The Seattle University women's basketball team is traveling in Costa Rica from Monday, August 19 to Monday, August 26. Stay up-to-date on the team's travels through the following social media outlets. See below as the student-athletes and staff blog throughout the trip. Also, see the attached photo album for photos throughout the trip.

For more information on the trip, click here.

Seattle U Athletics:

Women's Basketball:
Coach Bonvicini Twitter
Coach O'Neill Twitter

Day 7: Head Coach Joan Bonvicini
Our final morning in Costa Rica was a time to enjoy the rainforest. After a brief drive, we entered a private reserve and met our guide, Rafael, for our ‘Rain Forest Adventure’ tour. Our guide had us watch a 10-minute film about the park. We then boarded a tram that took us over the treetops of the rain forest and Rafael explained the diversity of the sites. We saw red-beaked toucans, beautiful butterflies, waterfalls, and spiders. After the 45-minute tram was completed, we hiked the trails and saw even more of the rainforest up close and personal. There are numerous snakes in Costa Rica and many of them are poisonous. Thankfully, the snakes we viewed on our tour were in cages, but still scary.

Once our rainforest tour was completed, we went back to the local beach town, Jaco, for some final souvenir shopping. We encountered our basketball team on the beach and in the water surfing with our resident surf instructor, Caitie Kimura. It was exciting to see and hear the feeling of accomplishment in trying something new for the first time. The remainder of our day was spent at the beautiful pool at our hotel, sharing stories with our staff and team, playing catch with a football in the pool, and just having a blast! We ended the evening with a final dinner with our team, staff, and guests and reflected on the overwhelming adventures we had shared this past week.

It is difficult to put into words all the wonderful experiences we have had during our trip to Costa Rica. For the majority of our players and a few of our staff, this was their first time traveling outside the USA and it could not have gone better. The people of Costa Rica are friendly, warm, and welcoming. The landscape is best described as gorgeous jungles, rainforests, mountains, blue oceans, rivers, and volcanoes. It is pristine beauty!

We came to Costa Rica to play basketball, serve others, explore and experience new adventures and more than anything, become a true team. We accomplished our goal and learned so much more about ourselves in the process. True success is measured by getting out of your comfort zone, overcoming fears and obstacles, and sharing those experiences with others. The Costa Ricans have a name for this...Pura Vida!

Thank you to all our generous donors for making this trip a reality. We appreciate Seattle University and our athletic department for allowing our team to truly embrace our mission of developing and empowering leaders and giving back to others.

Muchas gracias!

Day 6: Associate Head Coach Kristen O'Neill
Hola! Thank you so much for following our travels to Costa Rica! Our fabulous trip is nearing an end. However, perhaps it’s true that we’ve saved the best for last…it’s time for the beach!!

Our Saturday began with a lovely breakfast at the Intercontinental Hotel in San Jose. The coffee here is AMAZING! I’m sure our gracious servers have gotten a kick out of our many refills and asking for “to-go” cups throughout our stay (we have lived up to our Seattle coffee reputation well). With bathing suits under our clothes and coffee cups in our hands, we loaded the bus and began our drive west to the Pacific coast.

Along the way, our fearless tour guide, Daniel, stopped the bus for a photo op with some of the largest crocodiles in Central America. Our entire travel party unloaded the bus and walked in a single file line along a narrow bridge. We looked down to find over a dozen large crocodiles sunning along the bank and floating sneakily in the water. Apparently it is against the law to feed them; however, to our delight (and disgust), some other tourist kept us entertained by throwing raw chicken to their eager jaws below. Yikes!

Jaco Beach was our next stop as we enjoyed a few hours to shop, sun, and get some lunch. Daniel gasped as Kacie, Ashley, and Sylvia got back on the bus with what appeared to be matching “Pura Vida” tattoos. We all had quite the laugh after they explained to him that it was henna.

Upon arrival to the Los Suenos Marriott, we dropped our bags and headed to the pool for a fun game of water volleyball. Even Coach B got in on the action! Those who know Coach B understand how much she hates to lose. Well, let’s just say her team may have lost and her reaction was pure comedy. If Coach Finley is reading this, prepare yourself for Coach B to discuss pool volleyball strategy with you before challenging the team to a rematch.

The time we have spent together over the past week has created memories to last a lifetime. We are so grateful to our generous donors and the Seattle University community that helped make this trip possible. Muchas gracias! Pura Vida!

Day 5: Freshmen Class (Kaylee Best, Claire Metoyer, Alexis Montgomery, Tatiana Howard, Wilma Afunugo)
Hola from the Fab Five Freshmen!

