A Summer Adventure: Culture, History and Softball

A Summer Adventure:  Culture, History and Softball

Rising senior Raven Freret enjoyed a unique summer trip in representing Leopard Softball as a member of USA Athletes International (USAAI).

A three-time All-SCIAC performer during her career with the Leos, Freret traveled with Team USAAI to Europe for a softball tournament (June 22-July 1) as part of Prague Softball Week. The squad spent a day in Berlin, Germany before traveling to Prague, Czech Republic, for the remainder of the trip.  The team consisted of players from Divisions I, II and III.

"The only thing I didn't like about the travel portion was how long it actually took to get there," she said.  "The longest flight I had taken before this trip was 5.5 hours and this trip took about 20.  However, it did give me a chance to get to know my teammates before we got there."

The trip marked Freret's first-ever venture overseas and she admitted experiencing her share of culture shock, but she eventually was able to adapt and adjust.  "It was kind of surreal being in a place where you were labelled as the foreigner," she said.   "Although some of their customs were different to ours it wasn't hard settling in to their Eurpoean lifestyles."

On the diamond, Freret split time playingfirst base and designated player during the team's six games.  She said she enjoyed her playing experience and was happy with her overall performance.  Her USAAI squad came in third in the tournament with a 3-3 overall record.  "One of the highlights from the trip was just getting the opportunity to play teams from a different country," she said.  "We played teams from Russia, Germany and Czech Republic and aside from a few minor rule changes, the game was still the same.  It showed me and my team just how universal this sport is."

Freret also recalled a chance to visit a very different area of the city which spoke to the era during World War II.  "During our last day of the trip we had the opportunity to visit the Terezin concentration camp and poverty-stricken communities," she said.   "While there, we were told the city itself had been built as a ghetto and was used in propaganda videos.  They said the camp area was about 90% original because when World War II had ended they didn't tear it down like they did to Auschwitz and Dachau."  She said it was an "indescribable feeling" in taking the tour through the camp and getting a better understanding of the history.  "Just knowing what had happened there and being able to walk where they did is something I'll never forget."

For Freret, her takeaway from the trip was being able to see a different side of the world while playing the sport she loves.  She described her summer journey as truly valuable while providing a new perspective.   "Playing against people who didn't even speak the same language while also being able to tour historical places made for a great trip and a fantastic overall learning experience."