Unparalleled educational experience in Costa Rica for Louisiana Tech men’s hoops

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RUSTON – The foreign tour trip to Costa Rica was intended to be an unparalleled educational experience for the Louisiana Tech men’s basketball team.

And that it was.

Thanks to the generous contributions from donors and the vision of the University, University president Dr. Les Guice and athletics director Tommy McClelland, the Bulldogs spent a full week in the Central American nation not only playing two exhibition games, but experiencing everything the country had to offer.

“As we sit and reflect on the trip, first it comes down to appreciation for everyone who made it possible,” head coach Eric Konkol said. “We had an incredible time, from playing the games to being in San Jose to visiting an elementary school that put a lot of things into perspective to heading to one of the most beautiful areas on the west coast.

“There were a lot of bonding experiences, doing things for the first time. Those are things we will remember for the rest of our lives. We are very grateful. This was a wonderful experience for all of us.”

The first half of the trip was spent in the vibrant capital of San Jose (outside of one game in San Ramon). Both contests came against big, tough opponents and the theme of being “tougher, together” this offseason came into focus in the two hard-fought victories.

“I thought the team played together well, playing against older guys,” sophomore JaColby Pemberton said. “We got used to the physicality of the game. I feel like overall, we battled through adversity. It was a great experience, getting to see a different part of the world with basketball.”

As much as the games made a huge impact on the squad, the biggest impact from the trip occurred off the court when they went to visit an elementary school in the south side of the capital, one of the poorer districts of the city.

“It was a great experience seeing these kids,” senior Derric Jean said. “Very humbling. They are not exposed to a lot. They are not able to do a lot of outdoor activities. It was great to come and have fun with them, see the joy on their faces. Hearing their stories, it warmed my heart being able to spend time with them.”

Another memorable moment was getting to tour downtown San Jose on foot, mingling with the locals and getting to eat some local cuisine and do some shopping at the famous Artisan’s Market.

“Getting to experience San Jose meant the world to me,” junior DaQuan Bracey said. “This was my second time going out of the states because of basketball. Most people don’t get to do that in their whole lifetime. To be able to go out of the country and experience different things is a blessing.”

Then came the second half of the trip on the Pacific coast at Playa Conchal resort that proved to be an incredible bonding experience for the team – snorkeling, riding jet skis and ATVs and eating amazing food.

Oh, and can’t forget the zip lining at Diamante Eco Adventure Park.

While there were a couple of players (not naming names) that were hesitant, the entire squad ended up taking part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience that included the ultimate “Superman” zip line where you laid down and went upwards of 60 miles per hour for almost a mile-long view of the ocean.

“It was a lot of fun,” sophomore Anthony Duruji said. “We went up so high, feeling like Superman up there. I’m glad we were able to go out and experience this. It was great to enjoy it with everyone, seeing their faces and their happiness. It was a great bonding time for our team, growing closer together.”

Needless to say, it was a jam-packed week in Costa Rica. And, needless to say it was indeed an unparalleled educational experience.

“The experience was absolutely great,” junior Oliver Powell said. “I loved every single second of it. Had a blast, hanging out with the team. Got to do a lot of stuff for the very first time. I want to thank everybody that had a hand in making this trip possible. It would not have happened without them.”

The foreign tour trip was 100 percent funded through private donations to the Louisiana Tech Athletic Club.

For all the latest in Bulldog Basketball, follow them on Twitter (@LATechHoops), Instagram (@LATechHoops) and Facebook (LATechMBB) or visit the official website at LATechSports.com.

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