Over fall break, when most students go home or catch up on sleep, the men’s basketball team went on a trip north to Canada, playing their first international matches in at least ten years. The team played Western Ontario University and Fanshawe College in a busy trip that also included visiting Niagara Falls and touring the city of Toronto, Canada. This is not the first time that Rangers have traveled abroad this year, as the men’s soccer team took a trip to Spain before preseason began. The NCAA allows teams to travel abroad to play once every three years, so most athletes will only be able to travel abroad once during their career, making the opportunity even more exciting for the players.
Planning for the trip was not easy, as Coach Keckler noted it took two years to plan the trip as well as the support of several generous alumni to make it happen. Keckler was inspired by other teams that have made similar trips in the past; he had heard great things about it and decided it was something he wanted his players to experience as well. He wanted to provide his players with “an experience they may not otherwise have,” and taking them abroad seem
ed like the perfect opportunity to do so.
Keckler found it especially rewarding for his players to interact with the Canadian players on the court when playing basketball and off the court before and after their games. When discussing the choice in destination of the trip, he said, “I am not sure how many of our guys will ever visit Canada on their own, so being able to provide that experience is special.” Keckler is especially grateful for the generous support of the program’s alumni, as they are a large reason that this trip was able to happen in the first place.
Besides providing them with cross-cultural experiences, traveling abroad allowed the Rangers to start practicing earlier than normal to prepare for their games. This has helped the team prepare for their season-opening against FDU on Tuesday, Nov. 13, as Keckler says, “We are definitely starting official practice ahead of where we usually are at this point in the season.” This should bode well for the team that finished 16-11 in the regular season and 9-5 in Landmark Conference play, qualifying for both Landmark Conference playoffs as well as ECAC playoffs.
The team is hopeful that their work and experience will pay off this season, as they seek to build on last year’s successes with another Landmark Conference bid.