MAY 28 :: TRIP TO ST. LOUIS (Bamba/Papa's Home)
On Wednesday, the Mustangs took a trip to St. Louis, Senegal, which is the hometown of senior center Bamba Fall and sophomore forward Papa Dia. Fall wrote about the experience and emotion of taking his "United States family" to see his family in Senegal.
Thursday is the Mustangs last full day in Senegal. The team has a 1.5 hour basketball clinic for students and coaches at the SEEDS Academy in Dakar. The Mustangs will then face the SEEDS Academy in an exhibition game during the afternoon. The day ends with an excursion to Pink Lake for dinner. According to Senegal's Tourism site, the lake appears pink due to the high salt content and shallow levels.
Blog - May 28
Today we visited St. Louis, Senegal. St. Louis is mine and Papa Dia's (sophomore forward) hometown. We have been staying in Dakar the past three days and drove to St. Louis today. We left at 10:30 am, and finally arrived at 4 pm. The drive was only supposed to take 3.5 hours, but it took extra because of heavy traffic from Dakar to Thies.
When we finally arrived in St. Louis, we went to my Mom's school. She is an economics teacher at CRETF. She showed the team the school and what they do at the school. We saw a few students working on their pottery and their fashion design. From there my mom rode the bus with us to see Papa Dia's family. We got there and his whole family was very excited to see us. They welcomed us to the house, gave us a tour, and fed us some thiebou yab. The team really liked the food. We saw Papa's and my old friends and family. Papa has an old basketball hoop behind his house on which myself, Papa, Papa's dad, and Coach Doherty shot around.
After that, we took the bus back to my house to see my family. It was the first time I have seen my entire family in more than three years. It was great to see them. I saw my extended family as well (uncles, cousins, old friends). Yesterday was my birthday, so it was especially meaningful for me to see my family at this time. I really like the fact that the whole team came to see them. Now my family has a sense of relief because this is the first time they have met my United States family. The whole neighborhood came out of their homes to visit. This was probably my best day in college basketball ever. I never thought that my team and family would ever meet, much less come all the way to St. Louis. It was very emotional for me.
To me, this is what college basketball should be all about. I have a basketball family, and now they have met my real family. This will bring our team closer together as a group, but also bring my two families closer together. I am glad that our team got to do this, and I think that other college basketball teams should do similar things. Visiting Africa is not just good for players from Africa, but the cultural experience and education is very important and beneficial. Our team has learned about a different culture and has a different view of the world now.
Blog - May 28
As a coach you have many ups and downs on the court and off the court. I have been coaching since 1989 and Wednesday was one of the best days in my coaching career.....and we didn't play a game!
Our day started with a long bus ride from Dakar to St. Louis. We were told the ride could take 2 ½ hours......3 hours.....5 hours.....the final number of hours ended up being 5 ½ hours with a couple of stops. Here are some highlights of the ride:
We are on the bus back to Dakar after a long day. It is 9:30pm here and we may not get back to the hotel until after midnight, but it was well worth it. If nothing else happens, today was worth the time and money put into this trip. Our players gained so much knowledge of Senegal, they bonded as a team, they got to meet the families of teammates and we all got to see the love and sense of family that surrounds Bamba and Papa and the people of Senegal. It was a VERY powerful experience!
Tomorrow we put on a clinic at SEEDS Academy where Bamba, Papa and Mouhammed attended. We want to give back and we hope this is a great way of doing that.