Garnet and Global Central will be your timeline of events to follow as Florida State Women’s Basketball goes on its 10-day foreign tour to Italy (Aug. 6-12) and Spain (Aug. 13-16).
Tuesday, August 15
Consider this a farewell notice to Barcelona, a city that has really impressed us all. As redshirt sophomore forward Kiah Gillespie mentioned, it’s a beautiful city with beautiful people. So much to do, so much to see, so much to offer. And we’ve really taken it all in.
In our final day in Spain, we went to Blanes and got to see where our redshirt freshman forward Iho Lopez is from. What a way of life she has lived! The water is gorgeous, the food is phenomenal, the whole city is picturesque. We really enjoyed seeing the upbringing of Iho and where she came from. It’s very important for Coach Sue to see what her student-athlete’s cultures are all about – today meant a lot to her.
We had a great lunch in Blanes, a lunch that once again emphasized sitting down, conversating, taking your time and enjoying your time together. The meals came in courses and did not disappoint. All the meats, cheeses, fish, etc. were so tasteful. It was a successful day in Blanes!
Between Italy and Spain, it was a trip of a lifetime. Thank you to Florida State Director of Athletics/Vice President Stan Wilcox for allowing this trip to happen – we sharpened our skills and camaraderie on the court while bonding together and seeing a new culture away from it. It’s very important for younger, impressionable teenagers to see the way of life of other cultures. At Florida State Women’s Basketball, we’ve become quite a melting pot of U.S. players and international players. We embrace that. And it’s important we embrace each other.
Hopefully this Garnet and Global timeline has allowed you to follow along quite well with all of our activities. We’ve also been keeping our fans updated non-stop on social media. It was another successful Foreign Tour trip, another one we won’t soon forget. The season begins in less than three months! Our date with UNF on Friday, Nov. 10, cannot come soon enough!
Ciao and Adiós to our fans, and to everyone that has been so graceful to us in Italy and Spain, especially our travel guides, bus drivers, Basketball Travelers Inc., etc. You all made this trip what it was: an enormous success.
Monday, August 14
By redshirt sophomore forward Kiah Gillespie
So we’ve wrapped up eight days into our Foreign Tour trip to Italy and Spain. It’s been everything I could ask for and more. Personally, I think it was really important. I think it was a blessing that I got to play with the five seniors that are actually leaving – having an opportunity to play with them before they go off. I get to watch them the whole year coming up as a redshirt, but it’s also been great playing with the people that I will play with next year. I thought it was very important to get a feel for everything. It was fun to be out there and feel the energy in our three games and have the confidence that they made me feel. They made me feel welcome being in a new place.
In terms of my individual performances against teams from Naples, Sicily and Barcelona, I would say I’m never satisfied. I’m happy to be here. I’m so happy they accepted me. The thing that is important to me is how much information the coaching staff gave me. Moving forward the things I want to focus on for my game are my defensive abilities. The offense comes naturally to me but I still want to work on that – I was always a good offensive scorer but want to improve as a defender. Once I learn to do that, I can help us be a great team, and hopefully we can be unstoppable.
I think our game vs. Barcelona on Sunday, which we won 106-65, was real important for us. In the first half me and some others got in foul trouble, and it became known that the officials call a very tight game in Spain. It was important to perhaps see some of the things that we might see this year when we go on the road, when we’re playing in tough environments like Louisville, Duke, etc. I think it helped us get a mindset for what we could see. Playing overseas is something that I may want to do someday, so it’s important to see that in Spain the physicality and calls are way different than the U.S. It was a great experience.
As far as ranking the places we’ve been, I would definitely go Barcelona first, the Amalfi Coast second and then Naples. I like Rome but it was very crowded, there was a lot of people and the driving was hectic. Barcelona is definitely my favorite – it’s a beautiful city with beautiful people and it’s not too hot, which is amazing. It’s definitely like New York City, when you’re in Times Square. It’s like right now we’re clearly in Manhattan with the high-end stores.
