It’s the Hawaii soccer team’s turn.
Following foreign offseason expeditions by other UH sports programs in recent years, coach Michele Nagamine’s team will head to Spain for a 10-day trip in spring break, over late March and early April. It will be the program’s first NCAA-sanctioned foreign tour.
They will play two exhibitions and spectate two other pro matches. The travel party includes basically the entire 2016 roster, except for senior Elise Wassner, who declined to go, and freshman Hannah Gardner, who transferred at semester break.
“It’s been in the works for a long time. Just raising money and (now) we’re in that last push,” Nagamine said.
“We actually just started to formally put out ‘The Road to Spain 2017′ late last year. So people who wanted to specifically donate to that cause can do so. People have been very supportive. The trip is costing about $3,700 per person.”
She said players’ families are fronting the cost until fundraising efforts are able to fully pay them back.
“Because this year’s senior class was so special to our team, the team really wanted to involve them in the trip, which is why we pushed for the time frame,” Nagamine said. “We easily could’ve taken this trip in 2018 but we really wanted our (2016)-2017 seniors to be a part of it, for all they’ve done for our program.”
Spain was an appealing choice for obvious reasons.
“What we wanted to do, with Barcelona being such a soccer-crazy city, and Spain being such a — the level of football there is very, very good,” Nagamine said. “Barcelona is legendary. We’ll get to tour their stadium.”
She added that the high-level club teams will be off that week as their players play for their respective countries for World Cup qualifying matches.
“Unfortunately we won’t see Messi. … We couldn’t help the timing. The kids can’t miss school in the spring. We were deciding between Italy and Spain and it came down to Spain.”
UH will play matches in Barcelona and Madrid and will see second-division teams in action.
“Anything we see is going to be amazing,” Nagamine said.
To assist in the team’s trip fundraising efforts, visit its program donation page here.
Meanwhile, two all-Big West members of UH’s outgoing senior class have been invited for pro tryouts in the National Women’s Soccer League. Addie Steiner will attend a camp while Storm Kenui is headed to a couple of open tryouts.
Wahine soccer legend Natasha Kai played with Sky Blue FC in the NWSL last season.