The Mississippi State women's basketball team is going on an international tour of Belgium and France Aug. 4-14. Check back here daily for pictures; blogs from Kendra Grant, Jerica James and Martha Alwal; and a video blog from Savannah Carter.
Day 11 - August 14 (Jerica James)
It feels great to be back in the USA! This last blog entry comes from the Memphis airport, where we just landed. It felt great to see that Mississippi State bus and Mr. Joe (Jaudon) waiting there for us!
We flew out of Nice this morning, and it was kind of bittersweet, as we had to say goodbye to our tour guide, Annie, and our great bus driver Jos. Jos was with us the entire time. He didn’t talk much, but as we got to the airport he got on the microphone and told us how much he enjoyed being around us.
When we got to the airport we actually took a group picture with him before we unloaded. Telling Annie goodbye was hard as well. Over 10 days we really bonded with her. She said that she plans to come to Starkville to one of our games, so we can look forward to seeing them again and having all of our fans meet her and Julie.
I’m very happy to be home. I think we stayed away as long as we could, but it feels good be back home to what we’re used to.
We left Nice and flew an hour to Munich, Germany. We arrived there and actually had to bus to our terminal. By the time we got through customs we had to move pretty quickly to get to our flight to Newark.
We made it and got ready for an eight-hour flight across the ocean back to the United States. It was a long flight, and I don’t think I would have made it if we didn’t have movies on screens at our seats.
The neat thing about flying into Newark is you fly past the New York City skyline. Some of the girls on the team got to see the Statue of Liberty as we landed, but I had a seat in the middle section and couldn’t see anything.
The first thing we smelled when we got off the plane in New Jersey was the food. Then it was off through customs. We got our passports stamped but then had to go get our luggage and have it re-checked. Everything had been going smoothly on the trip until we got to baggage claim in New Jersey and were missing eight or nine bags. I was one of the lucky ones whose bag arrived.
It was great seeing all the American food we are used to and all of the people speaking English. By the time we re-checked bags and went through security, we only had time to grab a quick sandwich. I guess that first good meal back in the USA will have to wait until we get back to Starkville.
It is great to be back getting back to Starkville, but this has truly been a memorable experience for all of us on the team. I know this was a learning experience and to grow as a team, but it was so much more. I learned so much personally about the history of the places we went and everything we saw. This might be a once in a lifetime experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
We had so much fun on this trip, and I think people we encountered in Belgium and France will remember Mississippi State women’s basketball.
In an earlier blog I said the Eiffel Tower was my favorite part of the trip, but I think it might be the beach in Nice now. The water was great, and as a team we had so much fun swimming and playing around the last two days.
We have to thank our coaches and the administration for allowing us to go on this trip. We also have to thank all of you that have been supporting us and thinking of us the last 10 days.
This has been such a great way to start our senior years, and it is something I will always cherish.
Day 10 - August 13 (Martha Alwal)
Wow it’s hard to believe that we are wrapping up our last night in France. It’s been a long trip and I’m ready to go home, but it has been such an amazing experience this past week with my teammates.
I am so glad that our last two days on the trip have come in Nice. This is by far my favorite place we have gone because it is absolutely beautiful.
I love the Mediterranean Sea and the beaches. It is so beautiful here and I’ve been swimming the last two days.
It has actually been a very full last day. This morning we went on a bus tour of Nice, Monaco and Monte Carlo. When we left at 9 a.m. (3 a.m. in Mississippi) it was raining and absolutely miserable.
Our tour guide told us about the history of Nice and then we went up into the mountains and had these incredible views of houses on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. We saw one house on top of a hill that our tour guide said was Elton John’s home.
It seemed that we kept climbing higher and higher as we drove, and the next thing you know we were in this village and stopping at the Fragonard perfume factory. Our guide showed us how they make the perfume, and I learned that perfume in aluminum bottles stays fresher longer than perfume in glass. I was also amazed to learn the number of flowers they have to use to make one bottle of perfume. They also make soaps there, and a man was using a machine to cut out soap that looked like ducks. He worked by himself and made 2,000 soaps a day.
