Oregon soccer visits the Great Wall of China to conclude China tour

BEIJING – After six days and two games in China, the Oregon women's soccer team traveled to the Great Wall. The Great Wall of China stretches over 13,171 miles, from Dandong to the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. 

Because of weather concerns, the wall wasn’t open for climbing but players were able to view the wall from the ground and take photos.

“My favorite part of the trip had to be going to the Great Wall,” said senior midfielder Miranda Schulz. “To be able to say that I’ve been to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, with my family, my second family, is pretty amazing even if we didn’t get to walk it.”

The team ended their final day on tour with a farewell banquet hosted by the Federation for University Sports in China, featuring Beijing’s famous Peking Duck, a roasted duck dish. As Oregon prepares for their flight back to the U.S., several players reflected on their favorite memories from the tour.

“For my first time traveling abroad, my favorite part was seeing how they use different ways of getting around and comparing what we have and they have,” said sophomore defender Alyssa Hinojosa. “For example, with transportation, they have a lot of bikes in Beijing and we use a lot of cars. It’s cool to see how efficient they are here. I also really like all the food here in Beijing. My favorite food was an aged pork dish. 

Junior defender Brianne Parsons answered, “The acrobatics last night was pretty phenomenal. To me, those people literally put their lives on the line to entertain other people and it was crazy to see the bending some of the performers were doing so easily. I can’t imagine touching my toes let alone putting my feet completely over my head.”

Head coach Kat Mertz reflected on the team’s tour, “It’s been a really amazing experience for all of us. It far exceeded my expectations and we’re just hoping we can use this momentum going into the fall to just play for each other. When you look at the teams that win championships, especially at Oregon, they’re good teammates, they play for each other, they play with heart and you can see that love for each other on the field. Hopefully we can learn a little bit about each other and carry that forward to the season.”

The tour also had an impact on the Ducks’ future plans. “I traveled a little bit before,” said Parsons, “but this trip definitely makes me want to go to more Asian countries and get out to see other cultures. We’re really in a bubble at home and I think this just shows that you need to get out of the bubble more.”

“I’ve always wanted to travel but before this trip, I had said it would be for pleasure,” said Schulz. "We’re here for soccer, so I realized I would love traveling and working. I’m in the medical field and hoping to do clinical lab science. Now that I’ve been on this amazing trip, I know that I have the confidence to go somewhere like Beijing to do clinical lab science if I had the opportunity to. This trip made me realize I could travel for anything: to visit family, to work, or do any job.”

Sophomore Alyssa Hinojosa talked about how this trip has impacted her academic plans. “Actually during the trip, I called my academic advisor because I wasn’t originally supposed to take a language in college but after this trip, I’ve decided I’m going to continue with Spanish because I’ve seen how useful language skills can be.”

When asked what she hoped her team has learned from their China tour, Coach Mertz replied, “The biggest thing is to be open to all cultures and really understand that everyone comes from a different background and we all have different stories to tell. I think if we can just learn a little bit about each other and grow as an individual, it’s going to carry you forward in life, not only soccer. And that’s what college soccer is about, you’re preparing yourself for the next chapter in your life.”

The Ducks will travel back to Eugene on Sunday morning, Beijing time.