Joining athletes from around the world, two Trailblazers participated in Costa Rica’s Volleyball Tour.
Beyond Sports, founded in 2010, is the first study abroad program designed for student athletes. It has hosted athletes at 350 different colleges around the America.
Being part of the Beyond Sports group, the duo was able to visit Manuel Antonio National Park and Arenal Volcano during their time there. They also were able to see the scenic rainforest, hot springs and monkeys, toucans and iguanas.
Sidney Brandon, a junior psychology major from Bountiful, and Taylor Tibbetts, a sophomore sociology major from Tenino, Washington, traveled to Costa Rica (from May 15-23) with the Beyond Sports group. The girls joined a team of ten USA players.
Brandon and Tibbetts, along with a team of all conference honorees and statistical leaders from colleges all over the country competed along side semi-pro, pro teams and clubs made of athletes from around the world.
“I definitely like playing against University of Costa Rica because it was in their gym,” said Tibbetts. “It was so different than the USA.”
In order to be part of the tour the athletes must recieve a personal invitation via email as well as an email from the coaches of the program.
“I think we do really well against the competition,” Brandon said. “We would have people come up to us and say, ‘you guys are good; come transfer to our school.’”
Among many athletes they were able to help with sports clinics for the youth of Costa Rica. Both Brandon and Tibetts interacted with kids and were able to teach them how to bump, set and spike.
“Being able to connect with various players and having the girls come together to play a sport against people we didn’t know was a cool experience,” Tibbetts said.
Because the girls didn’t speak Spanish, they needed a translator. Nevertheless, by the time they left, they had learned several words and phrases.
Both girls said that playing volleyball in Costa Rica benefited them because they were able to practice and compete competitively during their off season.
Their hope for other teammates is that, if given the opportunity they would accept it because it teaches you to appreciate the game.
Jaclyn Condie, a senior exercise science major from Cottonwood Heights expressed her love for Brandon and Tibetts along with the volleyball team.
“It’s nice to have friends not only on the court but off the court as well,” she said.
After leaving Costa Rica, both players were able to make friendships that will last a lifetime. Brandon loved playing volleyball in Costa Rica so much that she might play beach volleyball with the same program next year.