OXFORD, Miss. - While most students have left the Ole Miss campus, as summer officially begins this weekend, the Rebel volleyball team has been practicing the past couple of weeks getting ready for the trip of a lifetime. Sunday, the team, coaches and support staff will head to Europe for a 10-day trip, including volleyball matches and team bonding as they explore different cultures.
The team will land in Prague, Czech Republic first and then head to Vienna, Austria and several other cities in Italy, before concluding the trip in Milan.
"I've never been on one of these trips before, and I've been coaching 17 years," head coach Steven McRoberts said. "I know the girls are excited about it, and even for me it's neat to be able to do this. It's nice to reward players. There are a lot of players who wouldn't see the world otherwise. It's good for team bonding, especially with a brand new staff. We like the fact that we get an extra 21 days with them to do all this stuff and help them have a life experience that many of them might not ever get to do again."
After a brief break once the spring season ended and the semester concluded, the team got back together for practices leading up to the trip.
"The girls have come back really refreshed," McRoberts said. "The three week break from the last time we were on the court helped us mentally. This week has been one of the better, if not the best weeks we've had since I've been here. It's very encouraging. They've caught on to a lot of what we taught all spring. Now, they understand the system a lot more. They've been very coachable this week. They have done a good job of trying to do what we have asked them to do."
For rising senior Marie-Pierre Bakima, this trip will not be her first to Europe, as she hails from Paris. She has family in Milan and has visited them before. Bakima is excited about going back to Europe and taking her volleyball family with her.
"They are going to love it," said Bakima very enthusiastically. "It's going to be different for them, because a lot of them have never been abroad. It will be neat for them to see another part of the world and a different culture."
Bakima talked about some of the differences they will experience, besides the obvious one of the language barrier.
"The food is so good. Not everyone speaks English, so communication will be difficult at times. I have family in Milan and they are coming to watch us. I am pretty excited," she concluded.
Rachael McLamore, a Texas native who will also be a senior this fall, said she had traveled to Guatemala on a mission trip before, but has never been to Europe.
"I am so excited to see Prague, and all the architecture and history that Mapie has been telling us about. I am also looking forward to playing volleyball against some of the national teams. Competition in Europe is a lot different; they have a different style of play. I am looking forward to seeing how our team competes."
As a new coach, McRoberts likes the opportunity this trip will give him and his staff to see the team in action again as they prepare for their first season together.
"The competitions will help us evaluate the team in a match environment that you can't simulate in practice. Even though the matches don't count, we get to see players play in pressure situations, how they react in these type situations and who steps up. The more experiences we can have like this, it allows us to make smarter choices as we go forward in putting players in positions to be successful and help the team be successful."
This will be a new experience for everyone involved spending 10 days together on and off the courts.
"It's going to be a growing experience for us," McLamore said. "It will help our team bond and grow closer together. "We haven't spent that much time together at once playing volleyball and traveling, so this will be good for us to get to know each other better as players and with the new staff.
"I don't know if I'll ever have this opportunity again. "To be able to go experience other cultures and see another part of the world and play the sport that I love is a win-win situation."
The student were off for the first week of winter break, but Observations from the Best Seat in the House press on, as the football teams moves closer to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and the men's and women's basketball teams... read more
Senior quarterback Bo Wallace, like his head coach, stepped into a program that had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14 straight games. Three years later, Wallace helped lead the ninth-ranked Rebels to their first nine-win regular... read more
Official welcome to Chad Kelly, the No. 1 JUCO QB in the country from national champion East Mississippi CC. #HottyToddy-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 17, 2014 Just Sent My LOI In To The University Of Mississippi!!! Feel's Good To... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 8-14, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded with a 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. The win was the first after back-to-back losses for the Rebels for the first time... read more
Ole Miss Details Stadium Expansion Plans Ole Miss unveiled the master plan for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which includes two phases of renovation and expansion. Scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 season, the expansion will bring the seating capacity... read more
With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 1-7, 2014Football- No. 9 Ole Miss accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where they will face No. 6 TCU on Dec. 31 in Atlanta's Georgia Dime.- Ole Miss is making... read more
While the Rebels have enjoyed a solid fall on the fields and courts and look forward to the upcoming Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and more basketball games, all student-athletes are busy this week proving they are champions in the classroom... read more
In the early part of the week, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract. In the late part of the week, the Rebels learned their postseason bowl destination. Here are... read more
Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic. "We... read more
Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract, they both announced on Twitter early Tuesday morning. Terms will be released as they are finalized and are expected in the coming days.... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Nov. 24-30, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss won the annual "Egg Bowl" rivalry 31-17 over No. 4 Mississippi State in front of another sold-out crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.- The Rebels finish the... read more