The NCAA allows university sports teams to travel out of the country to play against international teams every four years. California Baptist University women’s volleyball has the opportunity to travel to Japan in May to do just that.
“We plan to take the team and play against some competitive teams and hopefully have a chance to meet and connect with teams over there,” said Branden Higa, head coach of the women’s volleyball team.
Travelling outside of the country would be a first for the women’s volleyball team. Higa and the players said they are excited at the possibility of getting a chance to play overseas.
Elizabeth Gilley, junior cultural studies major and defensive specialist, said the team is also looking forward to learning experiences off the court while overseas.
“We are going to Japan because our team is looking forward to playing volleyball outside of the U.S., and to see the different styles of play other teams might have,” Gilley said. “We also want to experience a different culture and to play against schools from another country.”
Natalie Zimmerer, junior marketing major and redshirt, emphasized the role these trips play in uniting the team.
“It is also another way for us to bond,” Zimmerer said. “It’s a new experience that none of us have gotten to do before and the great thing is that we get to do it together.”
To finance their trip to Japan, the team needs to raise approximately $25,000 by early next year. The team has already started fundraising.
“It’s reaching out to friends of the programs, families and supporters of CBU Athletics and just trying to appeal to them to help make this trip happen,” Higa said. “It’s a big undertaking and we get a lot of support from the community, and we are hoping we can do enough to make it happen.”
The team is working hard at fundraising by making phone calls and reaching out to the community, as well as hosting camps for players who are not at college—level yet.
“We have been fundraising over the years with our volleyball camps during the summer,” Gilley said. “It’s for the younger players who aren’t playing at the college—level. We help them with fundamentals, and we help coach players up until their senior year in high school.”
Hana Okuhara, freshman health science major and setter, said she is working on a video project to reach out to potential supporters.
“I translated a video in Japanese to help us get a few more sponsors for our fundraiser,” Okuhara said.
Volleyball closed out its season in fourth place in the conference with a record of 9-7.