At the end of the tour we got to smell different perfumes and even buy some. I bought a scent called Belle Cherie that I am going to give my mom. She will really like it.
I have probably spent over 200 euros on souvenirs, and all of them have been for my family. I can’t believe I haven’t bought myself anything.
After we finished buying perfume we got back on the bus and headed to Monaco. The traffic going into Monaco was crazy. Our guide said most people drove there because it is so expensive to live there.
Monaco was absolutely beautiful. The town overlooked a harbor, and the yachts in the harbor were huge. It was interesting to me that the crime rate there is very, very low.
We actually parked the bus and went to the top of the mountain where the Prince of Monaco’s palace was. It was our first walking tour, and we were lucky because when we got up there the rain stopped. We saw the oceanography museum and where Princess Caroline lives, then to the cathedral where Grace Kelly got married and is buried. I didn’t know who Grace Kelly was, but I found out she was a movie actress who married the Prince of Monaco.
After leaving the cathedral we went to see the prince’s palace, and while we were there we got to see the changing of the guard. It was very cool and really precise. Some of us tried to do it, but we failed very badly.
I thought the prince might want to meet us, but he wasn’t there because the flag was not flying above the castle. Oh well, maybe next time! The view of Monaco and the harbor was absolutely gorgeous from up there. We had time before we left to look around and eat some lunch.
We left Monaco heading to the Monte Carlo Casino, and on the way our bus drove over the starting line of the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s amazing how those cars drive 200 mph or more on those streets.
The Monte Carlo Casino was really cool. We didn’t go inside, but standing outside and seeing all of the really nice sports cars was cool. There was a yellow one there that I wish I owned.
The tour was a lot of fun, but we were ready to get back to Nice and hit the beach. Coach (Johnnie) Harris, Coach Aqua (Franklin), Maryann (Baker), Savannah (Carter) YaYa (Smith) and myself were all set to go parasailing. Unfortunately, when we got there they wouldn’t let us go because it was too windy.
So Coach Harris and myself sat on the beach and watched the others as they went tubing behind a boat in the ocean. Coach Aqua had trouble getting out to the raft and getting on, which was really funny.
After tubing, YaYa, Savannah and myself met some other of our teammates and went swimming. Swimming took so much out of us that we got hungry. Our last meal in France was my favorite because we went to the Hard Rock Café. It was so good because it was the first American food I have had this trip.
I think prior to tonight I had lost five pounds because I hadn’t really been eating anything. I do like croissants. I know they have them back in the United States, but they are really good over here. I also tried crepes and really liked them as well.
After we ate we decided to walk around Nice. It’s such a great city and there were so many people out walking the streets. We had such a good time as a team, which has been one of the best things about this trip. As a team we have bonded and grown so much closer, and it will really help us when the season starts.
I am so ready to get back to the United States and be able to call my family and friends. The hardest thing for me on this trip has been being without a phone to call people the entire time.
The jet lag and food have also been difficult for me. My sleeping pattern has been thrown off the entire time, and I have not been able to adjust the food here although I am not a picky eater.
Although it’s been a tougher trip than I thought, it has been so much fun. I am so thankful to the coaches and our administration at MSU for allowing us to have this opportunity. It will definitely be a trip I will always remember.
Well, it’s off to pack my bags to head back to the United States! Talk to you later Bulldog fans!
Day 9 - August 12 (Kendra Grant)
Greeting Bulldog fans from the French Riviera and Nice! I know how you’re wanting to say it, but it’s actually pronounced Neece.
It has been quite the trip. It’s something I never thought I would have experienced, but it has been one of the best trips of my life. It’s hard to believe that we are in our final days here.
Tuesday we left Lyon and bussed about five hours to Nice. Lyon was another great historic city. Some of my teammates and myself actually got out and shopped a little bit. I bought some stuff from H&M, which is good because I don’t get to go there very often. I guess H&M is pretty popular with our team.
