The VCU SportsCenter traveled to Europe for ten days in late April to participate in the European Model of Sport class. SportsCenter students were exposed to many cultural differences as they visited Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Some of the cultural differences included hotel rooms, since they were smaller than those in America and had beds which were smaller and were often pushed together to make one large bed. The food in Europe was another cultural difference which required some adjustments by the students. The portions were much smaller because Europeans prefer to eat multiple small meals throughout the day instead of two or three large meals.
The trip to Europe was composed of guest lectures from numerous leading professionals in the international sport community, as well as tours of multiple sport facilities. The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, Roland Garros in Paris, France, and the Ajax stadium in Amsterdam, Netherlands, were some of the sport facilities that were toured. Guest lecturers included Charles Urbanus, Dutch National Baseball team coach at the Sydney Olympics; Wim de Wit, professional soccer player at Ajax, who played with Johan Cruyff for 10 years; and Martin Schimke, who works for the court of arbitration for sport (CAS) in Amsterdam.
Students watched a professional basketball game between Paris Levallois and Le Mans in Paris and also attended two professional soccer games, one in Germany between 1860 Munchen and Sud Unterrang, and another in the Netherlands between Ajax and Heerenveen. Students also had free time to explore Europe on their own and were even able to enjoy the Queens Day celebrations on April 30 in Zwolle, Netherlands.
One of the VCU SportsCenter students, Rob Riley, was offered a contract to play professional baseball in Dordrecht, Netherlands and he eagerly signed. Riley will be returning to Europe on Thursday May 15, 2008 to begin his new career. He said, “This program [the VCU SportsCenter] has opened so many doors for me by allowing me to meet many people and make valuable connections.” He added, “This opportunity is awesome and I am excited about what this will lead to in the future!” The VCU SportsCenter wishes Riley the best of luck and will continue to follow his new career!
This trip to Europe would not have been possible without the countless hours of meticulous planning by Carrie Webster, Ph.D., at the VCU SportsCenter, and Gijs Langevoort, owner of Lancon in the Netherlands. All SportsCenter students who were fortunate enough to attend were grateful for the opportunity to travel abroad and will never forget the priceless knowledge they attained while on this trip! Brian Biggio, a VCU SportsCenter student, said, “The European Model of Sport has given me an insatiable thirst for worldly knowledge, which I consider invaluable.”
By: Greg Smith, VCU SportsCenter Class of 2008