This year, the Tenison Woods College Titans Basketball program led the largest overseas touring party in school history, transporting 42 students and seven adults to America for the 2015 Titans USA Tour.
After 18 months of planning and fundraising, the tour began at midnight on 29 November with a bus full of excited travellers heading to Melbourne to begin their journey to foreign shores.
The group touched down in Los Angeles and headed straight for the iconic Santa Monica Pier, enjoying some California sunshine and a chance to stretch their legs after the fourteen hour flight the night before. As you can imagine, a tour group of 49 people attracts quite a lot of attention anywhere it goes, but the students enjoyed engaging in conversation with curious locals and quickly immersed themselves in the US culture.
From Los Angeles, the four teams within the group progressed to Seattle to play the first of their basketball games against Woodinville High School. The students enjoyed what would become a familiar “rock star” welcome, with relentless pleas to engage in conversation so as to showcase their Australian accents.
Over the course of the next two weeks, the teams played against a number of different US high schools and enjoyed the richly rewarding experience of being billeted with American host families. This enabled the students and their hosts to exchange stories and facts about their respective homelands and quickly became a favourite aspect of the school visits, with many of the students forming life-long friendships thanks to their welcoming host families.
From the first night, the group delighted in a variety of entertainment, including the Wooden Legacy college basketball tournament, enabling the students to watch the likes of Arizona, Boise State, Santa Clara and Michigan State take the court in high quality NCAA Division 1 basketball games and whetting the appetite of the group for the myriad of tourist attractions that were to follow.
The list of landmarks included the Boeing Museum, the Seattle Space Needle, Seattle Mariners Baseball stadium, Multnomah Falls, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, San Diego Zoo and many more, as well as guided tours of NCAA college campuses such as Gonzaga University.
Aside from the landmarks, the attractions the group enjoyed included such storied favourites as Disneyland, California Adventure Park, Universal Studios, an LA Clippers vs Milwaukee Bucks NBA game and a San Diego Chargers NFL game.
The students also tested the limitations of their budget at the Nike Employee Store in Spokane, though the adults seemed to enjoy this stop as much as anyone! The group enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime experience on this trip and returned home to Mount Gambier just in time for Christmas, brimming with tales of the adventure that they shared for the past month across the west coast of the USA. The students were outstanding ambassadors for both their school and their country, and an amazing time was had by all involved.
Finally, a big thank you must go to Dycer Constructions and all the parents and extended families whose financial support through sponsorship and fundraising helped facilitate this trip.