Seven hours of crazy drive on Tuesday evening, destination – Aberystwyth; spectacular win 21:53 on Wednesday afternoon; an exceptional night out in the Welsh SU featuring white affair theme from RHUL the same night; and finally, five hours of quiet drive on Thursday afternoon, destination – Egham… Home, sweet home….
Such has been the Lady Bears Basketball Team’s schedule this week: pretty packed and intense, but exciting too! The team has been remarkably successful in the matches against other BUSA League counterparts, coming off second-best with a sole loss to the Bedfordshire team. However, the season’s games have not ended there: second place in the league has enabled ladies to proceed to an advanced level, an invitation to the “sweet sixteen” of the BUSA Shield National Knockouts, and meet players of other teams for the playoffs. Thus, RHUL Bears have acquired an opportunity to travel all the way to a beautiful part of western Wales to check out the capabilities and skills of the rival Welsh team, winners of the South West division, representing the town the name of which you may never pronounce correctly from the first. Nevertheless, however remote Aberystwyth (or simply Aber) proved to be, it amazed girls with the picturesque views of the coast, cute multicoloured coastal accommodation halls, old ruins of some unique historic monuments, unusually sunny weather and unbelievably low prices.
Arrival time at Aber – 10pm. The residence hall is facing the sea which cannot be seen already but only heard. Cosy flats within the block accommodate six people each, so team-mates remain highly involved into indefatigable interaction. Although the seven-hour trip has proved unbearably tiring for a minor part of the team who went to bed straight away, the majority of ladies and their coach continued into the morning with some kitchen fun – pasta panic (a more exciting form of a Twister), card games and lots of laughing. The town was still waiting for the ladies to come…
Wednesday morning celebrated brief discussions of the plans for the day. The schedule’s short: two hours for the exploration of the surroundings, two hours for a captain-cooked joint lunch, two hours for securing a win in the game and the rest of the day dedicated to nothing but fun, fun and fun. The first part of the plan has not deviated in any way and ladies managed to take the best out of the walk on the promenade: climbing anything that may be climbed, laughing at everything that may be laughed at, taking numerous photos and, considering the respective noise they produced, attracting the attention of each and every single person. The following part of the schedule seemed to work out pretty smoothly, too… until the fire-alarm went off. Yeah, under the leadership of the captain professionally mastering innumerable saucepans, girls got a bit carried away and found themselves in a too ‘smoky’ excitement which caused the immediate outburst of annoying siren and… well, everyone may certainly guess what happened afterwards. The unexpected incident forced the girls outside where they had to spend countless minutes in the sunshine admiring the beauty of the high tide, awaiting the fire brigade and by all means making the fire alarm instigators’ identities obvious to other residents of the hall. Their coach was yet away and could only assume that his players were peacefully consuming some delicious pasta meals. So, as is evident, once things were back to normal again and girls finally got inside after a short conversation with the warden, this bit of plan had to be amended by an increased chewing speed and frantic haste in packing bags.
The most important part of the schedule, however, could not have been more precise and consistent: Bears scored a glorious victory over the Aber team – 21:53. Already in the first quarter ladies have shutout the opponents with their determination and distinctive teamwork which largely contributed to their defensive strategy and essentially weakened and morally and physically discouraged the Aber team players. Throughout the game the girls successfully kept the team spirit on its height despite a number of injuries which were momentarily dealt with under supervision of a trained physiotherapist and a supporter of the Bears team, 2 in 1. Hence, the coach was pretty much satisfied with the team’s efforts and managed to, more or less, enjoy the action on the court. Moreover, the match may be said to have been relatively ‘quiet’ for it lacked unnecessary aggression and rage on the part of both teams; to the Lady Bears’ particular astonishment, the Aber team did not just provide a player-wise peaceful and fair game, but human-wise off-court overwhelming friendliness, which, unfortunately, does not go without saying in relations with all teams. Although having lost, our Welsh rivals eagerly offered their English counterparts to join them at one of the local pubs for a drink right after the game and met up in the Students Union where they kindly signed Bears in later the same evening.
It should be pointed out that the Lady Bears decided beforehand to stick to the themed Wednesday party back in RHUL featuring white affair and thoroughly selected suitable clothing items prior to the departure from home, consequently, Welsh students dressed up in some colourful mix of casual outfit were stuck by the presence of angel like bunch of attractive girls wearing all white. Obviously, they were fascinated even more after our girls put the dance-floor on fire with some hot moves, original style and the ongoing spiritual interconnectedness which everyone could easily acknowledge with just one look by the end of the night. That is what is called team-work in its purest essence: success of the team is achieved and shared both on and off court, and may indeed be secured if players balance their relationship and remain a team even without a ball.
The way home was surprisingly short and quick, or so it seemed, however, girls were glad to see the dearest Founders Hall with its Clock Tower and other features of familiar environment.
As the story comes to an end, the obvious conclusion comes that the Lady Bears hit the court, hit the town, hit Wales and brought the well-deserved victory back to old England. However, it is nothing more but only the end of their Welsh experience, because less than a week is left before their next journey to Portsmouth where they’ll meet another team for the ‘elite eight’ round of the playoffs and further struggle for the title of the best team… This means that another road-trip is ahead. And fighting. And coach’s passionate instructions. And fun.
Total twelve hours of drive on the route Egham – Aberystwyth - Egham were undoubtedly justified in the spectacular win game featuring unprecedented motivation of the players. The long lasting impressions from the trip contain the team unity practice since the journey had provided girls with a fantastic opportunity to socialise even tighter and know each even better while proving to everyone else that basketball is not only about sports.