Twice in the past decade, the Transylvania men’s basketball team has traveled to Canada to play exhibition games.
This year, they opted for more southerly environs — as in sapphire-blue water and palm trees.
The team spent this past fall break on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas teaching basketball fundamentals to local youths, facing off against the Bahamas Select Team and squeezing in a little beach time.
“It was a great opportunity for us,” coach Brian Lane said. Besides getting to take a dip in the “bluest water you’ve ever seen,” going on an foreign trip earned them 10 extra days of practice they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten before the regular season kicks off Nov. 13 against archrival Centre. (The NCAA allows teams to compete outside the country every three years.)
Lane’s favorite photo from the Bahamas is of his players holding up a child for a dunk. It captures the spirit of last month’s trip — the joy they brought to the islanders while having fun themselves.
“The kids loved it,” Lane said. A lot of them returned to the outdoor court the next day to watch the Pioneers win the exhibition game; check out a recording of the action on Voices of Exuma by James Moss on Facebook.
Facilitated by Lexington-based bdG Sports, the trip was a community effort made possible through alumni support and local orthodontists White, Greer & Maggard, who donated 120 shirts to the youths participating in the two-hour basketball clinic. The Bahamas Basketball Federation and Bahamas Ministry of Tourism also came through with an assist.
The players, who already had experience working with youths through the summertime Brian Lane Basketball Camp, taught basics like dribbling, shooting and defensive drills at the Bahamas clinic. (There’s also talk of expanding the team’s involvement with local schoolchildren, possibly through clinics at parks, and supporting the kids back in the Bahamas with donations.)
“It was an amazing experience,” sophomore point guard Dakota Capps said of the trip. For one thing, it gave the team a sense of gratitude for the resources they have access to in Lexington (like numerous coaches and a nice basketball facility). “It definitely opened my eyes,” said Capps, who hadn’t ever traveled outside the U.S.
The trip also reinforced the team’s chemistry. “A lot of times we’re with our guys and it’s just straight basketball, so that vacation was a good way for us to interact with each other and really get to learn more about each other,” he continued.
Plus, Capps pointed out the impact they had on the Bahamas youths. “Being able to put a smile on kids’ faces, being able to teach them about something you love really makes a difference.”
Top photo: bdG Sports