Rams Return Home After Foreign Tour


After three flights and approximately 23 hours of travel, the Fordham women’s basketball team finally arrived in Melbourne, Australia. For the next two weeks, the Rams would be playing games, hosting clinics, and experiencing the cultures of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. It was all part of their foreign tour right before the beginning of the 2013 fall semester. Now, two senior members of the Rams, Erin Rooney, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’14, and Abigail Corning, FCRH ’14, are looking back at all of their adventures.

The idea of the foreign tour occurred before Head Coach, Stephanie Gaitley had even arrived at Fordham University.  In fact, it was inspired by Rooney, who first played at Monmouth University, where Gaitley was head coach at the time. “When I was first recruited, coach told me that she would be able to get me home at some point to play in front of my family. That was at my old school, and when we came here, she wanted to keep her promise,” Rooney said. The team also had a large freshman class coming in and Gaitley argued that the trip was a great way to jumpstart their season. Corning agreed, stating, “Now everyone’s played four college-level games, which is more than freshmen on other teams have played. Hopefully it will give us an advantage on the road.” Another advantage of the foreign tour was that Corning was able to meet up with former Fordham teammate, Caitlin Shadbolt. Shadbolt plays for the Geelong Lady Supercats, Fordham’s first opponent of four on the trip. For Corning, being able to play against Shadbolt, who was her teammate at Fordham for a year, brought things full circle.

Besides basketball, the team was able to have special experiences in each country. Their experiences included watching Australian football, which is similar to American football and rugby combined. “We also went to a zoo, they call it Healesville Sanctuary. We got to do a “magic moment” which is when you purchase a special ticket, and throughout the day there are times when you can interact with the animals. A bunch of us had magic moments with the kangaroos,” Corning said. “We got to go in where the kangaroos were. You could talk to them, you could pet them, we fed them carrots and corn right out the palms of our hands. It was so much fun, it was such an Australian thing to do and we took a ton of pictures.”

In New Zealand, the team had the chance to meet with Rooney’s family and explore her homeland. “In New Zealand, we went to my house for dinner. That was an experience. I Skype with my family a lot and so the team talked to them a lot. It was very funny that they got to meet face-to-face finally.”

Corning was glad to finally meet Rooney’s family as well. “It was so much fun. They are really great people. Meeting someone in person is just a completely different experience. You know, finally getting to hug the people that you talked to for a couple of years.”

Corning added on that while in New Zealand, the team went to Hanmer Springs, which is a hot springs with waterslides and whirlpools. Rooney’s godfather had also set up a mini plane ride above Christchurch. “The land in New Zealand is just beautiful. There are the Southern Alps to one side, and farmland, and greenery. The scenery is just awesome,” Corning claimed. “A bunch of us got to do that. [There was] five passengers and the pilot in the plane. You’re only at an altitude of 1500 feet, so we got to see everything and got great pictures.”

For the girls, Fiji was a place to witness a different culture from their own. “A bunch of them didn’t have any sneakers on. They didn’t even have shoes, flip-flops, nothing,” Corning noted. “And they were fine; they made the most of it. They could still run up and down the court, and do all the competitions, but that was something you definitely notice.” Corning, who is the Student Athlete Counsel President, hopes to set up a shoe drive at Fordham for the Fijian kids. The shoe drive will allow them to play without burning their feet on the scorching court.

“We learned a lot from socializing with the people,” Corning said. “‘Bula’ means ‘hello’ in the Fijian language. We would be on our morning runs and people would say ‘bula’ out of their windows, from the cars or if they were watering their grass.” She also observed the more slower-paced lifestyle that Fiji offered. The locals call it “Fiji time,” the polar opposite of New York’s hustle and bustle lifestyle. “They don’t care if they are late. They just love life,” Corning exclaimed. The team did get a chance to also be tourists, visiting a small island that takes about seven to nine minutes to walk around the entire place.  “But they had a lot of water sports stuff. There was a really cool snorkeling area and jet skis. All the touristy stuff you could do on an island,” Rooney recalled.

Both Corning and Rooney had experiences that will live with them forever. Now they hope that their experiences and team bonding will translate into another successful season. Their non-conference games begin in November.