We got back to the hotel from our game around midnight, so a number of us stayed up pretty much all night. I maybe slept for an hour, so the whole bus ride to Nice was pretty much sleeping.
Our driver, Jos, was required to stop about halfway, so we pulled into a convenience store that also served pizza and a lot of pastries. It was not like the stores we have at home really.
After we got back on the road Mr. and Mrs. Ishee and Mr. and Mrs. Jones, two couples who joined us on the trip, decided to come up with French bingo for us to play. The way it worked was we each got a card and wrote down some of the sights we had seen as well as some French phrases we had learned.
We played four games, and JJ (Jerica James), Chinwe (Okorie), Martha (Alwal) and YaYa (Smith) won. When you won you had to go up front and say the names that got you bingo. They tried hard, but Chinwe was good at it since she can speak French. It really was a lot of fun and a good way to pass the final couple of hours until we arrived in Nice.
Some of us went back to sleep following bingo, and I heard some of the other players start to wake up. When I did I saw the view and the ocean off in the distance. Nice is actually on the Mediterranean Sea. Seeing all the boats and the water and the houses up on the mountains was absolutely beautiful.
We got to the hotel, Le Meridien, checked into our rooms and immediately went down to the beach. These beaches were definitely not what I expected. They were actually rocks instead of sand, which made it really hard to walk on. Although it was not easy to walk on, we made the best of it and had a lot of fun.
The beach was crazy. There is not much beach before you get to the water, and there was so many people out there that it was hard to get down to the water without stepping on someone.
We went out in the water, but I didn’t go too far because I’m not that good of a swimmer. The water was cold, but once you got in you kind of got used to it.
We swam for a while and then had to go get ready for our team dinner. We went right around the corner from our hotel to this great little restaurant, and the dinner was amazing. It was my second time to get lasagna, but this one was really good. The meal included dessert, so I had another first on this trip and got crème brule. It was really good because the crème under the crust was actually Toblerone chocolate.
After dinner some of the team went walking around. There are so many shops and restaurants. All of the places we have been have their unique differences, but they are alike in so many ways. The streets were crazy because there was so many people down there eating at the different restaurants and just having a good time.
I plan to get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow is going to be another great day. We are going to a perfume factory, something none of us have ever done. I’m excited to mix a couple things together and see what I get. We are also going to visit Monaco and Monte Carlo, which will be a great experience because of its rich history of cars and all.
Well, I hope you’re enjoying the blog, and be sure to keep checking back to read about the final days of our trip to France.
Day 8 - August 11 (Savannah Carter)
Hey Bulldog fans! This is Savannah Carter coming to you from Lyon, where we just wrapped up our fourth win of our trip to Europe!
I’m excited to be in Lyon, but I actually didn’t get to see it because I went to back to sleep after breakfast and woke up at 5 p.m. It wasn’t intentional, but I guess I was just that tired because it has been a hectic trip.
I hated that I slept so long because I really wanted to see Lyon. I heard from some of my teammates who went around the city that it is really neat. Behind our hotel is a very historic area and there is a big hill that has a beautiful cathedral on top.
Anyway, breakfast was really neat. It was on the eighth floor of our hotel, and Kendra (Grant), Kayla (Nevitt) and myself had a table overlooking the beautiful river right outside our hotel. We were acting fancy while we ate like we owned the world.
I had a crepe with Nutella and bananas, and it was so good. I also had a cantaloupe and a smoothie shot.
Our hotel here is awesome! I must say that the shower is the nicest I have ever seen. The showerhead is actually on the ceiling so the water comes straight down on you. It would be the shower that I would have in my dream house.
Since I woke up at 5 I didn’t have time to really do anything because we left for our last game at 5:45. I came down to the lobby and saw this other basketball team, so I thought it was another American team here to play.
