Being an athlete often forces one to forgo vacations, especially when they occur in season. But for Penn women's basketball, that just isn't a problem.
Over Thanksgiving break next season, the Quakers will be heading down to the Bahamas to participate in the Junkanoo Jam, the team announced earlier today. The annual event consists of two separate four-team bracket, with two guaranteed games for each team. Penn will open against Georgia Tech, then play either Baylor or Missouri State in the second round.
While this exotic location is new for the Red and Blue, traveling far distances to get experience against non-conference opponents has been a focus during coach Mike McLaughlin's tenure. Just last year, the team opened their season in North Carolina against Duke and spent part of winter break in California. In previous years, the team has taken trips to Hawaii, Miami and Italy.
"Our players hear me say it a lot, but it is true," McLaughlin said. "Their time as a student-athlete at Penn is all about the experience. We play to win no matter where we go, but it's not always just about basketball. These are trips, moments and games that they will remember their entire lives, and that's what these four years are truly about—strengthening friendships and making memories that will last a lifetime."
The tournament, which began in 2002, has played host to perennial contenders from around the nation. Previous champions of the Jam include South Carolina, Tennessee and Notre Dame. The high level of competition will prove vital for the Quakers as they embark on defending their Ivy League title.
The two games at the Jam are the first to be announced for the Quakers' 2017-2018 campaign, with the rest of the schedule set to come out later in the summer. But these two games, and the accompanying trip, will give the Red and Blue something to look forward to as they await the season.
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