During spring break, the women’s volleyball team was able to travel to Puerto Rico for a week of competition, community, and connection. More than 20 years ago, both men’s and women’s volleyball teams made a similar trip to the Caribbean, traveling to Aruba in celebration of 100 years of volleyball. These opportunities have and continue to provide invaluable experiences for our student-athletes. With more than two decades between both team trips, we asked players from the 1995 and 2019 women’s volleyball teams to share with us what was most impressionable about their respective trips.

A Sense of Community

 

Bridget Walsh ‘20 (2019 trip to Puerto Rico) 

A team rule for Springfield College Women's Volleyball is no phones at team events or meals, which has truly benefited team connections including the coaches both on and off the court.

Moira Long, G ’97, head women’s volleyball coach (2019 trip to Puerto Rico)

We were all able to learn more about one another and understand each other on another level. This fosters our communication and helps us build on trust—two of our core values in the program.

Kim Nichols Hanlon ‘95 (1995 trip to Aruba)

To travel outside of the country together was truly special and the bond we had only grew stronger. We worked within the community while there, played lots of volleyball, and got to simply have fun in a way we typically do not outside of the season in a pretty remarkable setting!

Facing New Competition

 

Heather Somers ‘97, G’99 (1995 trip to Aruba)

I was on the team that transitioned between being Division II and in the Northeast 10 Conference to Division III and an independent. It was imperative for us to play out of region because we would only be able to get into the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid—there was no automatic qualifier for us. We needed to be able to play against the best teams in the region to prove our worth and strength to the selection committee.

Camryn Bancroft ‘21 (2019 trip to Puerto Rico)

Playing the same competition and the same type of style doesn't really improve you as an overall player. The way the Puerto Ricans interacted and played the game was way different from what we used to and challenged us, in a good way, to improve.

Kerri Lavoie (1995 trip to Aruba)

Not only are you experiencing a different level of competition, but you are also experiencing the culture around that sport in a foreign country.

 

In Service to Others

 

Heather MacRae ‘98 (1995 trip to Aruba)

It humbles you and makes you realize how much you do take for granted. In Aruba, the school’s gym we visited had walls and a roof that were not fully closed. I think it was even a dirt floor. We worked with the students and taught them about the game of volleyball. The students acted as if we were celebrities. I remember thinking: This is why we are here. Our trip was about sharing and teaching those who are less fortunate than us. Service is an important part of life and so much of what Springfield College is about.

Camryn Bancroft ‘21 (2019 trip to Puerto Rico)

It really makes you appreciate the facilities and the equipment that Springfield College provides for us. The gym of the Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico had no AC and a low net. But being able to go in clean the place top to bottom and watch the dirt that you’re moping away make a big difference was very rewarding.

 

A Memorable Experience

 

Joel Dearing ‘79, former women’s volleyball coach (1995 trip to Aruba)

When I have the chance at reunions to listen to our alumni from that trip, they always talk about the highly entertaining pre-match festivities, and the opportunity to play in an international beach tournament on the beaches of Aruba.  Perhaps the most significant memory they recall is standing on the endline prior to matches as the two national anthems were played.

Kim Nichols Hanlon ‘95 (1995 trip to Aruba)

We all got along so incredibly well, truly appreciated and enjoyed the unique opportunity we were given. We worked long days and enjoyed long nights playing volleyball under the lights and soaking up every moment together in another country, playing a sport we all loved with the locals.