The Georgia Tech volleyball team left Atlanta late last week for an unlikely destination – Brazil. Coach Michelle Collier, a native of Brazil, wanted to introduce her team to the sport’s culture in her home country through a series of matches and also to help them grow as individuals and as a team. The Yellow Jackets will complete the trip May 17. Collier answered a few questions about the trip before the start of the trip. The team is keeping a blog on the Tech website.
What do you want to give your kids on this trip?
I really feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them to be in a country where the sport of volleyball is so valuable. People love and respect the game and play the game at a very high level as well, which brings in the competition and development that as a team I think we will be able to benefit greatly. The social side will also be very important to learn about another culture.
I really feel this trip encompasses a lot of aspects (social, athletic, and cultural) that will make each player grow as individuals on and off the court.
What precautions can you take with the Zika virus?
We have made sure that all participants of this trip are educated on the Zika virus.
We made sure all our immunizations requirements for Brazil were covered and we have also purchased bug spray that contains 30% Deet and bracelets that contain Deet, which helps prevent mosquito bites.
Additionally, we’ll be traveling with two Brazilian tour guides who will stay with us for the duration of the trip and have experience taking athletic teams on foreign trips.
Did that cause you to consider cancelling the trip?
Obviously, safety is the number one priority, but after seeking professional advice from the doctors on campus, we decided to continue moving forward with the trip and take the necessary precautions.
Can you describe what the Sugarloaf Mountains and Tijuca Forest are like?
The Sugarloaf Mountains and Tijuca Forest are famous tourist spots in Rio and we are excited to be able to do some sightseeing. We’re excited to see the National Volleyball Training Center in Saquarema, Brazil as well.
What is something personal to you that you are excited for your kids to experience?
I think it will be exciting for them to see how much Brazilians love volleyball.
What will experiencing a different style of play do for the team?
Make us better, having to play teams that we have never seen before and having to adjust to players and styles of play on the fly will force us to be able to adapt and strategize as the match goes on. It will also bring us together as a team since we will be outside our comfort zone.
How much roughly will this cost? Are there one or two donors who were particularly generous to fund the trip?
Not sure on the final cost, the administration will have to answer that. We are bringing some of our support staff as well, which for us is huge to be able to provide this opportunity as a thank you for all that they do for our student athletes and our staff.
There was one donor who gave a significant amount for the trip, but we also had support from longtime donors and parents. It was a team effort and the Alexander-Tharp Fund worked really hard to connect us with people who care for Georgia Tech and for our program. We are definitely thankful for the opportunity. We will be providing a world-class experience to our players and we understand that experiences like this don't come around every day.
What else should I know?
This trip embodies the Total Person Program at Georgia Tech. Our student-athletes will learn about themselves, their teammates and the world around them. It's a unique opportunity, and I know we'll emerge from it as better individuals and a better team.