The Florida State Women’s basketball team is touring South Africa this week and next courtesy of Nike, and Seminoles.com will provide an in-depth look at the Seminoles’ foreign tour.
Each day a different player will provide a unique perspective on the team’s activities through a personal diary.
Final Diaries – Senior Forward Jacinta Monroe
I’m sitting in the Johannesburg airport, and it’s kind of bittersweet to head back to the United States. We had a lot of fun, but I’m anxious to get back home. There’s no place like home. It was a great experience, a once in a lifetime experience, and it’s something I will keep with me until the end of time. We gelled and our chemistry got a lot better on and off the court. It was great to visit a place that I never thought I would get an opportunity to visit.
I think it was a humbling experience. We think we have it bad sometimes when we are low on gas and we don’t have money to fill up our tanks, but coming over here a lot of people don’t have cars and don’t have money to buy food. I think we grew up a lot. It will really help us appreciate the things we have.
It was such an overwhelming trip at times, but I think I’ll remember the orphanage and the Kayamandi kids for a long, long time. Being around them it was a touching experience. It felt great to make a difference in their lives, however small it was. You never know how things affect other people, no matter how minute they might seem to us. We didn’t want to leave them when we had too.
As far as the basketball side goes, the head start should help us. Any team with a head start should have a leg up. It was an extra opportunity to grow as a team, and develop that chemistry on and off the court.
I think this trip will impact the way I think about things when I get back home. You grow up and you’re humbled when you go to different places and you see different cultures.
Redshirt Freshman Point Guard Alexa Deluzio
Today was our last day, and we snuck a trip up to the top of Table Mountain before our flight. It was so pretty. The cable car ride up to the top of the mountain made me dizzy, but once I got up to the top it was well worth it. It was amazing. It overlooks all of Cape Town, and you can see as far as the Cape of Good Hope. The water was my favorite, and I loved how you could see the different colors. The blue and the green, it was all really pretty.
While we were up there John, our videographer, pretended to jump off the side of the mountain, and Coach Johnson thought that he actually did. She yelled and I think all of South Africa could hear her. She thought that John was gone, and burst out into tears. The whole team was laughing and giving her a hard time. It was hilarious.
This trip was so amazing, and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I’m anxious to get home and see my family though. And I definitely can’t wait to sleep in my own bed.
When I look back on this trip I’ll remember so much. I thought I was going to remember mostly the basketball games, because that’s what I was looking forward to the most, but having fun with the team and experiencing South Africa’s culture and its daily life will stick with me the most. Going to hang out with the kids at the Kayamandi Township and teach them basketball was my favorite part. That’s what I will remember the most.
I just think the way they appreciate stuff is different the than the way we live. For us, we’re all so materialistic, but for them teaching them defense or a jumpshot, it was the best thing in the world for them. I want to carry over the ability to appreciate the things in my life the same way that they do.
We’re in the airport now, and I’ve got the middle seat so I’m dreading the long flight home. I’m just going to try and sleep as much as I can.
Diary #7 – Kayli Keough
We woke up and it was storming so we weren’t able to take our trip up to the top of Table Mountain. I was really disappointed we didn’t, hopefully we will be able to make it tomorrow before we go. Instead, we went to Long Street, a historical area in the heart of Cape Town, for some shopping and sight-seeing.
I thought it was really cool just because you could kind of see the actual shops and then the market in the middle. The ones we had gone to before was just like one strip, but this one actually had shops to go into and more things to look at. They had tons of really cool stuff, and some of the girls on the team got custom made necklaces. I bought two canvas paintings. The first was of an African woman sitting down, but the texture of the paint made her seem hidden. The second was of an African village. I’m either going to hang them up in my apartment or use them for a scrap book.
Next we went to the Robben Island Museum. Robben Island is the prison where Nelson Mandela, and hundreds of other political activists were unjustly imprisoned by the Apartheid regime. Apartheid is when the whites, who made of 20-percent of the population, ruled the blacks, who made up 80-percent of the population. Even though we weren’t able to take the boat out to the island, the museum was very cool.