I’ve had a lot of fun taking pictures of my teammates – I think they love it. My pictures send straight to my phone so they’re always saying “You better send me those pictures!” I’ve had a great time practicing out here, but I am still trying to figure out the different shooting settings on my camera. It’s real fun and it makes me happy capturing pictures – they say it’s worth 1,000 words. That’s one of the best parts of coming to a place like Barcelona that is a beautiful place with beautiful people. You get to shoot everything and you see a happiness. I didn’t see one angry person here.
I have an iPhone and I have a camera, and there’s some pictures I take in portrait mode on my camera but then you take it with an iPhone and it’s like “Ok, this is cheating.” You can get this shot in 10 seconds and make people think you’re the best photographer ever, but when you have your regular camera and try to focus and make it a regular shot, I think it kind of cheats it a little bit. It can take a little bit of the fun out of photography. It’s a beginners’ luck thing. I think shooting with an actual camera is way more fun and takes more concentration.
In terms of what was my single-most favorite off-court activity this trip (so far), I really liked jet skiing today. I stepped out of my comfort zone because I don’t like water, I don’t like swimming usually. I had a great time at the water park even though I didn’t fully participate. I enjoyed seeing the fun my teammates had and capturing it through pictures. I think it was one of the best things we did.
One big takeway I have on this trip is there’s a chance I could be little Avery’s favorite player (Assistant Coach Brooke Wyckoff’s daughter). We started off in the beginning of the trip a little iffy, and I started off asking her if we had the same mom, joking of course. But Avery would say “No no, this is my mom.” But into day nine, we’ve got the same handshakes, the same mom (joking of course) and she calls me A-Kiah, which is my little nickname. I think I could be her favorite on the team. I think for the most part kids like me, I’m not sure what it is. But I do enjoy kids as well.
Tuesday is our last full day in Spain before we head back to Tallahassee on Wednesday. We get a chance to explore our teammate Iho Lopez’s home area of Girona. As a team we’re looking forward to it. For sure I’ll be shooting more pictures J
Sunday, August 13
It was one of those “WOW” days here in Barcelona. We did so many fun things. We started the day with a great breakfast buffet here at the Majestic Hotel and Spa. Then we went on a tour of the city, looking at the wonderful art, architecture and history of Barcelona. We visited the National Art Museum, the Olympic Stadium and other parts. Wherever we were, there were gorgeous views overlooking the city.
After a dynamic lunch, we locked in on a talented Barcelona All-Star squad. After being up just 24-23 through the first quarter, we ended up romping with a 106-65 win. Sophomore Nausia Woolfolk had 21 points and 12 rebounds in the victory, finishing with a 3-0 mark on our foreign trip!
Tonight was a special treat. After we won our game, we headed over to the highly-anticipated match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. We got to see goals by Leo Messi AND Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid won 3-1. Ronaldo also got two yellow cards, which equals a red card and an ejection! That was pretty entertaining, as well as the entire match.
There was a ton of great energy and passion inside the stadium tonight, and our student-athletes really fed off that. Nearly all of us wore FC Barcelona shirts or jerseys to support the city that has been so great to us so far. We’re looking forward to another couple great days before we leave!
Saturday, August 12
“On the road again” as they say, or in this case “In the air again.” We finished our stay in Italy and traveled to Barcelona in Spain. As a team, we’re very impressed with what we’ve already seen and tasted in Barcelona, but won’t forget the memories that the beautiful areas of Rome, Naples, Sorrento, The Amalfi Coast and Sicily brought us in Italy.
We arrived in Barcelona around 4:30 p.m. local time, and we’re staying at a gorgeous hotel right in the busy shopping district of the city. Barcelona is really a hopping city. Our tour guide has been fantastic so far in Barcelona, although we have to give a shout-out to our tour guide in Italy – his name is Mario. He was fantastic!
