“Ron Smith, who I’ve known my whole life, put the trip together,” said Robert Corn, former head coach for Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball team and the director of alumni relations for athletics. “He coached at Southern Illinois University and Iowa State, and started putting together these tours for USA Sports Tours & Events.
“He had been doing it for Division III for several years and approached me to put together men’s and women’s Division II teams.”
The tours can become “fantastic lifetime memories for our athletes, coaches, administration, families and boosters,” Smith states on his website.
Teams of nine men and women from Missouri Southern, Pittsburg State, Emporia and other schools in the MIAA arrived in Brazil on Aug. 3, along with coaching staff. Both teams ended the tour with a 3-1 record against international teams. Some games were played in open-air gymnasiums.
Along the way, they saw sights such as Sugarloaf Mountain and the famous Christ the Redeemer Statue, enjoyed a stay on the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro and toured facilities that will be utilized by Olympic athletes in 2016.
“I was really impressed with the way the girls handled that kind of travel,” said Ronda Hubbard, women’s basketball coach and coach for the women’s team in Brazil. “We beat a professional team during a really hard-fought game … a couple of the games were very competitive.”
Corn said the country’s beauty far exceeded any expectations he had for the trip.
“The biggest thing was the opportunity to see a beautiful country and enjoy a different culture,” he said. “And any time you can play teams from another country, it’s a big deal.”