You can really tell how important it is to the South Africans, everything that Nelson Mandela did. Seeing a place where he was able to formulate a lot of his ideas, and still be able to come up with his ideas for a better Africa was really cool. Even though he was imprisoned he still had faith that he would be elected and that he could make a difference for his people. There were so many political prisoners on Robben Island, it was crazy to learn about some of it. I had never heard that people with leprosy were exiled, and people that were exposed to it were sent to the island to die.
It is so weird to think about how recent the struggle for equal rights was in South Africa. Apartheid ended in 1994. In the US we had the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and then you had Africa that was going through similar circumstances so many years later. Every person that has talked to us about South Africa on our trip has told us about the impact of the Apartheid regime, and these people have lived through it. They’ve lived with these issues that we would normally think about were way in the past, but they lived through it and experienced it.
It’s so awesome to know that Nelson Mandela and his followers were able to take power without revenge in mind. They didn’t want to take over the whites, or rule them, they wanted to work together with them for progress and the good of South Africa.
After the Robben Island Museum we checked out the Two Oceans Aquarium. It was cool, you could see the different kinds of animals. A lot of the trips I’ve been on have had an aquatic element, so it was cool to see the difference between the animals here and the animals there; like the really big spider crabs. I had never seen anything like that. I like sharks a lot and they had a giant tank. It was neat to see some of the fun facts. Only nine people die a year in South Africa from shark attacks, but hundreds die from defective toasters.
We head back to the United States tomorrow. I’m so sad. I packed up my stuff today. It’s all in my suitcase and it’s really upsetting. This trip has been crazy. It’s been more than I ever expected to be able to experience in my life. Without basketball, I would never have been able to do something like this. It’s been an eye opening experience to a beautiful and diverse culture. I think that this trip will change the way that I look at other people’s circumstances, I’ll be able to look at more of their background to understand the way they work and how where they came from affects who they are. Life isn’t just about what you see on TV. Despite all some of the bad things these people live with, they are able to find the good things and find joy in life. They aren’t wrapped up in all the material things that we’re wrapped up in.
Diary #6 – Angel Gray
We woke up extra early in hopes of catching some good weather and heading up to Table Mountain. It was really foggy though, so we made a quick change of plans and decided to head down the coast towards the Cape of Good Hope. It was an early morning start, and our first stop was at an African Flea Market. Everyone was excited to try out their bargaining skills. For some people it worked, for some it didn’t. I was able to get something for 50-percent off, so that was cool. It’s definitely not like America. It was a cool market.
It was a long bus ride to the Cape of Good Hope National Park, but it was well worth it. The water was breathtaking and the mountains were like paintings. It was a very surreal moment, and it really made me thank God for all of His blessings. It just really showed me how beautiful South Africa is.
We took a long hike up to a historic lighthouse, each step brought us closer and closer to a big part of history. It was well worth it, and we got to take a lot of great pictures, especially of all my tired teammates. Everybody from different countries had signed that spot, it was really cool to see that.
We stopped at a “Shark Lookout” point, where someone spots sharks for the surfers down below. All I could think about was Shark Week on Discovery Channel, and that had me intimidated by the seas of South Africa.
Seeing the kids from Kayamandi at our game was so amazing. We’re here making a difference in their lives and just trying to help where we can. When they started doing the Warchant, oh my gosh, it almost made us turn the ball over. To be halfway across the world, and touch somebody’s live so much that they’re behind us and supporting us was amazing. They hardly know us, but they accepted us and they cared.
After the game we could have easily just got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel, but we’ve learned how to give back from our coaches. Seeing the way their faces lit up when we gave them our jerseys was amazing. I was speechless and I enjoyed every moment. It was such a humbling experience. We have all these resources and we take them for granted so much. Being able to give back to them hopefully helps them a ton.
Recap Game #3 – Florida State vs. Cape Town Campus All Stars
Alexa Deluzio and Angel Gray both scored 22 points and the Florida State Women’s basketball team capped off the basketball portion of its foreign tour Monday night, overwhelming the Cape Town Campus All-Stars on its way to a 102-17 win at Cape Town Gym.
The win gave Florida State a perfect 3-0 finish in Africa, and capped off weeks of extra preparation for the 2009-2010 season.
