Wildcats to leave for Spain
Baker University's men's basketball team will be saying "feliz ano nuevo" when its celebrates New Year's Eve in Madrid, Spain, during its nine-day holiday trip.
A party of 45 people will be leaving Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday for Madrid as part of the International Sports Exchange. The group will experience Spanish culture while the Wildcats play three exhibition basketball games.
"It should be a pretty good time," Baker men's basketball coach Rick Weaver said. "This is the third time at Baker we have used the outfit that lines up the things. They basically line up the entire trip with the plane reservations, hotels, tours and games."
The traveling party will include Baker players, coaches, family members and other students. The trip was being offered to students as an interterm class at Baker, so several decided to make the journey.
"We work it in as an interterm class and we have other Baker students enrolled as well," Weaver said. "There are some academic responsibilities, but it's basically a chance to experience another culture."
Some of the tourist spots for the Baker group will be the Del Prado museum, Roman aqueducts and castles. The museum is one of Spain's most prestigious.
The group will stay in downtown Madrid and have side trips to Segovia and Toledo.
"It's a good location, but I think part of the fun is going out and exploring the city," Weaver said. "We will have some free time for the kids to get out a bit."
One thing that Weaver has heard about Madrid is that events tend to start and end later than they do in the United States.
"I have never been to Madrid," Weaver said. "From what I gather, everything there runs later. They say we are going to leave bright and early at 9:30 in the morning. We will get back after dinner at 10 p.m. I think just being around the different culture, customs and people will be interesting."
Weaver knows the trip will be fun, but he also knows the missed practice could hurt the team.
"There are positive and negatives about the trip," Weaver said. "The negative thing is it comes right in the middle of the season and trying to get back in a routine of playing basketball. The positive things are it's a great cultural thing. It's kind of a once-in-a-lifetime deal for many of our players. I think it's a great opportunity to experience something new."
During the trip, the Wildcats will play three exhibition games against international competition. Baker will have to adjust to different rules and regulations, since the games will be played with the international rules.
The idea of the trip came about because of the numerous players returning this season.
"We had a lot of returning players back and we asked if they wanted to do anything special," Weaver said. "The idea of a Spain trip came up and they were all pretty much gung-ho ready to go."
The timing of the choice for a trip was necessary financially.
"We made the decision last spring, because there is a lot of fundraising and things to do for preparation," Weaver said.
Funding for the trip was provided by the players, members in the traveling party, Baker Super Scramble Golf Tournament and the Wildcat Roundball Club.
Weaver said he has run into a few problems with getting everything ready to go, including some of the tickets.
"There has been a few last minute adjustments," Weaver said. "One player and his family are meeting us there after a little tour in London. We have another player meeting us there after touring a bit in France. We are hoping we all rendezvous at the right place."
Dave Tregemba, a junior from Castle Rock, Colo., will be joined by his family on the trip. The Tregembas are making it a family vacation and will travel to England before meeting the rest of the group in Spain.
This will be the third overseas trip for Baker. In 1989-90, the Wildcats traveled to Germany, France, Holland, Belgium and England. In 2002-03, the Wildcats traveled to Italy and Greece.
For the third time, International Sports Exchange in Plainfield, Indiana, set up the trip.
Baker returns Jan. 4, practices one day and then heads out on a six-hour bus trip for Canton, Mo., for a game at Culver-Stockton on Jan. 7.
Jokingly, Weaver said he might stay in Spain.
"I don't know if I'll come back," Weaver said. "We'll see how we are doing over there."