Springfield, Ohio — For Katherine Hueter, Wittenberg University class of 2011 from Hilliard, Ohio, the unblemished record she and her USA Athletes International, Inc. (USAAI) teammates compiled while touring the Adriatic Sea Coast of Europe June 2-11 was just part of the story.
Hueter knows the tour, led by Denison University Head Coach Sara Lee and organized by USAAI, a non-profit organization based in Olathe, Kan., was more than just an opportunity to hone her jump shot. While touring Italy, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovenia, Hueter excelled on the court and then absorbed as many cultural and educational experiences as possible.
"This trip was completely surreal," said Hueter, who is majoring in English and secondary education at Wittenberg. "I was able to learn more about the respective cultures in the various countries and grow a lot as a person. Also, being able to play my favorite sport in another country is the culmination of an experience of a lifetime."
The tour started in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovenia, the historic city that hosted the Winter Olympics in 1984 but just eight years later was torn apart by a war that lasted until 1996. According to Hueter, many buildings remain splattered with grenade markings and bullet holes, but other, more modern, buildings are rising throughout the battered city.
The tour continued in Croatia, where team members and coaches enjoyed some free time on beaches. In Italy, the team took a gondola ride through the famed waterways of Venice and toured the famous Murano glass factory.
Her team won five straight games against quality competition, and Hueter even contributed a game-winning shot inside the final 10 seconds in a tournament game in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovenia, reminiscent of her game-winner on Jan. 24 for the Tigers against arch-rival Ohio Wesleyan. Her heroics in that game were part of a 2008-09 season in which she ranked among the team leaders with 7.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.
"Even though we played against players from different countries who spoke different languages, we were able to relate through the game of basketball," Hueter said. "They competed with great heart and desire, and the experience of playing against them made me a better basketball player and person."
Hueter hopes that the basketball experience on the tour will boost her game and help the Tigers build on their records of 14-12 overall and 9-7 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) in 2008-09. She knows that the educational experiences increased her knowledge base and gave her important new perspectives on the world.
"Being a well-rounded student-athlete is something that I strive for, and thankfully Wittenberg encourages us to take part in educational opportunities like this one," Hueter said. "This trip allowed me to absorb a lot within just 10 days, and I am extremely grateful to have had this amazing opportunity."
Written By: Ryan Maurer