“As much as this trip was about us getting better, it ended up being so much more about helping South Africa elevate the presence of basketball around the country,” coach Sue Semrau said. “Our time here has just been so valuable in the development of teamwork, purpose, and chemistry on and off the court.”
Senior guard Angel Gray paced the Seminoles on offense, going 8-for-9 from the field, and provided a spark on the defensive end with five steals.
“It’s very fulfilling, but I know I couldn’t have done it without the help in preseason from the trainers, coaches, and my teammates,” Gray said. “One thing I’ve had to work on is confidence. I’m stronger mentally now, and I’m more comfortable because my coaches have pushed me to have that confidence and I know they’re behind me 100-percent.”
Deluzio hit 10 of her 15 shots, including two 3-pointers. The redshirt freshman sat out a year ago while recovering from knee surgery, but looked calm and comfortable setting up the offense in just her third game as a Seminole.
“I’ve been waiting for this trip since I tore my ACL since it would be the first games I’ve player. ,” Deluzio said. “I’ve been trying to get back in the swing of things, trying to build team chemistry, and this trip has helped so much .”
Alysha Harvin scored 12 points and Christian Hunnicutt added 11 for the Seminoles, who led the entire way over an undermanned Cape Town All-Stars team. For a country who has just recently begun playing basketball competitively, the Seminoles presence on the court helped South African basketball take a big step forward. Only one of 15 South African Universities award scholarships in basketball right now, but there are people on the ground attempting to change that.
“This was a huge step for out efforts to make basketball more prominent in South Africa,” said Bibi Moeketsi, the founder of Hoop City which has been mandated to operate and manage South Africa’s brand new Campus basketball association. “This has opened doors, and this tour alone brought together so many groups in this country to make it happen. Because these teams haven’t played against teams of real magnitude, they think they’re good. They think they’re at a level that is acceptable to the world. This also means for them, that if they really want to do well and further their education through basketball, they need assistance in elevating their skills.”
African Basketball Community, an institution dedicated to raising awareness about the sport in the Western Cape Region, also helped facilitate Monday night’s game. It’s ABC’s hope that Florida State’s trip to Cape Town will be a kick start to increase participation in the sport, and raise the community’s excitement about the sport.
“Tonight was a lesson in basketball,” said Emmanuel Mavomo, the founder of African Basketball Community. “It’s a new beginning. FSU showed us the way basketball should be done, and hopefully that will be the way South Africa does it in the future.”
Like almost all of the team’s trip to South Africa, the night was about much more than basketball. Teenagers from the Kayamandi Township that the Seminoles held a basketball clinic for Sunday sat in the stands during the game, and received practice jerseys from the players after for the township team to use as uniforms.
“What a blessing it was to have the friends we made Sunday here to watch,” Semrau said. “Seeing the joy in their faces and hearing them do the Warchant during the game gave me goose bumps. It was great to see the willingness of my players to give the kids their practice gear. It was just special for me as a coach.
Diary #5 – Courtney Ward
Today was our first full day in Cape Town. We woke up, ate breakfast, and then headed out to see the countryside. We stopped at a Cheetah Reserve just outside of Stellenbosch. Some of the players went into the cages and petted the cheetahs.I just stayed a little distant from the cheetahs because I wanted to protect my life. I liked the lions that we saw in Sun City better.
After the Cheetah Reserve we went to another township to interact with the community and run a basketball clinic for a lot of the kids. That was fun. That was the best part of the trip so far. It was just interesting to se it in person, rather than on TV. I felt happy and it was really emotional. They ran up to us like they already knew us. They were so excited, and we were like a family. The kids seemed so content even though they might not live in the nicest place and they were so happy to see us. They all loved taking pictures with us, and they wanted to hug us and climb all on us like they already knew us.
It was really fun, because I think that just us being around them made them want to play basketball. We just ran them through some simple drills, but they loved all of it. It’s funny because I think they’d do anything we told them to do. The girls just kicked off their shoes and played even though there was some glass and stuff on the court.
