how thankful we are for this opportunity.  It was a trip that not one person will ever forget and we know we are better because of it.  Summer has concluded, school will start on Monday, and we are ready to have another great season.  Thanks to all of you Buff fans for following and sharing this journey with us. 

Ciao for now, Linda Lappe


August 20, 2013

Tracy, Lauren and Jerry Huggins

Judy, Haley, David and Hugh Smith

Marty and Alfred MacElwain

Bob & Nancy Sievers with
Linda Lappe & Jonas Chatteron

It’s true what they say: Time flies when you’re having fun!

It’s hard to believe it has been over a week since we began our tour of Italy. These have been nine days filled with amazing scenery, awesome exhibits and incredible works of art. We’ve taken a trip back in time - trying to imagine Ancient Rome with the Coliseum and Circus Maximus; the time of Michelangelo, Rafael, Leonardo and other Renaissance greats. The modern cities we visited often overwhelmed our ability to fully comprehend and appreciate the depth of the history we were experiencing.

As some of the “old folks” on the trip, we’ve had the opportunity to travel to many cities but some of us had never been to Italy. And while it has been an amazing trip, filled with incredible experiences, hopefully captured in the hundreds of pictures we’ve taken, it has only been enhanced by being part of the CU women’s basketball family. It is obvious that this tremendous opportunity has not been lost on any of the young women on the team.

It’s always fun to watch the expression of strangers as this group of beautiful, tall women walk through a crowd. And we were extremely proud of how these young ladies carried themselves. They were always excellent ambassadors for the University of Colorado and the women’s basketball program. They were polite, attentive and a real joy to be around.

But perhaps their greatest display of character came while playing their third Italian opponent. After one quarter, they mixed up the teams and played a game with members of both teams on each side. There was instant acceptance and an immediate desire of both the “new Black” team and the “new Gold” team to win the game. It’s funny how language doesn’t really matter when you’re playing the game you all love.

We were also deeply impressed with the quality of staff preparation and involvement throughout our experience. Having the athletic trainer, academic advisor, sports information director and video coordinator in addition to the coaching team truly helped showcase the deep support system our girls are receiving at CU to ensure they are successful on and off the court as our future leaders.

Our newcomers, the Smith’s (family of Haley Smith) are appreciative of the perfect introduction to the CU family! They said “As the family of a freshman, we loved seeing the girls bond and become a true sisterhood. From looking out for each other on tours to helping prep for their first game, we can tell this is a group who care for each other and their collective safety and success.”

Thank you coach Linda Lappe and the rest of the coaching staff for allowing us to share in this wonderful experience. Thank you Colorado for letting Italy experience the CU women’s basketball team. We’re all a little better because of it.

- Tracy & Jerry Huggins
- David, Judy & Hugh Smith
- Alfred & Marty MacElwain
- Bob & Nancy Sievers

Monday, Aug. 19

Ashley: The day finally came when we went back in time! Our visit to the Roman Coliseum took us back over 2,000 years to the most happening place in the Roman Empire. Yes, we walked the same grounds as the gladiators. One of the most impressive things about the Coliseum, outside of its beautiful architecture, was the fact that sea battles were once held inside. This monument was huge! Imagine fitting Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High inside of it. Pretty impressive site to say the least.
There are sections of the Coliseum that are no longer there because the Romans started to tear it down and use the material for weapons. How could you even think about destroying such an amazing structure? After seeing the Coliseum in person, I would’ve liked to have seen a gladiator fight or a sea battle in action. Maybe I’ll just have to settle for watching Russell Crowe in the movie “The Gladiator.”

Jasmine: After we saw the Coliseum we went on a tour of the Roman Forum. This was definitely in my top three favorite places we saw on this trip, if not my favorite. Unlike all the other awesome places we got to see, the Forum has not been fixed up or renovated. Everything there is ALL that is left from a couple thousand years ago in its exact position. Wow! Even though there’s maybe just a quarter left of the buildings dating 2,000 years, I was overwhelmed with the remains of the Forum. I absolutely love seeing these types of things! Heck, I’m starting to have second thoughts about my major. Buff fans just might see me on the news digging up the next archeological treasure!!

Aside from the sightseeing, this trip was a time for us not only to bond with each other but to get better on the court. We feel like each game we got progressively better; getting to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing our freshman the opportunity to get a feel of our Colorado style of play, and working through adversity we were faced with a different set of rules and the language barriers overseas.

