Monday, June 17, 2019

Ciao Italia

TigerBlog has never been to Italy.


Back in 1974, TB found himself on a trip to Israel, Turkey and Greece with his family. There was just one little problem.

Also in 1974, Turkey and Greece found themselves in something of a war after the Turks invaded Cyprus. That was in July, which just happened to be when TB was in Istanbul, trying to get to Athens.

As a result, the flight between cities was cancelled. And nobody in Turkey was really in all that much of a hurry to get the Americans to Greece.

Eventually, the Italians got involved. Well, not diplomatically. There was a flight from Istanbul to Rome and then Rome to Athens, so that's how TB and his family got there. His most vivid memory of the whole thing was the wild cab ride to the Istanbul airport, just in time to make the flight, and the cabbie who 1) nearly was responsible for about 10 accidents on the way and 2) flipped off everyone he almost ran off the road.

TigerBlog is interested in whether his brother remembers it the same way. Since he knows his brother reads this, but not everyday, it'll be interesting to see how long it takes him to say something about it. Hey, this is a good test for him.

His cousin Janet? She reads every day.

Anyway, does being at a gate in the Rome airport 45 years ago for less than an hour count as being in Italy? If it does, then TB has also been to France, since he stopped in the Paris airport on the way to Tel Aviv on that trip.

You know who actually has been to Italy? A group of 66 Princeton athletes this weekend.

Breaking that group down, you get to 65 track and field athletes and one basketball player.

Bella Alarie is the one basketball player. Bella, the two-time reigning Ivy League Player of the Year who will attempt to become the fourth three-time winner this coming season, is playing with USA Basketball in a series of 3 on 3 competitions, most recently in China and, this past weekend, in Turin, Italy.

Turin is north and west of Rome by about 450 miles. It's about an hour drive from Turin to the town of Biella, by the way.

The U.S. team is comprised of Alarie, Charli Collier (Texas), Aleah Goodman (Oregon State) and Christyn Williams (Connecticut). Alarie will also be playing for the U.S. team at the Pan Am Games in Peru in early August.

In the stop this weekend, the Americans finished third, going 3-2 in their eight games. France won the event, followed by the host Italians.

You think that experience is valuable? Or that she'll ever forget the summer she played all over the world?

As for the other 65 athletes, they're representing the men's and women's track and field programs on an international trip to Italy. NCAA rules allow teams to take an international trip once every four years, and the track and field teams are taking advantage of that opportunity now.

TigerBlog has been on three such trips, all with the men's lacrosse team, going to Spain and Ireland, Costa Rica and most recently Portugal.

As for the track and field teams, they left Saturday for Rome, with later stops to come in Milan and Florence. There will be two competitions, one in Rome and one in Milan.

These trips are amazing experiences. They're a chance to compete and practice, yes, but they're so much more than that.

It's a chance to spend time with your teammates, immerse yourself in local culture, be a tourist, have an educational experience - and in general get to do something special that will stay with you forever.

You can follow the Tigers during their trip on twitter and Instagram by going to @princetontrack on both. There's already some good stuff up there already.

Up for Day 2 is a practice and a trip to the Colosseum.

TigerBlog knew the track and field team was headed to Italy. He also knew that there was a stop in Italy for Bella Alarie. He didn't quite realize they were both the same weekend until he looked a little closer.

Princeton University is a great place, as TB wrote last week when he talked about his tour guide experience. But there's also a big world out there.

To have the chance to explore it is a great part of that Princeton experience.

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