Succeeding many months of preparation and training, on September 17 at night, just before the September break, 9 girls and 10 boys from our volleyball and basketball teams respectively, together with their coaches, boarded the flights for the first ever joint volleyball and basketball tour to the US.
Both teams, in their own right, had shown not only remarkable sporting success throughout their years at the school, having won numerous tournaments, but also stood out for their commitment and dedication to their sports, and so they deservedly had earned the right to represent our school and test themselves against much harder competition in the US.
After a long journey, both teams arrived and settled in in Los Angeles, and the following day the basketball team participated in a tournament with clubs from the local area. Over two days, the boys fought hard against very high performing teams, adapted to different nuances in the rules, learned to withstand some dubious refereeing calls and raise their level substantially to finish the tournament with one win and three closely contested losses. The fast-paced and very intense rhythm of basketball in the US provided a steep but welcome learning curve for our team.
At the same time, the girls had their own baptism of fire participating in a beach volleyball tournament in Huntington Beach. Learning the very particular rules of beach volleyball, adapting to playing in the sand, as well as coping with the intense physical exertion required of the game were also dire challenges for our girls, who started hesitatingly but gradually got the knack of the game and ended up playing on very even terms with much older and experienced teams. All in all it was an unforgettable experience in a beautiful and unique setting.
The following day, after touring some of the more notable sites of LA, including the University of Southern California (USC), in the afternoon, the girls played their first school match against Notre Dame Academy in Los Angeles. It was the first time that our team, made up of senior and junior girls, ever played in a full-size gymnasium. Cheered on raucously by the basketball boys, the girls played very well in a competitive game but ultimately fell short against an excellent team from the host school.
The next match, which featured both teams playing together side-by-side, was held at a school in, of all places, the mountain town of Los Olivos, in a beautiful rural area where we enjoyed a wonderfully warm reception from students, parents and stuff from Dunne School, as well as a full gym ready to cheer on the home team. The girls lost a very close game two sets to one, playing great volleyball and rising up to the occasion amidst a crowded gym and stiflingly warm conditions. Then the basketball boys played the home site and, despite some very partial refereeing which ended up being the norm all throughout the tour, soundly defeated the home team in one of the best performances ever of our team. Our hosts invited us to dinner and we were able to enjoy the beautiful mountain setting and our students were able to mingle and make new friendships with their opponents.
The tour then continued in San Francisco, where both teams were scheduled to play the day after arriving. Unfortunately, the girls match was canceled and the boys ended up playing against a club side, putting up a great effort against a vastly superior team, who also had many more replacements, and, even though they lost the game, they showed tremendous grit and determination.
Before the last games of the tour and returning to Argentina, as part of the cultural program associated with the trip, we were able to visit Stanford University, and, as one of the highlights of the trip, Google headquarters, where we were hosted by members of the education team and we even had the chance to have lunch at the Google Plex dining room, as well as visiting various sites on the Google campus.
Final matches were then held, and the girls participated in several games at a YMCA facility in a beautiful setting in San Francisco, and the boys in yet another tournament where the played three more games, giving a great account of themselves and learning very valuable lessons in the process, so much so that, upon their return from the tour, they continued their long undefeated streak in the local tournament and are poised to become champions for the second time this year.
Undoubtedly, the tour was a fantastic experience, behavior of students was exemplary and they were outstanding ambassadors both for our school and our country. Congratulations to all students and thanks to their coaches and families for their support of this tour.