Bears Volleyball gearing up for European tour
After spending the better part of the last four months immersed in fundraising efforts of all shapes and sizes, the Missouri State volleyball team is taking a few days to reflect on its hard work while preparing to embark on a 12-day European trip that will pit the Bears against national teams and professional level clubs from all over Europe. Head coach Melissa Stokes and assistant coaches Jeni Jones and Greg Brown will lead the 12-player MSU squad on the tour, which will span May 17-28 and see the Bears play seven matches over a nine-day period that will include stops in the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Italy.
Missouri State is coming off a 27-9 season in 2006 that culminated in the Bears’ second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. MSU knocked off Arkansas in the tournament’s first round for the program’s first-ever NCAA win. Returning players making the trip include seniors-to-be Jamie Adams, Katelyn Panzau and Sara Thomas, juniors Ashley Kell and Nikki Vandepopulier, sophomores Addie Foley, Kari Mattingly and Sara Staubach, as well as redshirt freshmen Kylee Eudy, Bethany Fuller, Shayla Patrick and Briana Wallace.
The Bears will be joined by athletics support staff members, parents and fans on the 38-person travel party that will leave for the Czech Republic on May 17. After arriving in Prague on May 18 and spending a day taking in the sights, the Bears will play their first match on the afternoon of Sunday, May 20. The following day the group will depart for Brno, about two hours southeast of Prague, where MSU will take on KP Brno, a first division Czech League club, that evening. On May 22, the tour travels south to Vienna, Austria for more sightseeing before heading further south to Maribor, Slovenia to meet the Slovenian National Team for a pair of matches on May 23-24. The trip continues on May 25 with the first two of the Bears’ three total matches in the Zrece International Tournament in Rogla, Slovenia. After capping the competitive portion of the tour with its final-round match at the Zrece meet on the 26th, the traveling party will depart for Venice, Italy, where it will spend the final day of its European experience sightseeing before departing for home on the morning of May 28.
Missouri State’s tour has been arranged by Bring It Promotions, a European-based placement agency that specializes in coordinating international volleyball competitions all over the globe. The cost of the trip for each member of the travel party is approximately $2,300, which includes airfare, ground transportation, meals, lodging and sightseeing excursions. All costs were covered through the program’s group fundraising efforts, without the aid of any University funding. Team members have raised approximately $40,000 from group fundraising efforts throughout the spring semester. The Bears have participated in a variety of activities, including cleaning up debris from the January ice storm, garage sales, selling concessions at MSU basketball and softball games, hosting tournaments, selling car wash passes, raffling Cardinals tickets, as well as offering private lessons and 12 different junior high and high school clinics.
Of the total amount raised, the Missouri State coaching staff has donated $15,000 of their own supplemental incomes stemming from their work at coaching clinics. Additionally, Stokes donated $3,000 in merchandise, which was made available for sale by players in order to help raise the remaining balance.
"I am very proud of all the efforts of the entire volleyball program and the fact that we were able to make this happen through our own fundraising efforts and without the assistance of university funding," Stokes said. "It has been a challenging spring with competition, classes, studying and, to top it off, all of the team activities we completed to make this trip possible. To be able to reflect on all of the hard work everyone put in certainly maximizes our appreciation for the experience as a whole."