Two members of Queens College’s women’s basketball team went on a 12-day trip to Italy this past summer.
Seniors Kristen Korzevinski and Elisabeth Gully travelled to Italy with American International Sports Teams, an organization bringing American athletes for international competitions, for four exhibition games against professional Italian teams.
Korzevinski and Gully heard about AIST through head coach Bet Naumovski.
“It was a no-brainer to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Gully said.
Once they heard about the program and read its specifics, they knew it was something they wanted to join.
“What interested me most was the opportunity to travel and play the sport that I love in another country while representing the USA and Queens College,” Korzevinski said.
The team was coached by Shannon Kynoch, the head coach of women’s basketball at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. The players played in Florence, Milan, Rome and Vatican City. Both ladies impressed overseas.
“Elizabeth was one of two forwards on the roster so we needed her to step up and guard players bigger than she, all while dominating the paint offensively and being a force on the boards,” Kynoch said.
Kristen simply let her game speak for itself. She used her speed and athleticism to get steals that led to fast break opportunities, hit open jump shots and snuck in for numerous offensive rebounds that were critical.”
Meanwhile, the team also enjoyed the time off the court to explore Italy.
“I was able to spend time with [the two players] while walking around, seeing the sights and really valued the time we spent chatting,” Kynoch said. “They are mature young woman who really took advantage of the opportunity.”
In spite of the challenges, the players felt confident in overcoming them.
“There is definitely a different feel to the game when playing against a foreign team, especially when you hear them communicating with each other on the court in a completely different language. We played professional teams that have been practicing and playing together for much longer than our team had been,” Gully said.
The trip to Italy went beyond more than just basketball as bringing the international community together was a central theme of the trip.
“Learning to work with complete strangers to reach a common goal was difficult, but that happens all of the time in the real world,” Gully said. “I was lucky enough to have this opportunity to prepare me for real world situations, and I was able to learn ways to work with a lot of different people, get things done and still have fun all at the same time.”
Additionally, Kynoch enjoyed meeting and speaking with both players during the trip.
“Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better trip and having Elizabeth and Kristen there was great. As I mentioned before, it’s really a fun thing to get to know people outside of the game of basketball,” Kynoch said.
Now Korzevinski and Gully, along with Naumovski, turn their attention to the upcoming season and are optimistic to get back on the court.
“We essentially have our whole team back. With 10 returning players and not losing anyone to graduation since last year, the team this year is even more experienced than last year. This is one of the mature squads we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Naumovski said.
The Lady Knights captured the East Coast Conference title in their last season. Although, the team suffered a first round loss to Stonehill in the NCAA Championship. Overall, the team finished the season with a 22-8 record.
“I think we definitely have the ability to contend for a conference championship again. Whether we win the conference or not, we want to get ranked top eight again and get a second crack at the tournament,” Naumovski said.
The Knights return to action on Nov. 14 on the road against Philadelphia University.