The Pac-12 Volleyball Team Conquers the Great Wall and Kicks Off the Beijing Tournament

BEIJING, China – The sun was shining as the Pac-12 Volleyball All-Star team began to scale the Great Wall of China, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. The wall stretches 13,170 miles from east to west of China and the team hiked one of the more popular sections called Badaling.

The tour guide offered words of wisdom before beginning the climb: “There’s the hard part of the wall and then there’s the even harder part of the wall.” Taking in the view, a few of the athletes shared their impressions of the Great Wall and it’s challenging incline.

“It’s kind of surreal,” said BreElle Bailey from Arizona State. “It’s completely amazing and better than I thought it would be. This has definitely inspired me to travel and see other parts of the world.”

When asked how far she’d climbed as the team rested about halfway up, she answered, ”I’ve definitely climbed over 1,000 steps so far.” Walking with tourists from all over the world, the players were frequently asked for photos with passersby.

“It’s awesome because it’s one of the wonders of the world and it’s cool that I can mark it off my bucket list,” said Colorado’s Gabby Simpson. “The view is amazing, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m really happy that I could come and see it and it makes me want to see more iconic international sights.”

Later that evening, the team gathered with the U.S. Collegiate National team for a joint press conference prior to the start of their Beijing tournament.

A majority of the questions were directed at the American coaches and players. Members of the Chinese media asked about the popularity of volleyball in American and how the players balance being a student and an athlete.

“For me and in America, we try to teach players life lessons that they can use after their time on the court,” said UCLA’s head coach Mike Sealy.

The Pac-12 team will face off against the Bayi Army, a professional volleyball team from Beijing, tomorrow afternoon at 4pm, Beijing time.

The tour is another milestone for Pac-12 Global, an initiative to promote goodwill and transformative life experiences through student-athlete exchanges and sport, and to showcase the Conference and its member institutions in China. Student-athlete tours have been organized in the sports of men’s and women’s basketball, as well as women’s volleyball. Coaching clinics have also been organized with Pac-12 coaches sharing their knowledge of sport with Chinese groups both abroad in China and at member campuses, as well as hosting exhibition games with some of China’s top teams in women’s volleyball and women’s soccer. This past November, the Conference hosted the Pac-12 China Game in Shanghai, becoming the first ever league - college or professional - to host a regular season basketball game in China. For more information about Pac-12 Global, visit http://pac-12.com/global.