I get on the bus and see a lot of my teammates sitting by others they don’t normally sit by, and Breanna (Richardson) told me the other team was riding with us. Who does that? I guess in Lyon you ride with each other. I’m just kidding. They were a lot of fun to get to know. We took pictures with them and just hung out.
After the game they stayed and danced with us, and when we got back to the hotel they got on the bus speaker and told us how honored they were to play us and how much fun they had on the bus with us. The ride back was crazy. We all listened to music and danced together.
It was great to end the tour with another win, but this one was even more special because the crowd was great! There were people standing all around because they couldn’t find a seat, and we were actually told they had to turn people away at the door!
Before the game we were out warming up and our tour guide Annie and Coach Schaefer’s son, Logan, got the crowd to do the Maroon-White cheer in French. They were really loud and into the game. They really liked LaKaris (Salter). She played a great game tonight, and when she came to the bench in the fourth quarter the fans started yelling MVP, MVP to her.
After the game we stayed and talked with the fans and took pictures and signed autographs. The fans at the Hump treat us great, but they know us. Here these people don’t and they are all coming up to us asking to take pictures with us. It was absolutely crazy in a good way. At one point I had so many people around me that I just started turning my head and looking at the different cameras. There’s no telling how many pictures we took.
I’m glad to have the games out of the way. I’m not saying I don’t like to play, but now we can relax and enjoy the rest of the trip. It’s been strange not practicing before we play because I really love practicing. I don’t know how many players say that, but I love to practice.
It’s been a great trip so far. I think one highlight has been dancing with our taxi driver on the way back to the hotel in Paris Sunday morning.
I have bought several “I Love Paris” T-shirts for my family, and I went to H&M and pretty much splurged in there. I also went to Ladurée, the famous dessert place in Paris, and bought a bunch of macarons. I got lemon, strawberry poppy, orange, orange blossom, chocolate, vanilla, raspberry and rose (which is like strawberries). All of them are my favorite! Mint and pistachio were the prettiest ones, but I don’t like either of those.
There have definitely been a couple of highlights on the trip so far. One was Sunday afternoon when myself, Ketara (Chapel) and LaKaris were coming back from the Champs-Élysées and we started dancing with our taxi driver.
The other had to be tonight after the game and being able to hang out with the great crowd.
I can’t wait to see what other memories are made when we head to Nice tomorrow. I’m guessing it will be an all-nighter for me because five hours on the bus being up would be hectic for me. In all seriousness, it will be great to be able to see the plage (that’s beach in French) in Nice. The beaches there are rocky instead of sandy like the ones back home, so that’s going to be a new experience.
Anyway, nice talking to all of you again and Hail State Hoops!
Day 7 - August 10 (Jerica James)
Hi to all of our Bulldog fans back home! It's great to be talking with you again, this time from Lyon, our next-to-last stop on our trip.
We actually stayed a little longer in Paris before we left on a 5-hour bus ride to Lyon. Our driver was actually required to stop after a certain time, so we pulled over to a convenience store that was rather unique. This place was a lot like our stores back home, but they had a grill inside that served full pasta dishes and other things like seafood and all kinds of pastries like tarts and Crème Brule.
The bus ride was long, but it gave us a good chance to sleep because exploring Paris really wore us all out.
Paris was absolutely gorgeous. I thought people would be rude, but everyone we met was very nice whether they spoke our language or not. The Eiffel Tower and seeing all of the different sites in the city was such a wonderful experience.
The highlight of the trip for me was the boat ride we took Saturday night. It was my first time to do something like that, and to see the Eiffel Tower light up as we went by was a memory I will never forget. I really couldn’t think of a better way to end our time in Paris.
The boat ride was so much fun because our team and everyone else on the trip with us were just hanging out and laughing and enjoying a great experience. There were also some other groups on the boat, and to see all of us with our different cultures just have fun together was neat.
My favorite thing to do was walk the streets and figure out how to get places without using a map. By the way, I have learned a lot of about my teammates on this trip, especially that you can’t give a map to our manager, YaYa (Smith) or Dominique (Dillingham).