(Both): Game three on Monday was unique. We played the first 10-minute quarter normal, taking a 20-7 advantage. The final three quarters we reset the score and mixed up the teams, and even the coaching staff. Coaches Linda Lappe and Kelly Ray Finley stayed with the gold team while coaches Jonas Chatterton and LaTonya Watson helped out the Italian team’s coach on the other side. It ended up being extremely competitive, with the black team winning 48-46 on a pair of free throws by Brittany Wilson with under 20 seconds left. This was a great way to end the series with the Italian teams (a fourth game Tuesday was cancelled).

This has been an AWESOME experience out here in Italy. We’ve seen things we’ve only dreamed of being able to see one day. We are so happy we got to share this experience as a team.

Jasmine Sborov and Ashley Wilson

Sunday, Aug. 18

Ciao Buff fans!

Today we had our last breakfast in Florence then began our 3-hour bus ride to the final city we will visit, Roma! Today was my day to brief the group on Italy’s great capital city. I informed them about some interesting history of Rome and its people. For example, I told them some facts about Rome’s main attractions, noting that about 700,000 Euros, Europe’s primary currency, get thrown into the Trevi fountain each year. Our team’s favorite fact was that the first shopping mall in history was built in Rome under the rule of Emperor Trajan. As you’ve seen earlier in the blog, we love to shop!

Everyone was very excited to go to Rome because we were all finally going to see the famous city that most of us had only seen in movies like When in Rome, The Lizzie McGuire Movie, and Angels and Demons. After we woke up from napping on the bus ride from Florence to Rome, we arrived at the hotel and began preparation for the game.

We arrived at the venue and immediately noticed one thing...air conditioning! Just kidding. Though that was nice, it was a great arena and where we would find our rhythm. Today we walked on the court with a new confidence and cohesiveness. I attribute these qualities to the trip because we have been spending a lot of time together getting to know one another on and off the court! Getting to spend the last week with my teammates and coaches has proved to be such a great experience. Click here for the game story.

After the game and a quick outfit change, we rushed over to the Fontana di Trevi! This was my favorite thing we’ve seen so far, besides George Clooney’s house of course, because it was so beautiful and there are so many tales that surround it. Throw in 2 coins and you might just find true love! Needless to say, we threw a lot of coins! While a few of us walked around Rome, Coach Jonas, Coach Lappe, and our academic advisor Chris Howlett took a taxi leaving the Pantheon in an attempt to find a way into an Italian futbol match. Even though they were unsuccessful, it was a great experience and it has been added to all of their “bucket” lists!

Buff fans, this is Coach Jonas, what a fantastic experience this has been for our team. You can’t re-create an experience like this; our team has really grown individually and collectively. To spend time together and learn the culture of a different country has made our team really bond. On the court, we played very well today and are showing signs of really improving and having a fantastic team this season.

This is our final city and we are all so excited to explore the coliseum and play our third game tomorrow!

Zoe Beard-Fails and Coach Jonas Chatterton

Saturday, Aug. 17


Today can be described by one word: Shopping! We got an entire day to spend in Florence, which is filled with markets and street vendors selling items from all over Italy. You can buy real Italian leather, Morano glass rings, and scarves. We spent a majority of the day haggling with store owners and finding the best deals on souvenirs and presents for our families and friends.

When we weren’t shopping, we got a chance to see a lot of the historic parts of the city. We started our day with a two hour walking tour including the Basilica di Santa Maria del Flore, the third largest catholic church in the world, as well as the medieval squares still present in the city. It was so cool to get to see the older parts of the city as well as the other main tourist attractions. We came across a bronze boar statue near the main square that brings good luck when you rub its snout, so of course we had to try it out! Hopefully it will help to bring us luck for the rest of the games this trip.

And of course, one of the main attractions in Italy is the food. Florence is no exception to this, and we tried new foods and some excellent coffee. We had cappuccinos, pesto pasta, and delicious sandwiches. All of the food here is so authentic and filling, and it’s so hard to finish a full plate. And to top it off, we tried all different flavors of gelato, and all of the types pastries that Italy has to offer. Florence is a city with lots to offer, and we got a chance to experience all of the different parts of it.
In honor of our last day here, Arrivederci Florence!

