After nearly 24 hours of travel, the Maroons completed a trip of a lifetime. First and foremost we, the players, would like to thank everyone who was involved in making this trip a reality. The moment that we stepped off the plane in Queenstown, New Zealand we knew that we were in for the time of our lives, as even the runway of the airport provided movie-like views.
The weather in Queenstown was quite diverse, as we saw everything from snow to t-shirt weather, but no matter rain, snow or shine the Maroons couldn't be stopped. From driving ATVs through a mud-filled course, all the way to zip-lining through the snowy mountains, each day provided us with a new opportunity to do something that took many of us completely out of our comfort zones.
It was tough to leave the beautiful sights of Queenstown, but our bus ride to Christchurch quickly showed us that the rest of New Zealand was just as scenic. Fresh off a six-hour bus ride, we headed to a nearby high school to put on a basketball youth clinic. The clinic was a phenomenal experience, as we were able to not only teach, but also learn about the basketball culture in New Zealand. While the styles of play differed, it was clear that the one thing in basketball is universal: everyone loves dunks. The campers demanded a dunk contest towards the conclusion of camp. It didn't take long for the guys to ditch their travel legs, especially Eric Robinson who abruptly ended the dunk contest by literally bringing down the rim with a monster slam!
The next day we went on a beautiful hike through the city, right before making friends with the Christchurch basketball team over lunch, who we were scheduled to play just a few hours later. Unfortunately, no rims were broken during the game, but we were able to come away with a commanding 31-point victory.
With the game behind us, it was time to head to Australia. Our first stop was in a beach town known as Cairns. Our trip to Cairns was highlighted by encounters with kangaroos at the Cairns Zoo and snorkeling/scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, alongside a six-foot barracuda. As most of the team suspected, senior John Steinberg defaulted on his promise to box a kangaroo, which in hindsight was probably in the best interest of John's health. After posing for numerous selfies with all kinds of wildlife at the zoo, and a bumpy boat ride home from the Great Barrier Reef, it was time to head the last leg of our trip - Sydney.
We spent a lot of our time in Sydney soaking up the sights of the local beaches. We even learned how to surf - well at least some of us. Others, including myself, quickly learned that perhaps surfing wasn't our true calling. The sights and thrills of the beach were magnificent, but didn't quite compare to standing 131-meters high at the top the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Many guys were able to conquer their fears of heights and make the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge climb and take in a mouth-opening 360-degree view of the entire city.
As the trip came to a close, it was clear to all of us that we would remember every moment of the past 14 days for the rest of our lives. We grew as individuals and as a team by taking some of our biggest fears head on and stepping out of our comfort zones at every opportunity. We couldn't be more appreciative and thankful for the incredible experience. Go Maroons!
- Jordan Smith ('16)