Our final day in the city of San Jose was nothing short of amazing. Early in the morning, we boarded the bus to head to an elementary school in Heredia, Costa Rica. We weren’t given much information about the students prior to our arrival; we had only heard that the majority of these children have had difficult experiences in their home lives. The team and staff walked into the building greeted by clapping and smiling from the students and “professoras”, as if we had already made their day. Coach B was given the microphone so she could stress the importance of education and staying in school, as that is not a common message taught in the majority of these children’s homes. As Coach B said her final words, our translator began to call on students to come to the front of the courtyard and participate in a contest so they could win t-shirts. We played an abundance of games with the students, and there was also participation from the faculty. One game in particular was a relay race between the kids. It required them to dribble to one side of the court and back before the other team’s players finished. Another relay game was played, but instead of dribbling, the students had to shoot the basketball and whichever team made the most shots in 30 seconds won. However, in the end, they were all winners. All the students that participated in these relays won t-shirts. Each of their smiles were full of excitement and appreciation as they received Seattle U Basketball shirts, and even more so when we decided to hand out candy. Although our visit meant a lot to the children, their excitement and smiles meant more to us as a team. Many of the younger children ran up to us when it was time to go, giving us kisses on the cheek and numerous hugs. The faculty invited us into their cafeteria to give us sandwiches and homemade “arroz con leche” (a Spanish version of rice pudding) as a gesture of gratitude. The experience we had with the children of Heredia and the wonderful people we were able to meet was one our team will never forget. We headed back to the hotel and were able to spend the rest of the day relaxing and sharing photos from our rafting trip the day before.

We boarded the bus once again to the gym for our third and final game of the trip. We played a women’s club team at the same location as our previous game. We played well together as a team and continued to improve throughout the game. At the end of the game, we were able to interact with the other team and gave them Seattle U pins prior to taking a photo together.

After the game, we headed to a local Costa Rican restaurant that was ¡Muy delicioso! The waiters were very enthusiastic that they were able to serve “basketbolistas” and even asked to take photos with us. Overall, our final day in San Jose was a great experience and an amazing opportunity, but we are ready for the coast! ¡Pura Vida!

Game 3 Recap
Seattle University women's basketball faced the Goicoechea Women's Club Team in the third and final game of their Costa Rican tour. The Redhawks emerged victorious, 83-35, going 2-1 during the trip after beating the Costa Rican National Team on Tuesday, Aug. 20. The same five starters as the previous two games started the third game - Kacie Sowell, Ashley Ward, Sylvia Shephard, Kaylee Best, and Taelor Ross. Seattle U kept the other team under double digit scoring figures until near halftime, leading 42-10 at the half. Senior Kacie Sowell led SU with 21 points, including 10 points in the first quarter alone. Freshman Tatiana Howard added 10 points while freshman Claire Metoyer added nine. 13 of 14 Redhawks contributed to the final score. 

Days 3-4: Sophomore Class (Catherine Perez, Kristin Stoffel, Kim Flournoy, Taelor Ross)
Yesterday, we had our second game of the trip against a 19U boys club team. The gym was in better condition than the first, but still had concrete floors. We warmed up in a square box, which was quite a memorable moment. The game was not our best, but it was definitely interesting playing a boys team. Our day concluded at midnight, which was quite late considering we had a 5:45 a.m. wake-up call this morning.

The day started with a delicious breakfast at the hotel. We then had a two and a half hour bus ride to the Pacuare River for a white water rafting experience. We all fell asleep on this wonderful bus ride with our hotel pillows. Once we arrived at the location, we applied our sunscreen and bug spray and broke into our boat groups. We got into yet another bus for a 30 minute drive to the top of the mountain where we received a safety briefing.

Once on the river, we were in for a wild ride. We worked our way up to class four rapids, which were definitely the highlight of the trip. A few people fell out of the boats, including our one and only Kim. She describes the tumble as “life changing”. Her boat group quickly rescued her. Claire tried her hardest, but it took a full team effort to get Kim out of the water. During the flat parts of the river, we were able to splash the other teams and float down the river outside the boat. It was a pretty enjoyable experience, and Costa Rica provided some pretty amazing scenery. We saw lots of different things that enforced the biodiversity of Costa Rica – waterfalls, tropical birds, butterflies, and rock sculptures.

During some of the rapids, different boat groups were able to do certain tricks. For example, Kristin and Cat’s boat was able to spin down the rapids and another time, they were able to stand up and “surf” down it. Overall, everyone had a really good time white water rafting.

We finished our long day at dinner with the most beautiful view of the city! We had a traditional Costa Rican meal – rice, beans, and our choice of chicken or steak. After dinner, the restaurant provided entertainment where we were able to watch Costa Rican dancers perform!

