While traveling to the Washington, D.C., area to compete in the Mason Inn Patriot Invitational where they went undefeated to bring home the title, the Gamecock Volleyball team was able to fit in some fun and team bonding as well.
It all started with a special visit to the White House. A friend of John Kasik, South Carolina Associate AD/Sports Medicine, was able to help the team secure a tour giving them the opportunity to see the East Wing, including rooms with names like the blue room, the green room, and the red room, the main ballroom where the White House hosts all their big events, and more.
"We saw where every President has done a press conference. We all stood in that same spot, so it was really cool to think about throughout history how many majorly important people had been in that room, " said head coach Scott Swanson.
In addition to the White House the team visited several memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial. At the WWII Memorial team members took photos in front of the pillars recognizing their home states before all gathering for a group photo in front of the South Carolina pillar:
The sight-seeing concluded with a sobering experience at the Holocaust Museum, where the team spent about an hour.
"I've done that with other teams before," said Swanson. "It's a good historical perspective on how things happened back then, but I think it's important for the kids to get a reality check every once in a while to see how lucky we are."
With student-athletes and staff from all over the country (and the world - junior Juliette Thevenin is from Belgium!), several of the team members had never had the opportunity to visit D.C. or had only been on field trips early in their childhood. Coach Swanson felt that even those who had been before would appreciate it more now that they are in college and have taken related classes. (Pictured left: the fearless leaders, the staff at the Lincoln Memorial)
Darian Dozier saw it as a unique opportunity to visit home. The freshman is from Sandy Spring, Maryland, not far from D.C.
"It was really fun to go and be able to show my team where I'm from. It was really good to have a lot of my family and friends come to the games because a lot of them wouldn't be able to come to South Carolina," said Dozier.
Team bonding at its finest- climbing trees!
Freshman Litsa Darby of Mount Pleasant, SC, had been to Washington before, but never with an experience quite like this one.
"The White House was awesome. I've never been in the White House before. When Scott told us we got to go, we were all so excited," said Darby. "And I loved getting to bond with all the girls and getting to know them. It was my first away game so that was really cool and exciting."
On the court the Gamecocks defeated West Virginia, George Mason, Niagara, and Navy to win the tournament and extend their undefeated record to 8-0. They'll put that record to the test this weekend when they take on rival Clemson on Friday at 7 p.m.
Get to Friday's match early - the first 200 fans will receive free "Beat Clemson" t-shirts!