Monday, October 20, 2014

OU student-athletes heading for sun

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 12/13/2013

While many Ottawans continue to deal with frigid temperatures at home, Ottawa University’s women’s basketball team is heading to Puerto Rico where the average temperature in December is above 80 degrees.

Every two or three years, the women’s basketball team takes a trip in December, head coach Bruce Tate said, both to get away from the icy Kansas weather, and to do what they do best: play basketball. This year’s trip is especially significant for some players, he said.

While many Ottawans continue to deal with frigid temperatures at home, Ottawa University’s women’s basketball team is heading to Puerto Rico where the average temperature in December is above 80 degrees.

Every two or three years, the women’s basketball team takes a trip in December, head coach Bruce Tate said, both to get away from the icy Kansas weather, and to do what they do best: play basketball. This year’s trip is especially significant for some players, he said.

“We have five seniors on the team this year, and four of the five have been together since freshman year,” Tate said. “I gave them a few choices and Puerto Rico is where they chose. ... We’ve been to places like Hawaii, the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.”

The team is scheduled to arrive in San Juan, Puerto Rico, by Sunday night and head back to Kansas City by the following Saturday evening. It won’t be all fun and sun: OU’s squad is set to compete in the Women’s Puerto Rico Classic.

Fifteen players currently make up the Lady Braves roster, according to the university’s athletic website, which includes Tate’s five seniors, Amber Ramsey, Morgan Boore, Jessica Christman, Angelic Frazier and Shauna McClure. All the girls are planning to make the trip after a lot of hard work to get to this point, Tate said.

“[The players] are definitely very excited,” he said. “Right now we are trying to get through finals week and our last two conference games. Ninety-eight percent of the trip is fundraised by the girls. It is something they have pretty much earned, and all that hard work will be celebrated.”

The team’s fundraisers included working at concerts in Kansas City, working as ushers and ticket takers at University of Kansas sporting events and a booster e-mail blast, Tate said.

Their reward?

“We’ll give the girls some free time to see the sights,” he said. “We have a practice Tuesday morning, our first game is 2 p.m. [Puerto Rican time] Wednesday. Thursday we have an 11 a.m. shoot-around, followed by an early evening game, and Friday is totally off. For the work [the players] have put in, they should get the chance to enjoy the beach and the sand. [Our resort] is two blocks away from the beach.”

As a senior, Ramsey said she and her team are excited to get away.

“[Tate] gave us an option to go to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, or Las Vegas,” she said. “All of us seniors were talking and we decided it would be fun to go out of the states, somewhere it is warm, and somewhere we can bond as a team.

“We are talking about it already, and our coach is saying, ‘No you still have two more games and then you can focus on Peurto Rico. You can’t be thinking about it right now,’” Ramsey said Wednesday. “We are excited to be on the plane and some of us haven’t been on an airplane before. We are going to the ocean where most of us haven’t been to the ocean before. [It is exciting to] just being able to be there as a team and make the memories we will always have.”

The Lady Braves play two exhibition matches against American University of Puerto Rico at 1 p.m. [U.S. Central Time] Wednesday, and Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras at 3 p.m. Thursday. The shootout is not set up in a bracket tournament style, so the team is scheduled to play just the two games.

“We like to schedule tough,” Tate said. “[The games] give us a chance to play a couple of division up. It should be really good competition without a lot of pressure. We are just going out and working on things we need to work on.”

Ramsey, who leads the Lady Braves with 13.7 points per game so far this season, is looking forward to the experience of playing basketball outside of the United States.

“Going down there to play these games will be fun,” she said. “None of us have experienced playing games outside of America. It will be fun for us to go out there and have the mind set that we can knock off these teams and we have the capability from what coach Tate has prepared us through our preseason games.”

After Christmas break, it’s back to business as usual for the Lady Braves as the team will be preparing for the downhill stretch of Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference games, Tate said.

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