Since 1996 Bring It Promotions (BIP) has been hosting collegiate teams from the USA around the world to sightsee and play matches. Summer 2017 has proven to not be any different as a total of 15 university teams are going through Europe 10-14 days at a time for a unique team bonding experience of navigating new countries and playing tough foreign competition.
On many of these trips, it is a chance for players and coaches to experience life in different countries around the world for the first time. The bonding between the team as a whole is heightened due to being placed in situations which inhibit accomplishing tasks outside of each individual’s comfort zones.
Tasks done as a team on a daily basis which have become routine practice, take on a new form, such as traveling to matches, eating pregame meals, doing laundry. Often times forcing the team to pull together to problem solve and lean on each other in diverse situations to bring them closer together.
One of the unique factors BIP prides themselves on providing when tours are being set up and delivered, is giving the team an ‘authentic’ trip. Teams travel all over the United States throughout the year for competition and training. BIP aims to give a new spin on team travel. This goal is achieved by giving teams the mentality, “When in Europe, do as the Euros do”.
When planning the tour, questions kept in mind include; What do people from the respective country eat? How do people from the country being visited commute? How do people from the local country communicate?
Being able to give a small insight to different cultures outside the gym, as well as providing top competition in the gym, are goals BIP focuses on achieving with every trip abroad.
Over the years, instead of using a public bus to take teams from location to location, in cities and places that allow it, the teams are using the public transportation; metros, trams, buses and subways to move around the cities. This is not a common practice in most American cities and is a good way for teams to experience the everyday life of a local European going about their day.
In many European cities, another major mode of transportation is by bicycle. They’re efficient, environmental friendly and easy to use. Many cities are well marked with bike lanes and are striving to become more biker-friendly.
Many of the major European cities have joined a European Initiative to make bikes on par with cars as a form of urban transportation. They are great ways to see more of a city in less time as well as a healthier option for the user and for the cities.
A lot of cities have implemented programs to set up several racks all around the city, for free or cheap bike rentals for an allotted amount of time with easy registration for tourists. Often times, you see the locals utilizing these racks as well for their means of daily transportation.
More and more teams on BIP tours are venturing out to mimic the local behavior by utilizing bikes. In the past month, Colorado State University, Pepperdine University, The University of Utah, West Virginia University and University of Washington have all put their tours on wheels.
Pepperdine University broke ground in Maribor, Slovenia by being the first team in BIP history to rent 21 bikes from Pohorje and commute into the city for the day of sightseeing. A day which is normally done by bus. A few weeks later, University of Utah joined the trend.
Scott Wong, Head Coach of Pepperdine Women’s volleyball team, had this to say about this team’s experience on bikes in Europe – “Bring it Promotions set up the trip of a lifetime for our young ladies and staff. The balance between quality volleyball and day after day of epic adventures with great people are a part of the treasured memories. The time we spent traveling by bike, although a little touristy, is such a great way to see cities! The Waves biked through Milan, Vienna, and Maribor and had different, but good experiences on all three adventures. The bike ride into the town center in Maribor was absolutely beautiful and full of charm.”
To a local Maribor person, this act is seen as insignificant and routine. But to an American kid who rarely has spent any time on a bike and uses a car as their main mode of transportation to get from point A to point B, it becomes an eye opening, memorable experience.
Some staff members from Pepperdine even took it another step further and rented mountain bikes along with gear from the local Pohorje shop to join in on the adventure park on the city’s mountain where mountain biking is a major draw for entertainment.
Colorado State University started their foreign tour in Amsterdam this May, the most bike-friendly city in the world. In Amsterdam, over 60 percent of trips are made by bike in the inner city. Instead of using the public transportation to get to their first match, 19 people rented bikes and pedaled their way to the match in Holland against US Amsterdam; which is more than likely how most of the opposing players arrived to the match as well.
The bike excursion ended up being one of CSU head coach, Tom Hilbert’s highlights from the trip, “I’ve thought every day about how lucky I am to get to take my team on a trip like this. The volleyball is valuable and fun but the cultural experience is just as good. I’ve loved so many parts of it; traveling over 4800 miles from Denver to Amsterdam and playing a match the same evening. And did I mention we rented bikes, toured the city, and then rode our bikes to the match. Not a normal pregame routine.”
One of the main hotels used when teams visit Venice, is Galzignano Terme Spa and Golf Resort. The tranquil resort is located outside Padova and in the middle of a beautiful green 86.5 acre park and they pride themselves on being a bike-friendly company. Pro cycling teams use Galzignano and it’s accompanying resorts in Puglia, and Sicily as training camps in the winter. The resort has road bikes, urban bikes and mountain bikes available to rent.
Coaches from various teams on tour, most recently, the strength and conditioning coach, Beth Byron from West Virginia University, utilized her morning off to get the training experience of the European professional bikers.
Milan has been one of the world’s leading examples in Bike Sharing with 3,650 road bikes as well as 1,000 e-bikes. Many teams have Milan as one of their stops because it is where the National Training Center for the Italian team is located. Teams such as the West Virginia University, Pepperdine University and Colorado State University are just a few of many who have taken advantage of the bike service in the city during their stay.
Travel is about embracing the new culture you find yourself in to be able to take a small piece of what was experienced in the moment back to your own life when returning home. BIP aspires to give genuine cultural experiences alongside the tough volleyball competition in the gym to give an overall lasting memorable trip abroad.