Seton Hall women's basketball has taken flight, literally, to Europe to expand their recruiting overseas. Assistant Coach Catherine Proto recently traveled to Strumica, Macedonia to check out the action at the FIBA 18U Division B World Championships.
Zdravo (Hello) from Strumica, Macedonia! For those who don't know where Macedonia is, it is part of the former Yugoslavia and a small country the size of Vermont just north of Greece. I was excited for my trip overseas to see many international teams play for a championship.
The flight from JFK to Macedonia was a long one, 10 hours to Istanbul, Turkey then one more hour to Skopje, Macedonia. Once I arrived at the airport, my travels were not finished as I had a two-hour drive to the city of Strumica through the mountains and farm land. This was my first real experience driving a manual car as well. But thanks to Nanna Rivers, our strength & conditioning coach, and her great teaching skills I was able to navigate driving a stick shift like a pro. I won't tell you how many times I stalled when at a complete stop at the tollbooths though, whoops.
I have arrived!!! I finally arrived in Strumica on a very HOT day. I ventured to find my hotel and after circling around it twice in the car and walking past it once on the street I was finally at my new home. Let me just tell you it was great to finally get settled and ready for the next couple days of games.
The city of Strumica was small compared to American standards and especially compared to New York City, which is not too far from Seton Hall. But it was a nice little town that had many shops, restaurants and a great nightlife scene. No, you did not find me at the clubs at night, but I was out and about in the town square on the nice cool nights. Everyone in town was very helpful and friendly during the trip and it made it feel like home.
Now, I know you are all dying to ask about the food. What was it like? How did it taste? I am happy to say that the food was actually good. I found a pizza place. Not New York style pizza, but very good nonetheless. Also, I had a lot of grilled chicken and potatoes served in a variety of ways. But the most memorable thing that I ate was dessert. Who doesn't like dessert? It was labeled a pancake with banana, with nutella and chocolate. YUMMY!! Let me just tell you the banana was wrapped in a crepe, not really an American pancake, with warm nutella and lots of chocolate sauce drizzled on top. It was the best thing that I ate!
The tournament was great! Other than the HOT gyms, the teams were very competitive and I even saw some rivalry games fought out to the bitter end. I was able to evaluate a lot of good talent from many different countries. The players played hard, they understand the game of basketball and it shows every minute they are out on the court. Hopefully we will see some of these faces in a Pirate uniform in the years to come. Go Pirates!