May 31, 2008
SALY, Senegal - Our day started off great because we got a chance to sleep in! Breakfast wasn't until 10 a.m. today, and as soon as we finished eating, we all went back to sleep until we had to leave. We left at 11:30 a.m. and headed to Bopp Boys & Girls Club in Dakar, about an hour and a half ride from our hotel.
When we arrived at Bopp, we were greeted by about 150 boys and girls who were so excited to see us. My younger brother, Kalid, showed up, too. He really has gotten bigger since the last time I saw him. He's 6-6 now, and he's only 13. Coach Montgomery are you reading this? I was a little nervous today, too, because when the director of the program introduced me, I knew that all of the kids were looking up to me as their role model.
We started off the clinic with defense drills, and Tasha was leading them while all of us were helping to demonstrate. One of the teachers at Bopp taught the team a few words in Wolof (the native language here) and in French. It was kind of funny to see my teammates experience the language barrier, just like I went through when I first got to Cal. I could see them really trying to understand what the kids were saying and trying to find ways to communicate with them. Krista even mentioned to me that she now understands how hard it was for me to communicate with my teammates last year.
Once we left the clinic, we stopped at a local restaurant for lunch. Kelsey, Trell and I had to translate and help everyone order because the entire menu was written in French. We ate panini sandwiches, pasta and pizza; which was a whole lot different than what we usually eat for pre-game meals. I guess it worked though because we won the game!
We were rushing a little to get to the game on time, so we headed back to the bus. Once we got there, we saw the bus driver trying to start the bus, and it wouldn't start! It was a funny experience to say the least. Luckily, we were in an area where there were a bunch of cabs, so we all got in about five cabs and rode over to the gym, which was less than five minutes away.
Finally, we arrived at the gym, thinking we were late. When we walked in, there were boys' club teams playing, and they were only in the third quarter. While my teammates were changing and getting their ankles taped, I got a chance to visit with all of my family, friends and former coaches that were there. This by far was the most exciting part of the day for me. My mother, father, both brothers, two of my three sisters (one of my sister's is going to the same high school that I went to in Japan) and my niece all were there. I miss them all so much, but seeing them today, and them seeing me with all of my teammates makes all of the sacrifices and things that I had to do to get to Cal worth it.
I really wanted to play in this game against my former team. I do have to say, though, that it was an exciting game to watch. Each team traded off making runs, and it was close from the second quarter on. We won 65-63 and completed our sweep of Africa. At the end of the game, we gave the Senegalese team Cal gear, and some of us even gave them our game shoes. I was very happy to see that my teammates were willing to give the players their shoes off of their feet, because they are much more in need of shoes and gear than we are.
Well, it's a little after 1 a.m. here, and I'm going to bed now! I am loving my homecoming trip and really can't wait to take my teammates to my house on Monday!