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SMC Soccer: Belles travel to British isles, train for season

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, February 6, 2007

For the first time in Saint Mary’s history, a Belles team will travel overseas to participate in international competition – specifically, a little European football.

The Belles soccer team, which finished regular season play at 5-8-2, will spend 10 days training in England and Scotland this July.

Saint Mary’s, led by third-year coach Caryn MacKenzie, will depart for Edinburgh, Scotland July 23 and return in time to start its regular training schedule for the fall. After spending the first three days in Scotland, the Belles will head to Manchester, England and then London before returning to the United States.

“I hope the camaraderie will help us grow as a team and bring us closer together, and just give them a lifetime experience that they will never forget,” MacKenzie said.

The team will meet with a professional trainer in Manchester and compete in four friendly matches with teams of comparable skill levels. The trip, however, is not purely business. Mackenzie hopes to get in a good deal of sightseeing and to expose her team to a new culture.

“When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to travel with the team to Scotland one summer,” said MacKenzie, who played for Quincy University. “It was awesome to be able to travel abroad with my teammates.”

Being able to share that experience with her new team has been a dream of MacKenize’s since she signed on with the Belles in 2003. After checking with Saint Mary’s Athletic Director Stephen Hinkel, she began researching the trip.

The Belles selected Go Play Sports, a well-established travel agency based in Boston, Mass., that specializes in this type of event, to organize the tour.

The last obstacle that the team is currently in the process of hurdling is the fundraising to fray the hefty costs of international travel. Members of the team have been working for over two years now to collect money by parking cars during Notre Dame home football games.

“As a Division-III school, there are opportunities we can’t really give our athletes because we don’t have a huge budget,” MacKenzie said.

The Belles are also auctioning a chance to win a four-day, three-night stay in Paris with the purchase of a $10 raffle ticket. The drawing will take place during Saint Mary’s final home basketball game Feb. 17 against Hope College at 3 p.m.