Thirty-two soccer players—16 from the men’s team and 16 from the women’s— and their coaches, Michael Smith and Gary Yohe, traveled to Europe over spring break to explore Spain and Italy’s soccer culture.
The group landed in Barcelona on Saturday, March 7 and hit the ground running. They explored local attractions like La Rambla Street, trained and played with local teams, and cheered on Futbol Club Barcelona at Camp Nou.
“It’s an experience that these kids will never forget. They’re going to remember seeing the best player in the world [Lionel Messi] scoring three goals in his stadium,” said Coach Smith.
After four days in Barcelona, the team traveled to Italy, where they explored Milan, Lake Como, and Venice. The Marian University teams competed against local teams and even got to train with an Italian professional coach.
While the students trained, played, and watched soccer while they were in Europe, it was the experience of exploring and being immersed in new and different cultures together that made the biggest impact.
“We took more away from the sightseeing and the cultural experiences. With so many of our students going to Europe for the first time, we made exploring the cities we visited a priority,” said Coach Yohe.
And explore they did. From Parc Guell, to Sagrada Familia, to St. Mark’s Square, the students and coaches learned the history and experienced the culture together.
Coach Smith noted that having both teams take the same trip really bonded them. In fact, the very next week, after the women’s and men’s teams were at each other’s games, cheering and supporting one another at St.Vincent Health Field.