It was the right team at the right time, said Columbia University women’s basketball coach Megan Griffith, who recently completed a one-week foreign tour through Morocco and Spain with the team. The trip had originally been planned for 2020, but having it delayed was sort of a blessing as this team has not only put in the work, but also notched the success to make the most of it.
“Being able to build off of where we left off, but also shotgun start our season,” said Griffith. “The trip honestly gave us an opportunity to grow closer as a program. … Going somewhere different, experiencing something different with those people, you learn about yourself. Basketball was kind of like the bonus. Coming away from it, I would say our team is very ready to take this next step.”
Griffith wanted the team to travel somewhere interesting and educational. The team has two players from Spain, Mary Lobon and Noa Comesaña, who were excited to experience their home country with their teammates, but at least one of the cities they visited, Seville, was new to them. Their parents came to the games, which was a proud moment for them. The trip even provided the coaches an opportunity to do some recruiting.
“There were so many team bonding moments,” said Griffith. “One of our games, we went out to dinner with another team. They were chatting the entire time. It didn’t matter who spoke Spanish or English, basketball is what brings us all together and creates these opportunities. That was such a metaphor for life and sports teaching life lessons.”
All the 13 players who made the trip got to play in the games, whether they have been starters or reserves during their collegiate seasons. A big takeaway for Griffith was how much some players have evolved just since the end of last season. Of course, additional skills were acquired during this trip, during which they had to adapt to a shorter shot clock and a difference in the court.
“It didn’t change a lot of what we do, but it increased and helped our quick thinking and making decisions under pressure and time,” Griffith said. “The game’s called different, so we had to adjust to that on their home turf. It was an opportunity to challenge our team to embrace the differences of the game. … They’re feeling really good after this trip.”