Flashes will head to Vancouver in August for first international trip

Summer group (1)

The women’s team celebrated the end of July workouts in 1980s style. Asiah Dingle tutu, however, is timeless.  One player’s father commented in a tweet, “Hard work and fun?? Something special happening @KentStWBB. Sooo happy my kid is part of it. (Photo from KSU Twitter feed.)

The Kent State women will head to Vancouver, Canada, in two weeks for the team’s first international summer competition in school history.

The Flashes will travel from Aug. 9-16 and play three college teams, along with seeing the sights in the Canadian West.

The NCAA allows teams to take an international summer trip every four years. The KSU men’s team has made some trips — most recently to Costa Rica in 2017. I have a memory of the volleyball team going overseas some years ago but couldn’t find anything in a quick online search.

I caught coach Todd Starkey on the phone Friday. He was just back from his last big recruiting trip of the summer (he took two calls from recruits during the interview). He said he had concentrated so much on recruiting and summer workouts that he didn’t know all the details about the trip — including the teams the Flashes were playing.

“We going to break down all the Canada stuff at a staff meeting Monday,” he said.

KSU will play three games against college teams.

“That’s just about the right amount, so you’re not exhausted,” Starkey said. “From what I understand, it will be a good mix of games — kind of three levels of teams.”

The trip, he said, is something that has been in the works for several years.

“As we were trying to build our program, this is one of the things that we really wanted to we accomplish the first four years,” he said.

The cost of the trip, Starkey said, was spread over two years’ budgets and included some money the team had saved and raised in the last few years. (He didn’t want to say how much it was costing. I’d estimate it will be well into the tens of thousands but considerably less than European trips that other schools have taken.)

“It’s really not overextending the budget at all,” he said.

The trip gives the team extra practice time and game experience beyond what it could get on campus, where the NCAA limits coaches to four hours a week of practice time with players. The team can spend another four hours on organized conditioning.

On the trip, they can practice just as if it were in the middle of the season.

“It won’t be like the hyper intense atmosphere that we have in February and March,” he said. “We don’t want to bury them — just build team rapport and competitive chemistry.

“The timing is great for us. We have a really good core of returning players, along with three freshmen and a transfer. It’s a chance to get experience practicing and playing together before the season starts.”

There also will be sightseeing and team bonding, the coach said.

“It’s a location that a lot of our players would never necessarily choose to go to, and  it’s one of the most beautiful places anywhere,” Starkey said.

Starkey said he plans to do such a trip every four years.

“Virtually everybody is doing some sort of an international experience for players,” he said. “Teams that aren’t doing something can eventually fall behind in recruiting.”



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