The Sacramento State women's basketball team spent Friday traveling back to Sacramento from Puerto Rico at the end of a long and incredible week. It was another long day and included a delay of nearly an hour, but the team finally landed safely back in Sac.
Recapping the week are two more blogs, one from senior Maranne Johnson and another from Associate Athletic Director Markus Jennings.
The team would like to thank everyone for their support all week. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the team and an experience that they will never forget. Be sure to look back at each individual blog, listed below.
Day 7 Player Blogs – Friday, Dec. 22
Coconut rice changed my life. Not really, but it was for sure one of the most delicious things I've tried in a long time. I had to start with that.
But now it's the last day in Puerto Rico! We had a really full day yesterday, so most of us did our best to sleep in before enjoying our last morning. After a quick breakfast, a bunch of us headed down to the beach to enjoy it before we had to leave. It was really just a very chill and relaxing morning.
Overall, this Puerto Rico trip has really been a wonderful experience, made even better that I got to share it with my second family. It wouldn't be the same without my them.
We did have some low points this week, both the tough losses we picked up against Miami and NIU, but this trip did a lot to remind us that it's not always just about basketball.
I know the whole team and I loved being able to spend time with those who underwent the devastating hurricane. We really enjoyed being able to provide them with supplies that could be useful, especially considering there are many of them still with out power and electricity.
Creating smiles and laughter with the Universidad de Puerto Rico Humacao's women's basketball team while we bonded and shared our stories was definitely a huge, huge high of the trip.
And like I said, another favorite was the coconut rice. I don't remember what exactly is in it or the name of the restaurant, but that rive will live on with me. Seriously, I hope I meet the inventor one day so I can tell them just how amazing it is.
Overall, it as a really special week and I know my teammates and I are all incredibly grateful for this opportunity to not just play basketball, but to give back to an area in need.
As I sit on the plane flying back to Sacramento reflecting on this last week in Puerto Rico with the Women's Basketball program, I feel very fortunate to have had this experience. I also find myself really thinking about the student-athlete experience and asking myself what that means for our institution at Sacramento State.
First of all, there aren't many schools from the Big Sky Conference that will have an opportunity to go to a beautiful island like Puerto Rico for a Christmas tournament with temperatures in the mid-80's for an entire week. While we may not have had the success on the court in our two games played that we had hoped for, that still didn't diminish the great experiences we all shared while visiting Puerto Rico. This team has gotten better and with the start of Big Sky Conference play coming up within the week, there is great optimism amongst the group.
Off the court, I know all of the student-athletes and staff have a greater appreciation of their everyday lives and living conditions. The damage that Hurricane Maria has had on Puerto Rico is something that is difficult to imagine until you see it for yourself. Seeing the news reports on television doesn't tell the true story of what daily challenges the island faces.
I again want to thank our Biology professor, Dr. Sema Quinones for her guidance and partnership recommending us to go to her hometown and visit with the Women's Basketball team of the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao.. Dr. Quinones is a graduate of UPRH it was with her help that we were able to deliver supplies to the students on the campus.
Standing alongside our team and passing out supplies and clothing to some of the students at UPRH was more gratifying to me than almost anything I've done in a very long time. I've always felt that in life is not about what you have but what you can give. The appreciation from the Chancellor, Dean of Students and the students we were able to help is what made entire trip the most memorable. There will be many more basketball games and team bonding activities but putting a smile on someone's face is what it's all about.
While waiting in the airport in San Juan to return home, Coach Baxter revealed to me a quote from the great Maya Angelou that sums up our trip in every way. It states, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." I hope we made the great people of Puerto Rico feel a little bit better during those few hours we were on their campus!
The UPRH women's basketball student-athletes and our Women's Basketball program had the opportunity to hang out and they really bonded. They are a very resilient group of young people and they demonstrated to me a lesson in perseverance. In speaking to them, they said all they want to do is have a place they can play basketball. Hurricane Maria may have broken down their athletics facilities but it hasn't broken their spirits. Our hearts will always be with UPRH as they continue to rebuild. I think we represented the true spirit of what the Hornet Family is really all about!
- Markus Jennings
Day 1 Player Blog - Kyhonta Doughty
Day 2 Player Blog - Raegen Rohn
Day 3 Player Blog - Hannah Friend and Quayonna Harris
Day 4 Player Blog - Anna Weibel and Justyce Dawson
Day 5 Player Blog - Dana DeGraffenreid
Day 6 Player Blog - Kennedy Nicholas and Tiara Scott