At 7 p.m. local time we settled down for a Spanish dinner. The food was phenomenal. The Spaniards eat so well. There was salmon, paella, veal, pasta, the sweetest and freshest fruit you can find, and other delicacies. Eating has not been a problem so far!
— FSU Women’s Hoops (@fsuwbb) August 12, 2017
Tomorrow we’ve got quite the day. We’re headed for a tour of the city in the late morning, which includes time spent at Las Ramblas. We’ve got our final international game against the Barcelona All-Stars. And later in the night, we’re going to the Real Madrid-FC Barcelona match! Professional football at its finest!
The opportunity to see how European football is consumed will be a treat. Americans believe their brand of football is the nation’s passion, and it truly is. But soccer in Europe is every bit as important, if not even more! It will be a treat.
Friday, August 11
Today’s day was highlighted by an impressive 122-36 win over the Sicily All-Stars. Chatrice White led the scoring column with 22 points, Iho Lopez pulled down 12 rebounds and AJ Alix dished out 11 assists in our win. You can find photos of the game here.
There’s been a genuine excitement from these Italian fans about our presence here. In both games played on this trip, we’ve been greeted by fans before and after the game. Despite the heat in both gyms, we’ve made sure to stick around, pose for pictures and sign autographs. It’s our duty!
— FSU Women’s Hoops (@fsuwbb) August 11, 2017
Our student-athletes had a blast today at a nearby water park in Cantania. They got that little kid feeling again, although many of them are still little kids at heart. You can spend several hours at a water park, and that’s exactly what they did. They left at 10 a.m. local time and didn’t return until around 3 p.m.!
For lunch we had a tremendous penne pasta with cream sauce, one of our best meals yet. It was followed by a mix of vegetables and chicken, and finished with some fruit.
Our hotel overlooks a tremendous view of the sea. While the student-athletes and a few support staff were splashing at the water park, other members of the staff took time out to relax and unwind.
Saturday will be another travel day as we leave the beautiful country of Italy. It’s been a blast being in Rome, Naples, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast and Sicily. I think a lot of us have personal agendas to get back here with family and friends!
Thursday, August 10
It was a travel day to the gorgeous area of Sicily, specifically Cantania (pronounced Con-Ton-Yuh). We checked out of our hotel at around 1 p.m. local time, went through the airport at Naples (Napoli to the Italians) and went on a 1 1/2 hour flight. One thing noticeable at the airport was that we didn’t have to take our shoes off for screening!
Once we touched down, we made an hour drive to our destination in Mount Etna and explored the area. At the Amalfi Coast yesterday and today in Sicily, we’ve noticed how tight the roads are. These bus drivers can navigate these roads like no other!
The views we witnessed tonight in Sicily were breathtaking. Mount Etna is an active volcano area surrounded by acres upon acres of vineyards and other beautiful aspects of nature. It was a time for us to bond as a team, and we were treated to a great dinner which included the best view possible.
Friday includes some sightseeing around Sicily as well as our second game against a Sicilian All-Star team at 7 p.m. local time.
Wednesday, August 9
By graduate point guard AJ Alix
Three days into our foreign tour, I can honestly say it’s been a blessing to be out here in Italy, and we still have Spain to go to! Starting at the beginning, it was great to see how much history Rome has. I really liked the Colosseum. Just thinking about it, my mom used to watch Gladiator a lot, like every day. It was her favorite movie. Just seeing that was the type of environment it was, that’s pretty cool. Learning the culture and history out in Rome was pretty cool to me.
People always say you have to sample the Italian food, but I’m a little picky. I’ve been sticking with the pizza and some pasta and haven’t tried anything new.
I was excited to get my first taste of action at Florida State playing another team. It was different for me. It was a different style of play. It was fun to be able to push the ball up, pass it to my teammates so they can score the ball from anywhere.
It was cool getting a lot of assists to Imani (Wright) in our 103-33 win. She can shoot the 3 from wherever, hand in her face, it doesn’t matter. It was just fun. I felt like I was playing with an all-star team.