Being with a group made walking around Paris a lot of fun, and we definitely got lost plenty of times. When we got lost, though, people there were more than willing to help us.
I also enjoyed riding the metro, which is their subway, and riding in a taxi was quite an experience because it’s almost like there are no rules on the streets. There are cars everywhere weaving in and out of lanes and turning in front of other cars. It is really crazy.
I bought my first souvenirs of the trip in Paris. Everywhere you went there were small Eiffel Towers, so I got some of those and some “I Love Paris” shirts for my family just to let them know that I was thinking of them while I was here.
Being over here as given us the chance to try some new foods. I have enjoyed trying different things, but I think the burgers are definitely my favorite.
I thought I would be sad leaving Paris, but I’m really not because I have so many great memories that I can remember through the pictures I took.
We got to Lyon and went to the hotel restaurant for our first team dinner. It was great. I finally got the salmon I had been wanting, and it was actually grilled and not smoked. The people in the restaurant were so nice, and the setting was perfect for all of us just to be together talking, laughing and having a good time.
For dessert we had something that was like apple pie and it was so good. It had ice cream on top, and I’m not much of an ice cream eater but it was really good.
One of the men there, I believe he was the manager, wanted to have his picture taken with us, and it was an honor for us to do it because they had been great to us.
Some of the girls went to walk by the river after dinner, but I decided to go to sleep so I can explore the city Monday before our final game of the trip.
Take care Bulldog fans and Hail State!
Day 6 - August 9 (Martha Alwal)
Bonjour everyone! This is Martha Alwal again to tell you about our final day in Paris. It has definitely been a busy day. It was nice to have the opportunity to explore the city, but it was even better after winning against a very tough team on Friday.
I really enjoyed our time in Belgium, but Paris was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most.
Today we woke up and ate some breakfast before heading out on a bus tour of the city. Our tour guide was this little lady who was so funny and knew so much about Paris. We drove all over the city and she told us about the history of Paris and all of the former kings. I never realized that the city had so many palaces. It was definitely a unique experience getting to see places like the Louvre, Notre Dame and Moulin Rouge.
My favorite part of the trip was being able to stop and take pictures at the Eiffel Tower. I have always seen pictures and wanted to see it in person, and it was amazing. We took a team picture in front of it, and the team also did one of us jumping in front of it. I think it is something that could be on a postcard.
The picture I really loved though was one of me on Chinwe’s back in front of the Eiffel Tower.
In the afternoon we did another tour of Paris, this time without a bus. Our tour hosts Julie and Annie set up The Amazing Race for us to do around Paris. That was so much fun. It might be my favorite part of the trip. We divided up into five teams, and I had Coach Schaefer, Chinwe and Sherise (Williams) on my team. We also had Julie come along with us as well.
We actually rode bikes around Paris for part of the race and that was exciting. At one point Chinwe was kind of wobbly on the bike and she actually ran into a parked bus. The bus driver started honking at her, and it was actually pretty funny. I’m still cracking up thinking about that.
Anyway, our first stop on the race was the Louvre, where we had to take a picture in front of the famous glass pyramid. After that there was a bonus stop. It was a bridge where you take a lock, write a message on it and lock it to the bridge. There are so many locks on that bridge. It’s really neat.
After that we had to go to Notre Dame, which is a really beautiful and famous cathedral. Then we had to go to the Eiffel Tower and take a picture of looking up from the bottom. You don’t really realize just how tall it is until you’re there.
We left the Eiffel Tower and went up this area (Trocadero steps) where you can really get a good picture of the tower.
Our last stop was the Arc de Triomphe, which we stopped at Friday, and then it was back to the hotel. I was so glad to get back to the hotel because we did a lot of running.
We didn’t win, but everybody thought we cheated because we had Julie, who spoke French, with us. Actually Coach (Elena) Lovato’s team, which had Morgan (William), Blair (Schaefer) and YaYa (Smith) on it, won.
