SAN LUIS OBISPO – Thanks to gracious donations of a combined $225,000 – exclusively from private support – both Cal Poly men's and women's basketball programs will have the opportunity for overseas tours this summer, offering Mustang student-athletes once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for international competition and cultural experiences.
Cal Poly's women's basketball program will travel to Australia from Aug. 5-15 while the Mustang men's squad will visit London from Sept. 1-9.
As part of the fundraising effort, supporters were able "sponsor" a player, providing individual support for a single student-athlete's expenses. As part of this initiative, supporters have the opportunity to engage the sponsored player regarding their experience before, during and following the trip.
NCAA programs are allowed one foreign tour every four years with recent trips by the Cal Poly men's program comprising France (2015) and Costa Rica (2011) with the Mustang women's team visiting Costa Rica in 2011 and 2015.
"We've never had this type of support for women's basketball, so we're really pleased our supporters see the value in our students getting an international experience and how that can be a life-changer for them," women's head coach Faith Mimnaugh said.
While itineraries are being finalized, the Cal Poly women's team is planning stops in Sydney and the Gold Coast or Cairns and is planning three or four exhibition games. The team is scheduled to spend time learning about Aboriginal culture and participate in community service, while also visiting destinations such as the Sydney Opera House.
"Those are things that you just can't read about in a textbook," Mimnaugh said.
Currently, Cal Poly's rosters span 14 majors, with fields of study including architectural engineering, biology, business, civil engineering, communications, construction management, English, experience industry management, general engineering, kinesiology, materials engineering, psychology, sociology and wine & viticulture. One player is even pursuing a master's degree.
"Many of our students are thinking about how they can add to their American experience with globalization in the world," Mimnaugh added. "I think that, especially with our business majors, it really provides an opportunity to think about international, borderless interactions that they can have. And you can make parallels with other curriculums. It's going to be awesome for them to have this experience."
Meanwhile, the Cal Poly men's program will be based in London for the entirety of the trip and play two games in the city and one in Leicester. Aside from London sightseeing trips, Cal Poly will visit Cambridge University, among other sites.
"The international travel opportunity is special for our student-athletes from both an academic and athletic standpoint. Aside from our 10 practice sessions and three games in London, the trip will be a mini study-abroad experience for our team," Callero said. "The trip to England will be the first time in Europe for the majority of our team and staff. The time together will create memories and chemistry that we'll value for life.
"Thank you to all our supporters. Your generosity has been moving and we're closing in on our final fundraising goals. The future with these young men is bright."
Supporters with a desire to further fund both programs' travels may contact Ashley Offermann (associate athletics director, development) at firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 440-9792 or Sadie Strain (development assistant) at email@example.com or (805) 756-0275.