It was fun getting to know some of them, where they come from and what hey do. Just hearing about their schools and what they do for fun, kind of comparing what they do and what we do. After we finished teaching them they gathered in the middle of one of the courts and sung us three or four songs. We play basketball, and they sing and dance. They sing very well, the boys and the girls. They have a different style of dancing, something I’ve never seen before. It was cool. They were kind of shy at first, but once one or two of them started singing they all started singing. They were all so talented, and it was so amazing to watch.
The whole day made me think a lot about our lives. Compared to them I have everything, and it’s a lot of unnecessary stuff. It made me realize that maybe material things aren’t so important after all. I’m so blessed, to not only have a pair of shoes, but shoes that cover my feet. We walk on different ground. It’s simple to think about, but it really stuck out to me. When we were in the shacks and stuff, they were walking without shoes on rocks or red clay, glass, trash and everything. In the United States we walk on grass or pavement.
Tomorrow we are going to the top of Table Mountain, which will give us an amazing view of Cape Town. We’re also going to visit the Cape of Good Hope, and then we play our final game of the trip at a local University.
Diary #4 – Cierra Brevard
This morning we left Johannesburg, and the bus ride to the airport was pretty intense. We passed by a few townships, and the poverty was just so real. It was upsetting seeing a lot of what people have to live in, but the people we have met are still so joyful anyway. There is so much construction going on getting ready for the 2010 World Cup, and that is revitalizing a lot of the city. Seeing the good parts was neat too. All you really see on TV is the poverty, but there were nice areas too. It was such a big city, and I wasn’t really expecting it to be like that.
We flew to Cape Town today, and the mountains are really pretty, and I’m really excited to get to go to the top of Table Mountain this week. We had some free time this afternoon, and me and some of the other girls walked around in the Waterfront District. It’s really exciting to go out into the city some and see other people’s way of life. The waterfront is really nice, and the view of my room looks out into Table Bay. I spent some time this afternoon just watching the boats go in and out. The shops and everything around here are great. They have so many paintings and sculptures. It’s not something you see a lot back at home.
Tonight, the whole team went and watched a soccer game between two South African professional teams. Going to the soccer game was really cool because the atmosphere and the environment was intense. It was so cool to see how into soccer and everything the fans were. The walk to the stadium was great. The chants and seeing how dressed up everyone was, you could tell how pumped the fans were. Even when we were a mile away, everyone around us was so excited. Walking into the stadium was kind of overwhelming. I had never really experienced anything like that before.
It’s really cool to see the passion of the fans because I think the way they were reacting in simple little things in the game, they showed more emotion than a lot of fans back in the States. It was really cool to be in that atmosphere tonight and see how crazy a lot of it was. It showed just how universal sports are, especially the way people care about them.
Tomorrow we are conducting a clinic for some local kids and hopefully doing some more sightseeing. I am looking forward to going to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was in prison, later this week. I know there is so much history there, and that is basically where the rebirth of this country took root. I’m really enjoying learning about their history and how much change the country has seen over the last 20 years. The people here are so warm and friendly, despite all that they’ve been through.
Recap #2- Florida State vs. South African National Team
SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA – Kayli Keough came off the bench to score a game-high 18 points and the Florida State Women’s basketball team overcame a sluggish start to run away with a 96-56 win over the South African National Team Friday night at Grace Bible Church gym.
A night after blitzing the South Africans with an early 19-5 run on their way to an 87-51 win, the Seminoles led by just four points late in the first quarter of their second game against Team SA. After a timeout, Florida State scored the last five points of the quarter and took control of the game with a dominating second quarter.
“As expected when you beat a team handily the night before, there is a tendency to come out and be a little bit more relaxed,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “After the timeout, I thought they responded. They came out and played a much better game than we did the night before .”
Keough provided the big spark off the bench, making her first five field goals, and finishing 7-for-9 from the field. The sophomore from Land O’Lakes added four steals.
“I was a lot more comfortable with things tonight,” Keough said. “Today I came into it really confident and more comfortable than I was Thursday. Hearing my teammates talking and knowing that we had each other’s back made it easy for me to come in there and play loose.”
