The trip has concluded, and we're finally back in Atlanta for a short break before the semester begins. Time sure does fly! This will be my third year at Georgia State and the second time we've gone out of the country. This most recent trip to Spain was definitely eventful and most of it has been chronicled in my other blog posts. But more than the games, the food, tours, the boat rides out in the Mediterranean (which was definitely awesome!!), the most memorable moments I'll have from this trip were the ones I had with my teammates.
As I reflected on in my second post, we lost our first game, but not without taking anything from it. Relationships are built and strengthened through adversity. Even though we failed in our mission of winning the first game, we still learned a lot about each other through the adversity we went through together while on the court. An example of this is when one of my teammates was really struggling the first game with his shooting and just in his performance overall. I built a whole new respect for him when he was able to push through that tough time and bounce back with a great performance the next game in a much more hostile environment. The next game was intense for everybody because of the environment we were in. That might have been one of the hottest gyms I've EVER played in. But the fact that all of us were able to push through that time together and come out with the victory left a lasting impression on me, and I feel like it spoke to our team's resiliency.
Another memory I'll always have with this group of guys is the day we went to do missionary work for the more underprivileged children in Barcelona. It was very eye-opening for me to see the way all of my teammates were interacting with the children and how diligent and caring they were when washing their feet and giving them shoes. It was beautiful to watch and allowed me to see a different side from them. How can you not want to go to war with a guy who's able to humble himself to willingly wash a child's feet?!
Overall this trip was amazing and definitely one for the memory books. I'm very thankful to be in a position to go on a trip like that and also be able to share my experiences with you guys while there. Thank you to all who've read these blogs! Thank you to anyone who showed an interest if not in what I have to say, then at least what's going on with the best basketball team in the country (*wink wink). Trying to speak that one into existence. Also be on the lookout for Georgia State men's basketball this year coming up!
Jordan Tyson - Senior
Day 5 – Shoes and Hope on a Sunday in Spain
The easiest way to describe Sunday in Barcelona is SUCCESS. Early this morning, the team took a 30-minute bus ride to hopefully change the lives of some young children by delivering hope and a new pair of shoes with Samaritan’s Feet. As we have said from the beginning of this trip, basketball was always going to be a small part of it, but the life lessons our student-athletes could learn would be the most important part.
In a small town on the outside of Barcelona, the 30-member travel party celebrated a first for Spain…the first-ever shoe distribution for Samaritan’s Feet. It may not have been large in size, but it very well may have changed the future for many more children than we will ever know.
The distribution lasted for about 90 minutes. While some children were receiving shoes others were taking part in a basketball clinic put on by the players. There were smiles all around, including on the faces of many of the parents who came out with their children.
I can say I have been blessed to do and be a part of a lot of cool things at Georgia State, but getting to see the smile on the face of a young child is something that never gets old and the photos I take will never do it justice.
After the distribution was over, many thank you’s were said by both sides. Before heading back to the hotel the team stopped for a tour of Sagrada Família, a large unfinished Roman Catholic church in Barcelona. You see, as I mentioned earlier, this trip is more than just about basketball. It is allowing student-athletes to see the world and understand the history that for so many they just read about in books.
Now it’s off to play some basketball!
Day 4 – Flight from Madrid to Barcelona and Fat Bike Tour
It was an early wake-up call for #LosPanthers on Saturday morning as Georgia State headed from Madrid to Barcelona. Following a short one-hour flight to the east coast of Spain, the Panthers ate lunch before checking into their hotel.
A unique thing going on right now in most of Europe is a major heat wave. Cities are doing rolling power outages to help offset the need for power and it for a brief time interrupted the Panthers lunch.
After checking into the hotel, the Panthers went out for a tour of Barcelona. The group split up into three groups of 10 for a Fat Bike Tour of the Barcelona.
The two-plus hour excursion took the Panthers throughout the city seeing many unique things. Ironically, Barcelona was the host city for the 1992 Olympics, just four years before Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics. Among the Olympic buildings that were seen on the tour were the Olympic Village, security tower and the beach which was completely redone for the games.
After a quick dinner, the Panthers will be off to bed as a busy Sunday awaits the team. The morning will start with a shoe distribution with Samaritan’s Feet, the first one ever in Spain. After a little rest in the afternoon, Georgia State will take on the Matero All-Stars on Sunday night.
Good night from Spain!
Day 2 – Tour of Real Madrid Bernabeu Stadium and Seeing Madrid
On day two of our trip to Spain, we woke up to a pretty good continental breakfast with traditional Spanish food. It was only after everyone got a long night sleep after our red-eye flight to Madrid which felt really good.
After that, we headed over to Real Madrid Bernabeu Stadium which was unreal. The size of it was incredible. It seemed bigger than any stadium I have seen before. The tour was really nice. We learned about the history of Real Madrid Sports Club and how they have been a dominant organization for so long. We saw trophies, jerseys and much more. They then took us to the state-of-the-art locker room, before allowing us to go out onto the field. All the guys took a ton of photos for social media. We also had a bunch of little kids coming us to us which was really neat. We took a bunch of photos of them as well.
After the stadium tour, we got a quick bite to eat before heading back to the hotel in the early afternoon. We actually had pizza for lunch, but it was a lot different than what we have at home. With that said, it was really good.
As for the afternoon,
Now it is time for us to start preparing for our first game. We had a really good practice yesterday and are ready to face the Madrid
Thanks for following along Panther fans!
Day 1 – Arrival in Madrid, Spain
Following an overnight direct flight from Atlanta to Madrid, the Panthers landed around 8:30 a.m. CEST (2:30 a.m. ET). It was a smooth flight with most of the team either watching movies or sleeping.
Upon landing and picking up luggage, Georgia State met their tour guide for a bus tour of Madrid. The first stop was a traditional Spanish breakfast that consisted of meat, potatoes, fresh fruit and lots of water as the high temperature in Madrid is currently over 100 degrees.
After breakfast, the Panthers walked across the street to see the Plaza de Toros where bullfighting and concerts occur. From there the team headed out to see multiple monuments and parks before checking into the hotel in the early afternoon.
Following some rest, the team got in a one-hour practice to get their legs back under them in preparation for the first game on Friday. After practice, it was time for dinner which was a Spanish-American buffet consisting of everything from seafood to pasta.
Several members of the squad then headed out to walk around some of Madrid, which this time of year kind of feels a little like Times Square in New York.
Until Thursday Panther fans!
Mike Holmes, Associate A.D. for Sports Communications