DEFIANCE, OHIO – The Defiance College men's soccer team spent their spring break in a more nontraditional way as they saw international professional teams, ordered food at local markets, and visited the many tourist attractions both Madrid and Barcelona, Spain had to offer.
The Yellow Jackets traveled 21 student-athletes and their families for the 10 day trip, promoted by Harvard Sports, where they trained in a professional setting with guidance from one of the local Madrid Professional Coaches. DC competed in three games with the first being in Madrid where the Purple and Gold tied 2-2 following penalties. The Yellow Jackets then moved on to play another local Madrid Youth Academy, before closing out the trip with a game against a local professional team.
"Going to Spain and playing felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity and was something I had to do," said sophomore Bennett Pack (Glasgow, Ky.). "Going along with my team made it an even more enjoyable experience. Getting to play against much better talent than what we are used to I think made us better in the sense that we were able to compete at a higher level."
"Playing against the Spanish style of soccer was a good experience for the team. It brought us closer and gave us confidence doing as well as we did against good teams," senior Adam Ordel (Lima, Ohio).
"Traveling abroad, in general, was an incredible experience that I never anticipated," added sophomore Marcelino Gonzalez (East Chicago, Ill.). "In a soccer perspective, It was eye-opening and offered me the opportunity to learn about soccer from a completely different perspective. Not only did I learn about the game in a new view, but I was also able to learn different ways in which to play the game."
Despite the humbling experiences on the pitch, the men also got to play tourist in their spare time. The team visited monumental places such as the medieval city of Toledo, Bernabeu Stadium where they watched a Champions League game between Real Madrid and Ajax Amsterdam, Guell Parc and Sagrada Familia to name a few.
"The most memorable sites we visited in each city had to be the soccer stadiums: the Camp Nou in Barcelona (home of Barcelona) and the Santiago Bernabeu (home of Real Madrid) in Madrid," stated Gonzalez. "The environments of the stadiums while watching the matches were breathtaking and are experiences I hope to experience at least once more in my life."
"There were many memorable sites that we went to throughout Madrid and Barcelona," added Pack. "I'm not sure I had a particular favorite, but I did enjoy our bike tour through Madrid and also really enjoyed training at the different facilities. I particularly enjoyed the training with the Spanish coach who had recently coached at teams like Athletico Madrid and Chelsea."
Defiance closed out the trip with a visit to the classic city of Girona where they attended a Professional game between Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano and explored the local shopping and sweeping views of medieval architecture.
The international trip is held every four years under current NCAA rules, with DC looking into potential trips to Germany and England for the 2023 season.