GW Lacrosse Spends Two Weeks Down Under
Colonials Spent 12 Days Playing and Touring Australia Ahead of 2014 Season
Jan. 17, 2014
Day 1: Blog | Video
After 65 hours of travel, seven plane rides and 12 days spent in three different cities, "once in a lifetime" only begins to describe the George Washington lacrosse team's trip to Australia, but it does not paint the picture of the experiences and memories the team took home and will have forever.
From Dec. 29, 2013 - Jan. 10, 2014 GW practiced, played, toured and immersed itself in the Australian culture.
"It is hard to put into words how incredible this trip was," said Head Coach Tara Hannaford. "We packed a lot of activities into our time there, and that is exactly what we wanted - for the student-athletes to embrace the culture, to learn about Australia and its history and to compete against competitive lacrosse programs."
Traveling from different parts of the U.S. while on GW's winter break, the team and its contingent gathered in Dallas two days after Christmas to begin the excursion halfway around the world. After a 17-hour flight the team landed in Brisbane on Dec. 29 and following a brief layover, arrived in Cairns for the first leg of the tour. Yes, Dec. 28, 2013 did not exist for the Colonials.
After a guided bus tour through Cairns, the team went on a run down the Esplanade - a scenic boardwalk that stretches for miles next to a lagoon - and was immediately submersed in Australian culture that night at dinner as everyone enjoyed traditional fare of barramundi, bison, crocodile, emu and kangaroo.
A day spent swimming and snorkeling at the picturesque Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the natural world, punctuated the first leg of the trip, though the Colonials also put their team bonding skills to the test while white water rafting down the Barron River. Then, upholding GW's dedication to service, the team spent a morning weeding, painting, washing vehicles and putting together gym equipment for Harald's House, a non-profit community that provides a safe and stable home to local homeless youth.
On New Year's Day the team was up early on a flight that brought the traveling party to Adelaide for the second leg of the tour. After a chance to explore the city and enjoy the sights and sounds where GW would remain for five days, the squad got to work with its first practice of 2014 at the Brighton Lacrosse Club.
On the agenda the following day was a trip to the iconic Cleland Wildlife Park, before competing in its first of four games. While at Cleland the team had the unique experience of interacting with and feeding kangaroos while also petting and taking personal photos with a koala. GW then packed up and headed to the field where it defeated the Brighton Lacrosse Club, 14-11, led by senior Terasa Vassallo with four goals, sophomore Olivia Boudreau with two goals and two assists and junior Jamie Bumgardner with two assists and a goal. The squads then gathered at the clubhouse for a post-game barbecue and social where they exchanged stories and got to know one another.
A cricket lesson was on the docket next as GW took local transit a few miles down the road to Gillespie Sports Cricket Nets and Pitch where everyone received a tutorial and information session. Following the cricket lesson the team was off to the Glenelg Lacrosse Club for Game 2 and an Aboriginal cultural experience. The Colonials put on a shooting clinic as they defeated GLC, 19-6, while Bumgardner led all scorers with three goals and two assists and sophomore Gabbi Hull netted four tallies. In addition to learning about Aborigines, those whose ancestors are indigenous to the mainland of Australia as well as the island of Tasmania, members of the team and traveling party were able to have their faces and arms painted as they learned songs and participated in traditional dance.
The Colonials returned to the Glenelg Lacrosse Club field the next day to host a youth clinic for more than 40 local girls from Adelaide ranging in ages from 8-18, where they worked on passing, stick work, defensive footwork and positioning and shooting. GW then competed in Game 3 against the SA All Stars, a team comprised of the best players from club teams across South Australia. The Colonials were edged by the All Stars, but Bumgardner paced the team with three goals and five assists while classmate Allie Rash tallied three goals.
An early scenic drive and a 45-minute ferry ride next brought the GW contingent to Kangaroo Island where it spent the day admiring Australian sea lions at the beautiful Seal Bay and sandboarding at the Little Sahara sand dunes. The trip was capped with a traditional meal of fish and chips courtesy of the Sea Spray Café before returning to Adelaide late in the evening. The Colonials competed in their fourth and final game the next day, defeating Wilderness Lacrosse Club, 13-6, on the strength of a well-rounded offense from freshman Michaela Lynch (2 g, 1 a), Forcier (2 g), junior Rachel Mia (2 g), Rash (2 g) and Bumgardner (1 g, 3 a). Overall GW went 3-1 on the trip and will use the games to help prepare for the upcoming season.
The vibrant city of Sydney next awaited the Colonials as they embarked on the final leg of their tour. Upon arrival, a guided bus tour full of information about the city's rich history provided the team with ample understanding of the country's most populous city. Everyone got the chance to "hang 10" the next day during a team surf lesson at Manly Beach before wrapping the trip on top with the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. The climb is a 1,332-step three-and-a-half hour journey through and over the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the tallest steel arch bridge in the world as it measures 134 meters (440 feet) from top to water level. The traveling party then gathered on the evening of Jan. 9 for a farewell dinner.
Having partaken in several incredible and exciting activities, games and cultural experiences throughout the 12-day tour, the team brought home a lifetime's worth of stories and memories. With the trip of a lifetime complete, the Colonials can now look forward to a successful 2014 season.
"We have a very close team as it is, but spending two weeks and doing so many different things has definitely made everyone closer. Spending an extended period of time in a foreign country with your teammates is a unique experience and creates another level of team bonding. These student-athletes now have experienced such an amazing trip, and it's great that they will always be able to share those memories with 27 other people," Coach Hannaford said.