Nearly 100 University High School soccer players, family members, and coaches will embark on the trip of a lifetime shortly after school lets out next week.
For 14 days – from June 28 to July 12 – the group will visit Spain (Madrid and San Sebastian) and Portugal (Lisbon) for soccer and sightseeing.
This is the third quadrennial Europe trip for the University High School soccer program, and the trip has grown substantially each year. The first trip in 2009 included 34 people, and the second in 2013 (pictured here) had 67. As the school has grown, so has the trip, and 94 people (plus coaches) will travel this summer.
While soccer is always a key component of the trip, this year’s itinerary is very different. Rather than simply training and scrimmaging, the boys and girls soccer players will compete in one of Spain’s biggest international soccer tournaments, The Donosti Cup.
“I’m excited about the soccer,” said Wes Priest, head coach of the boys soccer team and organizer of this trip. “We’re staying in this one town, San Sebastian, where they have a six-day tournament [The Donosti Cup]. There are 15,000 players from five different continents, so we’ll be playing teams from Russia, South Africa, and more.”
The Trailblazers will compete as three separate teams – two boys teams and one girls team. They’ll compete back-to-back in the mornings, and then players and their family members will spend the afternoons exploring the city and surrounding countryside.
“San Sebastian sits on the border of France, right in Basque Country,” said Priest. “There are mountains and this beautiful little jewel of a city, and we’re staying right on a beach in the college dorms.”
In addition to Priest, soccer coaches Chris Morrison and Maddy MacAllister are also attending. As is Kris Schepers, University High School’s athletic trainer. The adults are excited about the opportunity to travel with students and see them interact with other players.
“I just can’t wait for the kids to interact with people from all over the world,” said Priest. “They [tournament organizers] have all of these neat things planned and all these ways for these kids to interact with one another, like discos at night, fireworks, etc. It’s going to be super cool.”