The University of Minnesota soccer program is set to take a trip to Italy from March 10-18. The program aims to do an international trip every four years, giving student-athletes an opportunity to see the world.
GopherSports.com revisted with the last group of student-athletes to travel with the soccer program. Allie Reinke, a 2015 graduate, traveled with the team to Spain while she was with the Gophers. She shares some of her experiences on the trip, and what the current team, and anyone, can expect when they travel across the Atlantic.
You can follow the Gophers 2018 trip to Italy on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The team will have opportunities to play against Italian teams along with visiting some of the biggest landmarks the country has to offer and it will all be captured on either our social platform or GopherSports.com.
GopherSports.com: Tell us about what you remember most from the trip to Spain.
Allie Reinke: The trip was planned amazingly, where there was an awesome mix of getting to see the true culture and landmarks of Spain, while also getting the international soccer side of it. I have been very fortunate to travel a lot, and if I wouldn't have been able to go with our team, I probably would've missed out on a lot of the awesome tours we did. What I remember most is the feeling of being inside Sagrada Familia and how all-encompassing the building is. It was truly like nothing I have ever seen before.
GS: What can something like an overseas trip do for a team?
AR: It is an amazing team bonding activity. Last trip it was a few people's first time out of the country! The ability to try new experiences, taste new foods, and see how other people across the world live is such an eye opener that is so much more than just soccer. However, seeing the different levels of game across the world was crazy too! American style soccer was so different than the Spanish style, that’s what made our exhibitions so fun!
GS: What can something like an overseas trip do for an individual?
AR: It makes us much more culturally aware. You learn to appreciate different styles of doing things. Adaptability is huge while traveling, there are so many unknowns, new places, and cultural norms you often mess up... but you learn! The skill of being adaptable and flexible plays into the game of soccer and being a good teammate so much. If you are willing to adapt what you regularly do to for the betterment of the team... there is not a whole lot more people can ask for!
GS: Did you play any soccer teams while you were over there? How did those go for you and the team? What are some of the differences in how soccer is played there?
AR: We were lucky enough to play three games! It was crazy to see the differences in physicality, we were a lot stronger and quicker, and way more physically fit. However, the girls we played were amazing technicians. They could drop a ball on a dime, super-fast foot skills, etc. In all honesty, I can't even remember if we won or lost, but I do remember their skills!
GS: Outside of soccer, what did the team spend the most time on?
AR: We did a lot of sightseeing, which is what interested me the most! We usually had some sort of tour in the morning, and then we would stay in that area or get dropped off somewhere for lunch where we could break off into small groups and pick our own spots. It was a great mix of being scheduled, but getting to be off on our own exploring a new country within the given schedule. I was in design school in college, and I was very thankful for how many museum and landmark trips we did, Spain has an amazing design culture that was fun to pair with the other half of my life - soccer.
GS: What were some of the more memorable spots/sights?
AR: Sagrada Familia. That place is a wonder. It feels like you are in another world inside, and it’s a functioning church! The other is Camp Nou - Barcelona Football Club's stadium. I have seen a lot of stadiums and arenas, but never been in a place so large and so loud! I cannot imagine the atmosphere in there for a big playoff game or something. Just massive! Plus, not everyone can say they got to see Messi play on his home turf!
GS: Do you have any specific memories/stories from there?
AR: Watching Messi score multiple goals after being out for a bit, it wasn't a guarantee he was going to play that game, so we were in for a treat! Sagrada Familia is too beautiful to put into words, you just have to see it for yourself.
GS: What was the best dish you had while overseas? Is the food in Europe as good as everyone claims it to be?
AR: One of the nights there, we had a homemade meal. My favorite they made was the Paella, a spiced mix of seafood and meats and rice. There is also a lot of seafood in Spain, and cured meats. I was about 50/50 on what dishes I liked versus what I didn’t, mainly because I don’t like seafood! The churros were amazing, they maybe are not truly authentic, but most nights most of the team would go to a little cafe and get a “churro con chocolat”.
GS: For some of the kids going on the trip in 2018, it will be their first trip outside of the United States, what do you suggest to them?
AR: Be willing to try new things. Half of the fun of traveling is being the minority and not necessarily knowing what is going on. No matter how tired you are, try to do everything they throw at you. Only a few of us were up for going inside Sagrada Familia, and I still feel bad for those who didn't get to see it! Also, research the cities where you are going on your own, it is always helpful to have a general overview of customs / things to see and do there!
GS: Any last tips?
AR: Follow your nose; usually the tiniest looking cafe is where the amazing food is! You should also be prepared to walk; that is how you see some of the best things!
Be sure to come back to GopherSports.com to find the Spring schedule release later this week along with other entries from past Gopher soccer student-athletes.
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