Aug. 19, 2009
BERKELEY - The California women's soccer team traveled to Italy this summer for the program's first-ever foreign tour. You can read blog entries about the trip by assistant coach Tracy Hamm here. For Golden Bear junior defender/forward McKenna McKetty, it was the first trip to Europe ever. CalBears.com recently caught up with McKetty to chat about her experience in Italy.
CalBears.com: What was the favorite city that you visited?
McKenna McKetty: Rome and Venice. It's a close tie.
CalBears.com: What was it like to play soccer abroad? What were the teams the Bears played like?
MM: I think it's such a great experience to play in other countries that look at soccer in a different way they we do in the United States. Not only do they have different playing styles, but their strategies are a lot different. The teams we played were pretty good. All three teams played with a strong sense of passion for the sport that I found very interesting and refreshing. It wasn't just another day on the field for them. It was more like an opportunity to take part in something they loved. This attitude made every game we played very competitive and fun.
CalBears.com: What was the most memorable moment for you personally?
MM: Honestly just being able to spend this time with my team in such an amazing and breathtaking country was pretty memorable. The team is like my extended family and to have this opportunity is a chance in a life time. Seeing Tony Parker and Eva Longoria was pretty cool too. One night, we played soccer and other games with the Italian men's rugby national team, which was fun.
CalBears.com: The team attended a professional game - what was that experience like?
CalBears.com: Prior to this trip, had you done much traveling outside of the state of California or the country? If not, what was the overall experience of traveling in Europe like for you personally?
MM: Amazing. This was my first international soccer game ever, and it honestly was everything I thought it would be and more. Soccer in other countries, especially in Europe, is so big that the fans are die hard fans for their teams. When we were at the game, it was just so interesting to watch the fans and learn the cheers. The game itself was amazing. Luckily we got to go to a high-scoring game that had a lot of action.
I have traveled a good amount prior to this trip. My club team traveled a lot, especially out of state and when I was younger. I was also involved with ODP when I was growing up so that allowed me to have many opportunities to play the sport I loved in numerous different states, and I even got to go to Costa Rica one summer. I also use to travel a lot to go visit my family in the summer time. This was my first time to Europe, however, and I definitely want to go back and visit other countries as well.
CalBears.com: Traveling for 11 days with the team is slightly different than your regular season road trip, what was it like to spend an extended period of time with your teammates and coaches?
MM: It was great. Our team is really close and we all get along really well. In many ways, we are like a family, so traveling together isn't really a burden, it's more of a privilege. Also, I think it really helped those playing this fall to mesh. We all have become a lot closer and we all got to share a really exciting and memorable trip together. Plus, traveling with your friends always makes it that much more exciting and fun. I think this team really helped create a stronger dynamic for those of us who returned in the fall.
CalBears.com: The Bears had a solid spring outing, from a performance/strategy point of view, how did the games the team played go?
MM: They went well. While we were in Italy, we got to use the games as a time to focus on what we had worked on all spring and to get prepared for the fall. Though the trip was such a great experience, when it came to game time, we were all very focused and determined to complete the task at hand. The results in our games shows that we did a great job of implementing the things we had learned over the spring semester.
CalBears.com: What was the food like in Italy?
MM: It was delicious. Hands down, Italian food in America doesn't even come close to the food in Italy. I loved every meal. Words can not even start to explain how good the gelato was.
CalBears.com: What was the best tourist or historical attraction that you saw and why?
MM: I couldn't really narrow it down to one thing. But as a whole, I found Rome to be such an amazing city. The architecture was unbelievable. It's hard to think that so long ago, people were able to make such breathtaking buildings and sculptures that are still intact today. The Colosseum was also unreal. Pictures don't give it justice at all. It's amazing how much attention to detail that people had in order to make this incredibly beautiful buildings.