Our last night in Paris was amazing. We took a boat tour on the river and got to see all of the great places in Paris. We rode the 9 p.m. boat, so going we had a full moon in the sky above the city, and coming back was amazing because we got to see the Eiffel Tower lit up.
The Eiffel Tower at night is absolutely beautiful. Actually, right as we were in front of it all these white lights starting going all up and down the tower. That was really cool.
It’s so cool to think that we toured Paris in a bus, on foot and in a boat all in the same day. Julie and Annie are so nice and a lot of fun. They brought sausage, cheeses and bread for us to eat on the boat.
It’s been a really great trip so far. I’m sad to leave Paris, but excited at the same time to see the other places. We have grown so much as a team, and I have learned that my teammates are really funny. Tonight on the boat they were dancing and getting all of the coaches and other people in our group dancing.
I have definitely had some new experiences on this trip. I even found a new food that I really like. Okay, it’s really a dessert. The first night in Belgium I tried tiramisu, and I can’t believe I have been missing out on that because it was so good.
Anyway, it’s off to bed. We leave Paris tomorrow and head to Lyon, but we actually aren’t leaving until the afternoon so we have time to explore the city a little more.
Hope everyone back home is doing great! I look forward to talking to you again very soon!
Day 5 - August 8 (Kendra Grant)
Hey Bulldog fans this is Kendra Grant! I thought about what I was going to tell you in this blog while hanging out with my teammates at the Sacre Coeure. It’s a beautiful cathedral on top of a small mountain. It’s quite a hike to get up there, but when you do you get a beautiful view of the city.
To see Paris from up here at night is simply amazing. We have been taking pictures up here and just having a good time enjoying Paris as a team.
We arrived in Paris this afternoon after leaving our first stop of the tour, Ghent, Belgium. It was about a three or four hour bus ride to get to Paris, but between sleeping and watching movies the time passed pretty quickly.
Ghent was amazing. Seeing the history of the city and all the different architecture was really neat. Obviously it’s a lot different from back home. Although I really enjoyed Ghent, I was definitely excited to get to Paris. It’s a place I have always wanted to visit, and to come here with my teammates is very special.
When we arrived in Paris our bus driver took us down the Champs-Elysees so we could see all of the amazing stores they have there. He then circled back around and took us to the Arc de Triomphe, which I’m sure everyone is familiar with. I haven’t done anything like this before, and it was amazing.
Tomorrow we will get to see more of the city because we are doing an Amazing Race type event that will be a lot of fun. I’m most excited to see the Eiffel Tower. You always see pictures of it in books, but to see it in person will be really cool.
After seeing the Arc de Triomphe we went to the hotel and had to go quickly find something to eat before we headed to the game. The game wasn’t anything like the first two games. It was very physical, which we knew it would be against a professional all-star team.
The team played great and Victoria (Vivians) was named the MVP. She played really well tonight.
It was a close game pretty much until the fourth quarter. It was a good challenge for us, so it was nice to come out on top.
Well, we are about to enjoy some good Italian food up here on the mountain before heading back to the hotel to go to bed. I think we are all tired after that physical game, but it’s going to be a lot of fun tomorrow getting to tour more of Paris.
Be sure to check back tomorrow as Martha will tell you all about our final day in Paris.
Day 4 - August 7 (Savannah Carter)
Hey Bulldogs this is Savannah Carter blogging about our final day in Ghent, Belgium.
We arrived at our hotel, the Marriott, which is right on a canal. I didn’t get to sleep until 3 a.m., but hopefully I will be able to sleep better tonight. It was nice to sleep in a bed after three days of airports and airplanes. It was definitely hard to get up this morning. Actually Martha and I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to our music blasting, but we went back to sleep.
After I woke up I walked down to breakfast and knew there would be plenty of bread, so I made me some toast. I started walking down the line of food and saw this raw stuff that I assumed was fish. I’m allergic to fish so I decided to head straight for the fruit. Some of the food was definitely different, but it was very good.