Our team has a chance to be really good playing up-tempo. It starts on defense. Playing full-court defense and stopping the ball. If I get a steal I’m going to push the ball, and if they make it I can slow it up a little but still push it. That kind of motivates me to get stops on defense so we can push the ball.
One thing that we were tested on in our game against Italy Selezione was the heat in the gym. It’s been real hot here, and even though we live in a hot place like Tallahassee, our gyms are air-conditioned. This might be weird but I think I might have been pushing through harder because the gym was hot. It was pretty weird to me. I felt like I was pushing through a lot more. It was still fun playing through it.
Today (in Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast) felt like a reward day because we won. Today was fun – we went to the beach, and did a lot of fun things. I wasn’t really used to that because this is my first foreign trip. It was fun to be out and experience all that Italy has.
There’s some great shopping districts in the Amalfi Coast, but I didn’t get anything to shop. I plan to shop tomorrow. It’s totally different. We have gallerias and inside malls, and everything here is you walk and see it and then you get it. I think that’s what’s cool about it is it’s like an outside mall or a town center here.
I will say this – we didn’t come on this trip to be lazy. I didn’t come out here to sleep. Our athletic department spends all this money for us to go on this trip, so I want to wake up and start my day early and use that time wisely. I would rather be walking all over Italy and touring than in my hotel and sleeping.
This is the best place basketball has brought me so far. People would die to come to a place like Italy. Three days into our foreign tour has allowed me to realize how much of a blessing it is to be a part of this game.
Tuesday, August 8
Florida State 103, Italy Selezione 33
The Seminoles faced host Italy Selezione on Tuesday night in the city of Marigliano, a small town of Naples. Redshirt senior Imani Wright led the Seminoles with 23 points, while senior forward Shakayla Thomas unofficially added a double-double with 14 points and 10 boards.
Senior center Chatrice White chipped in with 17 points, five rebounds and two steals while competing physically in the post. Graduate point guard AJ Alix impressed in her first showing with the Garnet and Gold, tossing in nine assists with nine points and seven rebounds.
Florida State shot 56.7 percent from the floor, especially capitalizing on turnovers that turned into easy baskets underneath.
FSU’s next game is on Friday, August 11, against another group of Italian All-Stars in Sicily.
Our second day in Rome, which occurred earlier in the morning, included seeing the Vatican City and touring the Sistine Chapel. The work by Michelangelo was already amazing to read about in the history books, but to see it in person is unreal!
After having another phenomenal Italian lunch, we made the near 3-hour venture over to Naples. Check out a full photo gallery of our time in Rome! It’s a gorgeous city that allows you to fully absorb all the history it has to offer.
Monday, August 7
What a whirlwind day it has been. But the six-hour time adjustment has been totally worth it after everything we got to see today! After landing in Rome at 10:30 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET), we hit the ground running.
Following our Italian-style brunch this afternoon, we went straight to some of the world’s most incredible architecture. Our team got the pleasure of touring the Colosseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps and other landmarks of Rome for several hours.
During the evening, we enjoyed some fantastic food at La Gallina Blanca in Rome, feasting on a five-course meal. Perhaps the highlight of the dinner was the homemade fettuccine with mushrooms, or possibly the lemon sorbet to cap the evening.
— FSU Women’s Hoops (@fsuwbb) August 7, 2017
It will take some adjustment getting used to being six hours ahead. Regardless, Tuesday’s schedule includes more touring, including the Vatican City. We also play our first game of the foreign tour against the Italian All-Stars Tuesday night in Naples.
Friday, August 4
Watch Savannah Wilkinson, Imani Wright and Coach Sue talk about all the opportunities the foreign tour trip will bring.
Thursday, August 3
With three days left before heading off to Europe, redshirt senior Imani Wright, freshman Savannah Wilkinson and head coach Sue Semrau participated in interviews about their upcoming trip.
— FSU Women’s Hoops (@fsuwbb) August 3, 2017