This day was pretty special and definitely one for the memory books! It also happened to be one of our freshmen, Claire Metoyer’s 18th birthday! We were so glad that we could all spend it with her in this way. Happy birthday to Claire! And as the Costa Ricans would say, Pura Vida!

Game 2 Recap
Seattle University women's basketball played the second of three contests during their foreign tour in Costa Rica, facing the Goicoechea Club Team (19U boys).  Kacie Sowell, Sylvia Shephard, Ashley Ward, Taelor Ross, and Kaylee Best got their second start of the week, with subs coming in and out in groups of five. Despite coming within five in the third quarter, 30-25, SU fell 58-40. 11 of 14 Redhawks made scoring contributions, as freshmen Kaylee Best and Claire Metoyer led the team with six points apiece. In a change of plans, the Redhawks will now face a local club team in their third and final game in Costa Rica on Friday, Aug. 23. (Note: These contests do not officially count towards season totals).

Day 2: Junior Class (Makenna Clark, Renee Dillard-Brown)
Last night was our first game in Costa Rica! We played the Costa Rican National Team, and they were a scrappier, more physical, and faster team than we anticipated. They were unabashed and came out full force. Although it was not a pretty game, and we had a few too many turnovers, it was a good win for our first game together. We maintained a high field goal percentage and it was a good first test for our team as a whole.

The gym we played in was nothing like we had ever seen before. It was a very humbling experience to see the concrete floor with only paint to mark the court, wooden backboards, plastic, taped together nets, and no toilet paper in the bathrooms. We played on a covered outdoor court, so when it got dark, the lights inside attracted the moths and mosquitoes. A few minutes after the game ended, the gym manager shut off the lights, so we had to make our way to change clothes and get back to the bus in almost pure darkness. Everyone had their iPhone camera lights on to guide the way. After the game, we had a great dinner to end the night and came back to the hotel for some much needed rest.

The word for today is exhilarating. Zip lining in the rainforest of Costa Rica was nothing short of this. The experience was a first for most of us and it exceeded everyone’s expectations. We got outside of our comfort zones, built trust among each other and got to experience Costa Rica from over 300 ft in the air. Zip lining consisted of about 10 zip lines of various distances before reaching the grand finale – a zip line that was a quarter of a mile long. Some of the zip lines connected together while others required some walking and mild hiking to reach. Many of us really had to step outside our comfort zones to try the first zip line but once that hurdle was cleared, we could not wait to take on the next. In between hiking and our turns on the zip line, we took many pictures to capture this great experience. Overall, it was the experience of a lifetime, and we are grateful for the opportunity to participate in such adventures that not many others are fortunate enough to take part in.

Game 1 Recap
Seattle U defeated the Costa Rican National Team, 59-50, in the first of three games while on their foreign tour. The Redhawks led through the majority of the game, which consisted of four 10-minute quarters. Kacie Sowell, Taelor Ross, Ashley Ward, Sylvia Shephard, and Kaylee Best made up the starting lineup. All five of the incoming freshmen saw playing time, with four making scoring contributions. Sowell and Ross led the team with 16 points apiece. In the remaining two games, Seattle U will face the Goicoechea Club Team (19U boys) on Wednesday, Aug. 21 before facing the Costa Rican National Team for a second time on Friday, Aug. 23. (Note: These contests do not officially count towards season totals).

Day 1: Senior Class (Ashley Ward, Kacie Sowell, Sylvia Shephard)
Hola de Costa Rica! This is the SoCal Mafia checking in after day one. We started our trip early yesterday, leaving Connolly at 5 am. Our first flight was all about sleep, arriving in Dallas at lunchtime. We had enough time between flights to roam the airport and stretch our legs before our final boarding to the natural wonders of Costa Rica. It was a long flight filled with views of lightning in the distant clouds. Touch down in Costa Rica was at 7pm, and with passports in hand, we were ready to go through immigration. Overall, the travel went smoothly other than a couple misplaced bags. At this time we met out tour guides for the trip, Dani and Tim. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming towards us. After a quick check-in, we ate dinner in the hotel and the team went for a  dip in the beautiful pool. We were all very anxious to get sleep to prepare for our busy day on Tuesday.

Tuesday started with a buffet breakfast with lots of good food and local produce. After breakfast, we took the bus through downtown San Jose where Dani shared stories and facts about Costa Rica. We also had time to get out of the bus to walk around and shop at a market area. After the tour we went back to the hotel to relax and prepare for our first game against the Costa Rican National Team. So far we have enjoyed every bit of Costa Rica. Until next time, SoCal Mafia out!


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