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China: A Look Back with Women's Hoops
Play Video Valpo spent 10 days in China this past August. (Todd Fleischhauer)
Valpo spent 10 days in China this past August. (Todd Fleischhauer)

Friday, September 23, 2011

When Mallory Ladd was preparing to make the 275-mile move from her home in Evansville, Ind., to the Valparaiso campus for her freshman year, she was also packing for a 7,000 mile trip around world.

“Wow, it is hard to believe that a month and a half ago I was walking across the stage for my high school graduation to receive my diploma, and suddenly I am two days away from leaving the country,” said Ladd, an incoming member of the women’s basketball team and a criminology major. “Getting the chance to go to China is so amazing. Coming in as a freshman, and getting an opportunity like this is so unreal.”

Ladd and 13 teammates on the Valpo women’s basketball team – along with head coach Keith Freeman, associate head coach Greg Kirby, and assistant coaches Kelly Komara and Steve Helm – embarked on the journey to the other side on the globe on Aug. 6 – the trip beginning with a nearly 15-hour flight.

“Sleep was the best way to pass the time, so that’s what most of us did,” said senior Betsy Adams of Monticello, Ind. “When we landed in Shanghai we had to wait on a couple of bags and we all noticed our swollen feet and ankles. I guess that’s what sitting down for over 15 hours can do to you.”

After getting settled in their Hangzhou hotel, one of the first things the team did was share their skills in basketball clinics with local children.

“When teaching basketball to non-English speaking basketball players, there are two words you can count on making absolute sense to everyone present: Michael Jordan,” said sophomore Tabitha Gerardot, of Fort Wayne, Ind.  “No amount of shouting, perfect pronunciation, or exaggerated expressions helped the aspiring Chinese athletes I was working with as much as that universal name.”  

The trip featured a number of special practices, and basketball games against Zhejiang University of Technology and Zhejiang Chouzhou, a professional team.

“Basketball in China was a whole new game,” said senior Laura Richards of Connersville, Ind. “Even to understand what the other team was doing when they are communicating in a different language was all a new experience for us.”

“They run and gun and are very intense,” said Adams. “I think it was definitely a great learning experience that will better prepare us for some of the teams we face this upcoming season.”

Beyond the basketball games and experience itself, team members said the trip was a memorable bonding opportunity.

“When you go through new experiences – even things like eating new foods – you really bond because you are in a world that is so different, you really feel all the similarities with each other,” said Gerardot.

During their time in China, team members were able to visit the beautiful West Lake area of Hangzhou as well as a Buddhist Temple, and the Forbidden City and Great Wall in Beijing.

Richards said, looking back as a senior now, the trip has been a capstone to her Valpo experience.

“It’s been a wonderful experience … you get to go new places, meet new people, and our coaching staff will help you with anything, they are always there for you,” said Richards. “Being at Valpo has been a great opportunity, and a blessing for me in very aspect.”

W Golf Crusader/Jaguar Challenge Valparaiso, Ind. (The Course at Aberdeen)
Apr 13 2nd/6 (657); 5th/6 (692)
M Golf Bluegrass Invitational Lexington, Ky. (University Club Big Blue Course)
Apr 13 t-6th/13 (895)
Softball Cleveland State 6 8 inn.
Apr 13 Valpo 7
W Tennis Valpo 1 Rochester, Mich.
Apr 13 Oakland 6
M Tennis Valpo 1 Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 13 #12 Notre Dame 6
W Tennis Valpo 0 Chicago, Ill.
Apr 14 Chicago State 7
M Tennis Valpo 7 Homewood, Ill.
Apr 15 Chicago State 0
Baseball Valpo CCD
Apr 15 Toledo
M Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
W Track Cougar Invitational River Forest, Ill.
Apr 17 No Team Score
Baseball Valpo 4 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 17 Milwaukee 0
M Tennis Youngstown State 1 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 6
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 18 Milwaukee 3
Softball Oakland 3 VU Softball Field
Apr 18 Valpo 11
W Tennis Youngstown State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 18 Valpo 0
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 19 CCD
M Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 2nd/3 (191)
W Track DePaul Invitational Chicago, Ill.
Apr 19 3rd/5 (82)
W Tennis Cleveland State 7 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 0
Softball Oakland 1 VU Softball Field
Apr 19 Valpo 2
Baseball Valpo 0 Milwaukee, Wis.
Apr 19 Milwaukee 5
Softball Oakland 4 8 inn.
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Tennis Cleveland State 5 Valpo Tennis Complex
Apr 19 Valpo 2
M Golf Wolfpack Spring Open Raleigh, N.C. (Lonnie Poole Golf Course)
Apr 20 12th/15 (314)
Baseball Kalamazoo 3 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 21 Valpo 10
Baseball Ohio Northern 2 Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 22 Valpo 1
Softball Valpo 3 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 1
Softball Valpo 5 Macomb, Ill.
Apr 22 Western Illinois 4
Softball Valpo Notre Dame, Ind.
Apr 24, 5:00 p.m. Notre Dame
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 25
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 25
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 25, 2:00 p.m. UIC
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 25, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 26, 3:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
M Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
W Track Miami (Ohio) Invitational Oxford, Ohio
Apr 26
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 26
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 26, 2:00 p.m. Wright State
M Tennis Valpo Ann Arbor, Mich.
Apr 27, 2:00 p.m. Horizon League Tournament
W Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
M Golf Horizon League Championship Howey in the Hills, Fla. (Mission Inn Resort & Club)
Apr 27
Softball Valpo Dayton, Ohio
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Wright State
Baseball UIC Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 27, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Western Michigan Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball IUPUI VU Softball Field
Apr 29, 5:00 p.m. Valpo
Baseball Chicago State Emory G. Bauer Field
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 3:00 p.m. Indiana (resumption of suspended game)
Softball Valpo Bloomington, Ind.
Apr 30, 4:00 p.m. Indiana
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 2
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 2, 3:00 p.m. Valpo
M Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
W Track Horizon League Outdoor Championships Youngstown, Ohio
May 3
Baseball Oakland Emory G. Bauer Field
May 3, 12:00 p.m. Valpo
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 1:00 p.m. Green Bay
Softball Valpo Green Bay, Wis.
May 3, 3:00 p.m. Green Bay