L-R, Chayse Elliott, Kip Owens, Justin Ward.
Photo courtesy of UAH.
HUNTSVILLE | UAH men's basketball players Chayse Elliott (former Cold Springs Eagle), Kip Owens, and Justin Ward spent the last gasps of their summer break on another continent, going on a week-long tour with USA Sports Tours and Events in Brazil.
The team was made up of invited NCAA Division II basketball players from throughout the country.
The trip served the purpose of highlighting the talents of the group while also exposing the team to educational, cultural, and social aspects of Brazilian life.
"I would say one of the coolest parts of the trip was after every game, we traded gear with the locals and were all treated like superstars," Elliott said. "It was a great feeling, and seeing what the Brazilian people face day-to-day was very humbling and put a lot of things into perspective."
The three Chargers and their teammates took on teams from Jundiai Basketball Club, Paulistano Athletic Club, Celso Balboa University, and Flumanese Athletic Club.
But as was the case for Elliott, Ward earned much more from the trip than just playing in four basketball contests.
"After the first game we played, we traded jerseys and shirts with some of the Brazilian kids and man, they had the best day of their lives receiving our gear and taking pictures with us," Ward said. "I even had several kids write me on social media, telling me this was the best thing that had ever happened to them."
And this experience was made that much better for the trio since they were able to experience it together as they have been since starting their time at UAH.
"This truly was the opportunity of a lifetime, and to experience it with two of my best friends was such a tremendous pleasure," said Owens. "This trip has undoubtedly made memories that will last a lifetime."
In addition to the competition aspect of the trip, the group also saw many of Brazil's top tourist attractions, staying on Copacabana Beach and visiting one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in the Christ the Redeemer statue.
"We are extremely excited about the experience all three of our rising seniors had this summer playing in Brazil," said UAH head coach Lennie Acuff. "They were afforded the opportunity to compete with and against high level players as well as being able to travel to a part of the world that would have never been possible without this tour. I have received nothing but positive feedback from the tour administrators in regards to how well each of our players performed on the court and what a impression they made off the court as young men of the highest character. We will be relying heavily on Chayse, Kip and Justin this season to continue the tradition of seniors who cap off their careers at UAH with an outstanding year."
The three seniors and their teammates are now back on the UAH campus as classes for the fall semester start on Wednesday.