The Seminoles finished with five players in double figures. Redshirt freshman Alexa Deluzio had 15 points, Jacinta Monroe scored 14, and Courtney Ward added 13. Cierra Bravard helped the Seminoles control the boards, posting a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Five of Bravard’s rebounds were on the offensive end.
“It was good to see her assert herself as a rebounding presence,” Semrau said. ” I saw an aggressiveness that we need night in and night out.”
After taking a 50-26 lead into halftime, the Seminoles continued to pull away in the third quarter. Before the game, FSU exchanged shirts with the South African National Team, and after the teams shared a meal together. It was a unique opportunity for both teams to spend time with a competitor and share stories about life and basketball.
“Asking the players afterwards what the highlight of the game was for them, it was without question the chance to sit and talk with the South African players afterwards,” Semrau said. “For me, watching them sit in a circle and lean in and care about what the others were talking about, as a coach, it really just sunk in that there is so much more about this trip than basketball .”
Diary #3 – Alysha Harvin
This afternoon we really got a chance to experience Africa in a way that will stay with us for a long time. We toured the Soweto Township and visited the Othandweni Orphanage. It was an eye opening experience for so many people on the team. Basically at the orphanage I felt like the way those people, what they did for those kids was so great. They helped those kids that needed help so much. The kids kept their rooms so clean, cleaner than I would my own room.
For them to not have their parents around, living in an orphanage, they still have discipline and they still know how to do little things like making their beds and lining up their shoes neatly. They don’t even know that they don’t have all the material things that we put so much emphasis on in America. They were laughing, playing. The little kids, all they wanted to do was hug me and love me. They don’t have all the financial stuff, but you could tell that they had love. They have a neat little family there.
It was a really great experience, the coaches got pretty emotional around the little babies, because the babies obviously don’t even know who their parents are. They were brought in the world without a family. It touched a lot of our staff and it touched me. I am so lucky to have my mom. I thought having a single parent was rough, but I’m so blessed to have her. Those kids just kept a smile on their face regardless.
We got to go out and teach some basketball to some of the older kids on their court. It was such a fun time. When I first got on the court they ran to us, and were so excited about learning basketball from us players. They looked up to us so much, and they were all so enthusiastic about simple things like getting in line before a drill. They looked us in the eyes, and were so excited to play basketball. Basketball is not their main sport or anything, but they wanted to learn it. Being able to give back to them was great. It touched me really deeply.
We also got to go see the house where Nelson Mandela grew up as well as the house Desmond Tutu grew up in. Driving through that neighborhood, seeing how they really live, it isn’t what I’m used to. It really made me realize how fortunate I am, and I really should never complain.
After our game tonight, we got to sit down in circles with the players from the South African Team and eat dinner. It was such a unique experience. The girls were really cool, and they were able to tell us about different things. We really found out a lot about the other girls, like what schools they go to and what things they like. It felt cool to get to know other people besides Americans.
I learned more about the history of Africa today and it really changed my outlook on life. It made me realize how I take things for granted and I shouldn’t. These people have been through so much and they still keep a smile on their face no matter what.
Recap #1- Florida State vs. South African National Team
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA – Senior forward Jacinta Monroe scored a team high 19 points and the Florida State Women’s basketball team kicked off its foreign tour with a dominating 87-51 win over the South African National Team Thursday night at the University of Pretoria Arena.
“It felt great to come together on the basketball court because I’ve seen such progress in our team already off the court in the level of teamwork that they want to attain,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “I thought on the court, we hadn’t practiced a whole lot, but I saw a lot of great things.”
Monroe was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field, adding three blocks and five rebounds, as the Seminoles overwhelmed the South Africans from the tip. The South African’s never found an answer for Monroe, who picked up right where she left off a year ago as a second-team All-ACC selection.
“Cint had one of the most consistent games I’ve seen from her in a long time,” Semrau said. “She knows that is the type of game we’re going to need from her.”
The 6-foot-5 senior showed off the versatility that landed her a spot on Team USA this summer, scoring nearly everywhere on the floor.
“It was fun being out on the floor with my teammates again,” Monroe said. “I really think we’ve begun to gel, and I think that the head start we’re getting is really going to propel us into the season. I’ve been working on [being more versatile] a lot over the past couple summers. I’m more confident with it because I’ve put so much work in it. It also helps to have Cierra [Bravard} on the floor, which allows me to play the four spot.”
