The Texas A&M volleyball team will take a training trip to Europe in May, first-year head coach Laura “Bird” Kuhn announced. The Aggies will make stops in five different countries during their 12-day tour.
The Aggies will face several junior national teams and/or club teams during their three-night stays in both Prague, Czech Republic, and Maribor, Slovenia, as well as two-night stays in Croatia and Milan, Italy. The trip, made possible by the 12th Man Foundation and coordinated by Bring It Promotions, also includes a daytrip to Vienna, Austria, and an overnight stay in Venice, Italy.
With this being Kuhn’s first semester with her new team, which includes nine returning letterwinners and a redshirt transfer as well as five freshmen who graduated high school early and enrolled at Texas A&M for the spring semester, the trip couldn’t have come at a better time.
“The timing of this trip, going to Europe with our five new freshmen and our team, all of us getting to know each other, is going to be perfect for our competitive confidence and the chemistry of the team,” Kuhn said. “I’ve been on a couple of these trips with other teams, and it is so awesome to see the growth as individuals and as a team, competitively, so I’m super excited for this group.”
In addition to the benefits of competing during what is typically the off-season, Kuhn knows the players will gain a special appreciation for the team bonding experiences as well as the encounters with the variety of cultures while sightseeing at the different destinations.
“The setup that Bring It Promotions has, it is so special,” Kuhn said. “It is such a cool experience, and that is why I encouraged this when I took this job because I know how much it is going to help this group, both competitively and as a team, as a unit, all of us getting to know each other.”
The NCAA allows teams to take one foreign tour every four years, and matches must be against teams outside the United States. Texas A&M’s most recent foreign tour was to Europe in 2008, when outside hitter Sarah Ammerman was entering her junior season with the Aggies. The former All-American, who played professionally in Puerto Rico, Slovenia and Germany following her A&M career, has been leading tours for Bring It Promotions since 2012 and will serve as the Aggies’ tour guide throughout the trip.
“So Sarah Ammerman, the woman, the myth the legend—I’ve seen her [photo] every day when I walk [into Reed Arena]—but what is going to be so cool is that she is going to be our tour guide,” Kuhn said. “I’ve emailed her and gotten to know her a little bit, but I cannot wait to get to know her and her to get to know our new team and show us all over Europe.”
The team is currently in its spring training season, which goes through April 25. After finals end on May 8, the team will regroup for two days of practices before departing College Station on May 11. They arrive in Prague on May 12 and return to Aggieland on May 23.
“We just want to really thank our administration and the 12th Man Foundation for making this possible,” Kuhn added. “It is going to be a great experience, and we cannot wait to bring back all of our experience to the Aggie Network.”