DePaul softball arrived safely back in Chicago on Sunday evening after - by all accounts - an amazing 10-day adventure, spanning Paris and Amiens, France as well as Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands.
Here's head coach Eugene Lenti and shortstop Allie Braden recapping the last two days of the trip for everyone who has been following along stateside.
Saturday, August 17
From Paris to Amsterdam, from the River Seine to the Amstel River, from St. Vincent de Paul to Vincent van Gogh, what a truly amazing experience! Alongside of our four Women's College World Series appearances, this trip is a historic highlight for DePaul Softball!
You all would be very proud of the way our team represented themselves and DePaul. To see their willingness to help the aspiring young softball and baseball players of Haarlem and Alkmaar was inspiring. Coaches Chouinard and Tarulli were instrumental in the success of our clinics, and in keeping the team on task throughout our trip. More important than what our young campers learned about softball was what we all learned after the clinics about each other's culture.
This was on display throughout our trip. So many of the people we encountered in both Paris and Amsterdam were more than willing to share their stories with us. Two in particular that stood out for me were: Angelina, who was our waitress one night. She told us how she came to Amsterdam from Venezuela in search of work. She speaks seven different languages - mostly self-taught. We had an interesting conversation about workers rights in the Netherlands, and why tipping is appreciated but not expected in European restaurants.
The other was at Haesje Claes, a restaurant across the street from our hotel. There Kandace and I met Dario DeBenedictis, an Italian from Bari. He was visiting from The Hague, where he now lives. He is a geologist who left Italy also to find a job. He worked in Scotland, then London, and now resides and works in the Netherlands. After about an hour of conversation about many varied topics, Kandace and I said our goodbyes and left with Darios number - for if we were ever in the neighborhood!
So many people were responsible for the success of this trip and I'd like to take some time to thank them.
First and foremost, to Fr. Ed, who guided us on our trip. You are, as Kandace would say, "phenomenal!" Thank you for helping me make this trip possible, and for enhancing it in so many ways. I don't think Kandace will ever be able to vacation without you. Thank you also for showing us how great a man Saint Vincent was, and how special it is to be a member of the DePaul community.
Thanks to Joop (said like, "Yoop"), our bus driver who was so much more. Joop was a wealth of information, and I can honestly say I have never felt safer on a bus! That is saying a lot when you consider all the cars, bikes and people who roam the streets of Amsterdam.
Thanks to all the relatives who traveled with us. We not only learned stories about people from around the world, but also from people in our own backyard. Our big communal meals afforded us the opportunity to break bread with various groups throughout our trip. I learned that everyone has a tale to tell. Thanks too for your willingness to help out on all occasions.
Thanks to our athletic staff that accompanied us. Kate O'Brien and Jeff Carrico were there always ready to take a picture, or help with luggage, or lend some first aid.
Thank you so much to Kathryn (you probably need a vacation now) for being the driving force in making this happen. You did an excellent job with Fr. Ed in planning this trip and in keeping us all on time throughout.
Thanks to Jeanne for creating this opportunity and then allowing softball to take advantage of it. I am already thinking of ways to raise money for a 2017 trip.
Finally, to all of you who are apart of the DePaul Softball family, thank you for giving of your time, your talent or your treasures to help make this trip possible.
Merci times infinity!- Eug
Friday, August 16
Today was what we called our, "free day," meaning that we could go and explore on our own! Even though the tours were an amazing experience, having time to go and explore on our own gave us a better feel for the city and the culture of Amsterdam.
Exploring the streets of Amsterdam opened my eyes to many different cultural traditions. As you walk by the little canals that accompany almost every street, you find rows and rows of bikes followed by little souvenir shops and famous ice cream shops.
This trip has been one for the books. We, as a team, have been so blessed with all of these opportunities that have been given to us and we want to thank everyone who has helped make this happen.
This is a once in a lifetime experience for us all and has brought us even closer as a group.- Allie Braden