After breakfast we went on a tour of Ghent. Our guide was named Theo and he was great. He was really nice and I liked his accent. He kept me tuned in because he was very funny and knew a lot about the history of the city.
Before we left coach assigned us places we were going to visit and report on them in practice. Going over what we learned before and then having Theo go into more detail was really neat. I had the St. Bevo Cathedral and Ghent Altar Piece. It was really cool to actually see everything I had researched, especially the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb painting.
My favorite thing to see was probably the Belfry Tower. We tried to get the people up in the top of it to yell down to us. They did and we yelled back up to them.
Ghent is a busy town, and most of the people walk or ride bikes. We actually saw a man walking a bulldog. We tried to get him to stop and let us take a picture with the bulldog but he totally ignored us. One of our hosts, Julie, went to talk to him but even she couldn’t convince him.
I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to Ghent because all I really knew about was the cathedral I researched. When I got here I was amazed at how beautiful it was. You should really come here if you get the chance.
After visiting the cathedral we wrapped up the tour and broke off for free time. Most of the team toured the Gravensteen Castle, but I had to go back to the hotel and finish a paper for a class.
I got my paper submitted and had a sandwich for lunch before the game. It was really good, and I think I might have to go back and get me another one.
I haven’t bought any souvenirs yet. I planned to do that today, but I had to go back and get my paper turned in before the game.
Speaking of the game, we had a 45 minute bus ride to the game, and I actually fell asleep on the way although I didn’t intend to. I think we are all still very tired from all the travel. When we got out on the court we knew we had to put everything behind us and take care of business.
The team we played tonight was definitely a better team than we faced last night, but we came out and took care of business and got a big 105-45 win.
We were good, but we didn’t play to our potential due to the fact we haven’t gone over a lot in practice and the freshmen are still learning. Overall, though, we were good.
I really liked the team we played tonight. They hung out with us after the game and took pictures and danced. At one point I looked up and one of their players was battling me in dancing. Everyone said she won and they wouldn’t give me a chance. I think we are going to take her dance she did and use it in our dance in America.
Well, I’m off to get something to eat and pack for Paris!
Talk to you later and Hail State!
Day 3 - August 6 (Jerica James)
Good evening to everyone back in Mississippi from Belgium! It feels really good to say that because this has definitely been quite a trip. Martha told you about our plane having to make an emergency landing in Nova Scotia last night. Well, we got a new plane and finally made it to Belgium! We landed around 3 p.m. here, and by the time we got our luggage we had to go straight to the gym for our first game.
When we walked out of baggage claim to the main lobby area of the airport there were several local television stations there. We had no idea that the situation with our plane had made national news!
My first thought was to thank God that we were able to land and get the situation taken care of before it got worse. We were the first ones to walk in and see all the cameras and lights. One of the television stations interviewed me about the flight and all that happened. We said before we left that we were coming here to make a name for ourselves, but we didn’t realize it would be in such an unusual way.
We got to meet our guides, Annie and Julie. Annie played basketball with Ketara’s (Chapel) mom.
It was raining when we got here, and we got on the bus and had about an hour drive to the arena. There was definitely lots of traffic, but I was shocked because Belgium was not at all what I expected. I was thinking it would be a big city, but we actually drove through a lot of countryside and saw a lot of cows and sheep. We even saw one house that had ostriches!
Our bus driver did a really good job getting us to the arena because there were some really tight turns and very narrow roads.
We made it to the gym and did some drills to get our legs back under us. Then it was time for our first game against Sparta Laarne, and we played well and won 122-56. It says a lot about this team because despite the travel issues we still came out and played well and won.
We knew they were going to be physical, but I don’t think they expected us to come out and play the way we did. We played really good defense and created a lot of turnovers. We played together well and created open looks for everyone.