Jamee Swan and Haley Smith

Friday, Aug. 16

This morning started with an early breakfast, quickly followed by check out and a trip on the “People Mover” (aka the metro) back to our bus on the outskirts of Venice to make the trip to Florence. When we got on the bus Bri gave us a quick brief on the city of Florence so that we knew a little about it going in…it was GREAT!!!!!!!!

It was about a 3-hour bus ride to Florence where we got a little sleep. We finally made it to the hotel and immediately walk to see Duomo (the Dome) which is the 3rd biggest Catholic church in the world. It was absolutely beautiful! It was made of different types of marble with extensive details of different Popes and depictions of Jesus and the disciples.

After that we were given time to look around and shop, of course we took advantage of that to look for things that we liked. When we were done shopping we all met up and went to eat before our game. We had a quick meal with three courses of pasta, chicken and potatoes, and fruit. Then we took a short break at the hotel before we headed to our game at 7 p.m.

When we got to the gym we realized it did not have air-conditioning!! We had a great warm up and got a good sweat going. We played 10 minute quarters which was new for us, but we got used to it. It was different playing an international team because they had many different rules than we are used to and we couldn’t understand what they or the refs were saying.

We played strong and got the W! The freshman all did great and fit right in with everyone else! For me (Rachel) it was great to be back on the court after my knee injury! Following the game Nikki our tour guide got us pizza for the bus ride back to the hotel. We made it back, got a quick shower, and are off again to explore before our curfew! So far Florence has been amazing, just like everything else here.

Rachel Hargis and Bri Watts

Thursday, Aug. 15

Ciao Buff Fans,

We started the day off with a nice morning run. After meeting up in front of our hotel, coaches included, we headed out at a steady pace, jogging through the city. We encountered some strange looks as we weaved around the people walking down the street.  After we got all showered up and ready for the day Jas and Jen walked across the bridge to satisfy our daily intake of coffee!

We soon returned to the hotel to eat breakfast from the hotel buffet, and then we took a boat to St. Mark’s Square. On the way, we saw lots of boats and even a couple of gondolas, which were being steered by professional gondaliers; they even had striped shirts on, just like in the movies!

At St. Mark’s Square we met our tour guide, a quaint little man that was really knowledgeable about the history of the area. He showed us lots of significant sites like St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. As we were listening, pigeons flew all around us since that was the only place in the city where you can feed them. Soon we began weaving through the streets headed towards the Rialto Bridge. On the way, our faces lit up when we saw a familiar place: H & M!

Then we had free time on our own.

Desi: My group stayed in St. Mark’s Square and the surrounding area. We fed the pigeons, went shopping at H & M, and then searched for some food. Chris (Howlett, Academic Coordinator) said he remembered a pizza place from our earlier tour, but we couldn’t remember exactly where it was so we ended up wandering around for a couple of hours.

Jen: Our group found a nice little café where we ate lunch and enjoyed people watching. Unlike in the U.S., lunch and dinner take twice as long. They like to take their sweet time enjoying each other’s company while savoring the taste of each bite. After our lunch we tried to find a shopping area in St. Mark’s Square, but it ended up being further and more complicated than we thought. So we put the map away and mindlessly walked around Venice stopping in different shops that caught our eye. We originally planned to take the taxi back to the Papdopoli Hotel, but we got a little turned around and ended up walking 40 minutes back to the hotel.

Later in the evening we went to dinner as a team at a place in a local square near our hotel. We are excited to have our first game tomorrow, so it’s off to Florence!

Jen Reese & Desiree Harris.

Wednesday, Aug. 14

What’s up Buff Nation! Lauren Huggins and “B-Wil” (Brittany Wilson) here.

We started the day off with a 7:30 a.m. wake up call, and shortly after, boarded a ferry that took us around Lake Como and ultimately dropped us off in Bellagio. During our boat tour, we were able to see the different cities that lined the coast of the lake which consisted of beautifully architected buildings. George Clooney is one of the many celebrities who own one of these beautiful houses on the lake and Jamee Swan convinced herself that he waved to us from his front lawn.

When we arrived in Bellagio, we were able to split up and guide ourselves around the town, seeing shops, boutiques and even a church. We even crossed paths with some “familiar” faces as we saw the Florida State University women’s basketball team and the University of Nevada men’s basketball team touring the town as well.

