Women's Basketball Diary - Maggie O'Hara

Aug. 25, 2006


Tonight we had our first game of the trip. The final score was 105-44...yes, of course we won! We traveled to the medieval town of Palestrina about an hour from Rome, passing by villas and vineyards. The other team invited us to come celebrate with them at a festival and we were all very excited to hang out with them after the game...until we heard that the plan was to have a festival and then play our game as the culminating event at about 11:00 pm. We said grazi, but no. Instead we played at 6, and then went out to a three course dinner.

The roads in the city are narrow and winding in such a way that we couldn't believe the bus was able to fit. At one switchback we spent 5 minutes making a twenty point turn, backing up and going forward, all the while blocking a line of about 30 miniature cars and several mopeds. Finally, the bus came to a stop at the top of a hill and let us out in a neighborhood of brightly colored flats and homes. We stopped for a moment to look around and wondered where in the world there could be a gym. We finally found the gym nestled at the edge of a hill, and when we stepped inside I could have sworn I had gone back to middle school. The gym was so small compared to what we are used to playing in, but definitely more intimate. We passed by the other team on our way to the locker room and they smiled and laughed with (at?) us saying 'Ciao, Ciao.'

Before the game began both teams were introduced (Dom introduced our team) and lined up on the baseline. They played what sounded like a 1930's rendition of both the American and Italian national anthems over the loudspeaker. We walked to half court and greeted the players of the other team, practicing the wide range of Italian words that we know: Ciao, Ciao Bella and Grazi. We gave them some Washington wristbands and received some sugar cookies during the gift exchange, and then began the game.

It was fun to finally play again with the team. We played four ten minute quarters and sweat about 2 gallons each because it is so humid here. At half time we met outside to get some fresh air, along with a handful of Italians who needed to have a smoke. June warned us before the game that the refs were going to call a lot of traveling violations. We quickly discovered that we could square up, or make a drop step and get called for a travel, but the other team could jump between two defenders and still take a couple steps for a lay-in and that was okay. We just laughed and kept playing.

I thought we did a good job considering we aren't quite adjusted to being here yet. Bre and Stef might want to consider making a 12 hour flight and some jet lag a new pre-game ritual, because they tore it up. Everyone else had their moments to shine as well, and we were all able to laugh at the non-verbal communication that was taking place between us, the other team and the refs.

We are off to Florence tomorrow, which we are very excited about. I know there are some people who are anxiously anticipating the shopping (June, Ashley, AJ). Rome is a magnificent city and I am sad to leave. It's so strange to be in a place where the time frame of the buildings and monuments is commonly referenced as being either before or after Christ.

We all feel extremely fortunate to be in this beautiful country. Every once in a while one of us will turn to another and say 'wow, I can't believe we are actually in Italy right now.'

Hope you are all doing well. We look forward to sharing this experience with you more when we return. Janet, I'm working on my push step. We all miss you.


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