Summer is always a busy travel time for University of Miami women’s basketball coach Katie Meier with recruiting, clinics and U.S. youth national team duties, but this year’s itinerary includes a few particularly special trips.
Meier traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, over the Fourth of July weekend for the Women’s World Cup final and cheered her lungs out as Carli Lloyd led the Americans to victory. Meier is a friend of U.S. coach Jill Ellis through mutual coaching friends and said she has enjoyed talking shop and learning from Ellis, who lives in Palmetto Bay.
They played a couple rounds of golf at Deering Bay earlier this summer, and Meier found herself comparing basketball and soccer strategy with Ellis using sugar packets at the clubhouse restaurant. Meier also picked Ellis’ brain about handling personnel issues, such as how she integrated veteran star Abby Wambach into a backup role.
Meier plans to use the knowledge with her team this season and hopes an upcoming 10-day, four-game trip to Europe will help with team bonding. The Hurricanes leave Sunday and will visit Amsterdam, Paris and Waregem, Belgium, where Meier played professionally. They will play against the team and coach she played for, in the same arena. Former UM player Latoya Drake plays for the Waregem team.
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The town is also the site of Flanders Field, a WWI American cemetery where 411 U.S. servicemen are buried. The Hurricanes plan to visit the cemetery.
“I still have dear friends over there, know all the little restaurants, it’s going to be like old home week for me,” Meier said.
In Amsterdam, they will visit the Anne Frank house and play against incoming UM freshmen Laura Cornelius and Emese Hof, who are members of the Dutch U19 national team and teammates at CTO Amsterdam academy. They helped lead Netherlands to a bronze medal at the U20 European championships this summer and a ninth place at the U19 World Championship.
Cornelius — “a John Stockton-type guard,” in Meier’s words — led all players at worlds with 6.7 assists per game, and Hof, a 6-3 post player, was top five in six categories. Meier coached against them with the U.S. Under-19 national team and was very impressed.
“They’re so good, this is a really big deal that we got both of them,” Meier said. “We hoped to get one, and we got both.”
Amsterdam will be especially meaningful for UM guard Adrienne Motley, who was born there to military parents who were stationed there. Her mother was in the Army, her father in the Air Force. They moved back to the United States when she was 2, and she has never been back.
“My parents always talk about how beautiful it is, so I can’t wait to see it for myself,” she said.
The highlight in Paris, say UM players, will be the Eiffel Tower. Most of the Hurricanes have never traveled overseas, so they are nervously excited.
“You see those places, like the Eiffel Tower, in movies, but now we get to see all that history in person,’’ Jessica Thomas said. “Just getting my first passport was exciting.’’
“Let’s just say that a lot of selfies will be taken over those 10 days,” Motley said.