We headed back across the lake on another ferry to catch the bus back to Como. There is where we experienced something quite exhilarating as our bus found itself at a dead stop; staring back at a van that was coming from the opposite direction, heading right toward us, on a skinny one-lane road. The situation, commonly known as “a standoff” lasted for a good 20 minutes which ended with our bus having to reverse to let cars through. As our bus finally began to pull forward on these very narrow lanes we came across several EXTREMELY close encounters with other cars, passing the oncoming cars by mere inches. Soon after we returned to Como, we loaded the bus and were on our way to our next destination: Verona.

When we arrived in Verona, the very first place we rushed off to see was the Wall of Juliet. This is the home of the famous balcony which Juliet from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet stood upon at night talking about her dearest Romeo. Right below the balcony, there is a statue of Juliet that is said to bring good luck if you touch it. Another spot in this tight corridor is a wall that is comprised completely of locks. A person is supposed to write their name and the name of their lover on the lock and secure it to the wall in order to “lock” the love between them into place.

We wandered around the rest of Verona stopping at a multitude of different shops including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Prada (only to look of course). We each were on our own for dinner, enjoying the local food from a variety of places.

As our journey in Verona was coming to an end, we stumbled upon a few actors dressed as Roman soldiers that were outside of the amphitheater in the middle of the plaza that were helping to promote a play that was about to be staged. We of course took the opportunity to have a little fun, pretending to fight these soldiers. (Ashley Wilson) definitely put up the best fight and conquered the silly Romans.

We’re headed off to Venice for a couple of days so stay tuned to hear about the crazy adventures and experiences that are soon to follow. GO BUFFS!

Lauren Huggins & Brittany Wilson

Tuesday, Aug. 13

Hi Mom!! Hi Dad!! Hi everyone!!!

Woohoo! We finally made it to Italy!

I can’t tell if I am tired or wide awake or maybe just running on pure excitement! I can’t believe that it has been a total of 17 hours since we left the Coors Events Center and landed in Milan. The flights were not bad at all. Some of us were hoping for an exit row in hope of better sleep, but we still managed without it.

When we landed in London, the mall was huge! I joke when I say mall because I really mean the airport but it seemed like a mall because it was filled with shopping stores. The only bad thing I could possibly say about it was that there weren’t any places to get food!

After our layover in London, we flew into Milan and sadly we did not get to stay there long. So far Italy is very beautiful and GREEN.

We got our bags from baggage claim and took a bus to our first destination, Lake Como (if y’all didn’t know, it is famous for being the place where George Clooney lives.)

Dinner in Lake Como was very different from an American dinner, to say the least. It was fish, upon fish, upon fish! Oh, and did I say FISH?! It was a three course meal served separately. First, they brought out fish salad (if that’s what it was called.) Next, they brought out pasta with calamari in it. And third they brought out a fish fillet. Don’t worry; since I am not a fish-eater, I was served steak, vegetables and risotto! Those were all very tasty! To end the night they served chocolate cake with pear in it as well as an espresso shot, for those who wanted it. All in all, dinner was great and I will be sleeping like a baby tonight!

I cannot wait to wake up tomorrow to see what adventures Italy will bring us! I am so blessed and grateful to have this opportunity afforded to me! I hope all of you Buff Fans are having a great we say out here in Italy, arrivederci!

Arielle Roberson

Monday, Aug. 12

The day is finally here! We are all so excited for this experience and to get to know each other a little better!

After our allotted 10 practices we are confident that this trip will allow us to continue to grow as a team and benefit us later on in the season. We are already working hard towards attaining our goals and creating a unique identity for this year’s team. One of our practices even ran longer than expected because Coach Lappe was having so much fun watching us play!

This trip is about more than just basketball though, it is an opportunity to see what other parts of the world have to offer, create new friendships, try new foods, and integrate into a whole new culture. Personally, I’m most excited for the authentic Italian food!

We will be travelling all throughout Italy over a span of 10 days, where we will have a total of four games and the rest of our time will be spent immersing in the rich culture and history of Italy. I must admit that a few of us are a little worried about going over seas for the first time in our lives! There’s motion sickness, different currency, an unfamiliar language, and quite possibly the largest dilemma: NO CELL PHONES!

We’re sure, regardless of all the uncertainty, that this opportunity will be one to remember. Once we step foot in the ancient coliseum of Rome, get a glance of the Bellagio, tour the Vatican, and visit the famous setting of Romeo and Juliet that all of our worries will disappear. We can’t wait to take all of you along with us on this exciting journey!

Lexy Kresl #1