The Seminoles played smothering defense, holding South Africa to just seven points in both the first and the fourth quarter. Junior guard Courtney Ward had four of the Seminoles 11 steals, and FSU pushed the tempo throughout the game.
“Defensively I thought, especially in the fourth quarter when we here winded, to be able to dig deep and hold the South African team to seven points was really encouraging,” Semrau said. “The players challenged themselves to do just that, and they went out and made it happen.”
FSU jumped out to a 19-5 lead and led 42-24 at halftime. Florida State overcame 21 turnovers and some rust on offense to finish 32-for-54 from the field.
In her first game action as a Seminole Alexa Deluzio, who redshirted a year ago after knee surgery, scored 14 points off the bench. Alysha Harvin added 13 points, and Cierra Bravard had 10 for the Seminoles as they led the entire game. Ward added six assists. Redshirt freshman Chasity Clayton, Christian Hunnicutt, and Kayli Keough all scored eight points off the bench.
The Seminoles will face the South African National Team again on Friday night.
Diary #2 – Christian Hunnicutt
Posted August 13, 2009
Today was our first full day and it was packed with things to really help us experience the South African culture. This is the farthest I’ve ever traveled away from home and I’m so excited to be here.
We woke up and ate breakfast at our hotel. The spread of food was amazing. There were so many things to try. The breakfast was delicious, the waffles and my ham and cheese omelet was so good.
Everything we’ve eaten has been really good, and we haven’t had anything that I haven’t liked. All the food and fruit has been really fresh.
Next we loaded up on a big jeep-type truck for our safari at Pilanesburg National Park, which was my favorite part of the day. It was really neat to be right up close and personal with the animals and the wildlife. I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to see the lions, but that’s OK. We saw the elephant right at the end, and we also saw zebra, impala, giraffe, rhino, warthog, antelope, mongoose, hippopotamus, wildebeest, and crocodiles. The park was really big, and the mountains and lakes were really pretty.
We drove around for a long time looking for the animals. It was a little different from what I thought it was going to be, but I still really enjoyed it. The safari really helped make it “official” that we’re in Africa. Coming to South Africa, I didn’t expect it to be so metropolitan in some areas, but it’s all been really cool. The local people are so friendly and welcoming.
After our safari we had a nice lunch at our hotel, and then broke up into groups for some free time. My group decided to spend some time at a mini-water park near our hotel. It was so much fun. We rode on one of the dark tunnel slides and then also spent some time in the wave pool trying to bodysurf the big waves. It was a really relaxing afternoon.
After a quick nap, we ate at a Mediterranean style restaurant for dinner. It was really good, but now I’m full and ready for bed.
I’m looking forward to getting back onto the court Thursday. We will take a two and a half hour bus ride to Pretoria to play the South African National team. Being around so much neat culture, you almost forget that you’re here to play basketball, but I’m excited to play. I think we will play well even though we haven’t played in a while. The eight or nine days of practice really helped get some kinks out, so I think we will be fine.
Diary #1 – Chasity Clayton
Posted August 12, 2009
We practiced almost every day before we left. It was good getting to prepare and practice for this trip, it went well. Even though we don’t know the teams that we’re going to see, we took care of what we can do to play well.
The plane ride was long, crunched and cramped, we didn’t have a lot of space, but I got to watch a lot of great movies and listen to music.
The food was good, too. It was cool, just like the other trips we’ve taken together as a team. It was such a relief to finally land in Johannesburg after 16 hours of being on a plane. I’m so glad that we finally made it, and I’m looking forward to all the fun we’re getting ready to have.
I’m really looking forward to the safari tomorrow. I want to see the zebra’s and the cheetahs.
I’m really excited about playing in my first game as a Seminole on Thursday. It wasn’t that bad watching last year, but I’m really excited to play. It’ll be a new experience for me, and it will give me a chance to see where I am at as a player.
On Thursday, junior guard Christian Hunnicutt will reflect on the Seminoles’ trip to Pilanesburg National Park and their first full day in South Africa.