The game showed that we can play through adversity, and I think the whole travel experience brought us together even more because we were camped out together for long periods of time in airports and on planes. I think the thing this team shows is it can make a way out of no way.
We finally arrived at the Marriott in Ghent. It is a beautiful hotel right on a canal that has a lot of shops and restaurants.
We have free time the rest of the evening, and I don’t know about my teammates but I am getting something to eat and going to sleep!
Tomorrow will be another full day. We are going to tour some of the places in Ghent and then we have our second game of the trip. Hopefully we can enjoy exploring the city and end the day with another win!
Anyway, have a great night everyone and thanks for supporting our team!
Day 2 - August 5 (Martha Alwal)
Savannah Carter's Video Blog
It has definitely been quite the start to the trip. Our flight being cancelled in Memphis Monday meant getting up at 3 am this morning to head to the airport.
We made it to Chicago and had a long layover which gave us the chance to sleep and get something to eat.
We flew from Chicago to Newark, N.J., which was neat because you could see New York as we were landing.
We boarded our plane to Brussels and I had an empty seat beside me, allowing me to stretch my long legs out some more.
Each of our seats had our own screen to watch movies, and I was enjoying the flight until we ran into our next obstacle.
An oven in the back of the plane caught fire, but the flight attendants did a great job putting it out quickly. The pilots decided to land in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to have it checked out by the fire department.
The pilots told us another plane was coming from Washington, D.C., to carry us the rest of the way, but it was going to be three and a half hours until it arrived.
We sat on the plane for a long time, which gave me the chance to watch Frozen for the first time. "Hi my name is Olaf and I like warm hugs."
I also got to talk to the person next to me about everything and the crazy travel day we have had.
Now it's 1:45 am Mississippi time and we are sitting in the terminal in Halifax, which is actually my first time to be in Canada.
The new plane should be arriving shortly and we will be back on our way to Brussels.
We don't know now what time we will arrive in Belgium. We were supposed to get there a little after 7 Wednesday morning and play our first game later that night, but it looks like it's going to be closer to noon there before we arrive.
It's going to be tough with the travel difficulties, but we will be ready to come out and play. It's a seven hour time difference from Mississippi, so getting used to the time change will be our biggest adjustment.
Despite the travel difficulties it has been a great trip so far. The team gets along great, and hopefully that chemistry will grow as we enjoy Belgium and France.
Well, it's time to get some sleep and hopefully get to Belgium!
Jerica James will bring you tomorrow's blog and talk about Ghent, Belgium, and hopefully a win in our first game.
Day 1 - August 4 (Kendra Grant)
Savannah Carter's Day 1 Video Blog
Hey everyone! This is Kendra Grant, a senior on the Mississippi State women’s basketball team. It’s hard to believe that our trip to Europe is finally here! All of us are very excited, but it is even more special for the seniors – Jerica James, Martha Alwal, Savannah Carter and myself.
We are excited because this is such a special way to begin our senior year here at State. It seems like such a long time ago that Coach Schaefer told us we were going, and for it to finally be here is kind of hard to believe.
It’s going to be a great trip with our teammates. I am a last-minute packer, so I got everything packed for 10 days last night. Somehow I got it all done.
We had our final practice at 6 a.m. this morning. It was a good practice, and we mainly ran through our offenses just to make sure we were ready to go. We are going to have a lot of fun on this trip, but when we are on the court we are going to play to win.
We loaded the bus this afternoon. To pass time we watched a movie, but that didn’t last long because the late night packing and early practice caught up with me and I fell asleep. We have a very funny group, and we had a great time when we were awake on the bus.
We got to the airport and got checked in for our flight, but we found out that our flight was delayed. We were able to get something to eat, and some members of the team have been playing UNO.
Unfortunately we found out we weren’t going to be able to fly out tonight, so it looks like we are going to be spending our first night in Memphis.
So instead of saying good night from Chicago, it’s good night from Memphis. Check back tomorrow as my teammate Martha Alwal will tell you about what hopefully is a flight to Europe.