It was about three months ago, but so much has changed in the world when it comes to travel and athletic teams competing and creating memories together.
On February 2, 2020 the Atlanta Vipers 05 Gold team landed after an 18-hour, 8,100 mile trip halfway around the world as the travel ball squad visited Taichung, Taiwan, to participate in a week-long international tournament.
The trip was a result of Coach Stacy Tamborra’s work with the Chinese Taipei National Softball team in 2019, while the foundation for this once-in-a-lifetime experience for all concerned was put in place years ago.
One of Coach Tamborra’s missions when she started the team was to create lifelong experiences and memories for these young players as they developed and competed at the highest level.
“This trip was a memory that the young ladies as well as the parents who traveled to Taiwan will have for lifetime,” says Tamborra, who pitched at Florida State from 1996-99 and earned All-ACC honors.
The Vipers had the opportunity to work out and practice with members of the Chinese Taipei national team throughout the winter and spring while they were in Atlanta preparing for their Olympic trial play.
The team even had the opportunity to play the Chinese Taipei National Team, just days before they (Chinese Taipei) took on the USA National Team.
This, in itself, says Tamborra was “a pretty awesome experience for the girls, given that the USA Team, which has so many of the ladies that the Vipers follow, were playing on the team that they had faced days earlier. It is this experience that led to the invitation for the team to participate in the 2020 tournament.”
Prior to the trip, the team and parents had many questions, as expected, with some based on the limited views and stories that are seen on TV. They also had some unfounded assumptions on the level of play they would face.
“We came back home with totally different perspectives,” says the Vipers coach.
The team also had the opportunity to visit some of the sites unique to Taiwan, such as the Chung Tai Chan Monastery, and try new foods. The coaches and player also went to multiple malls rivaling the size, prices and luxury of Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza that were filled with people like they would see home.
On the softball field the Vipers played many of the top teams in Taiwan, all of which were from schools (colleges and high school) where the girls reside, study and train with the intentions of one day being on their national team.
“Our team quickly saw that the level of play was far more advanced than they expected,” adds the coach. “In addition, our players saw the passion and preparation that the ladies on these teams put into the game.”
“Passion and preparation” are topics that Tamborra talks about a lot with her team and in Taiwan the player had the opportunity to see a good representation of what “passion and preparation” looked like.
“Teams arrive hours before games to have full practices, they communicate and operate in concert on the field, while playing at a high level, and also have very high-level pitching,” the coach explains.
A week that started out with a lopsided loss to the top team in Taiwan, ended with a “toe to toe” battle with that same team. More importantly, the trip organizer adds, “our team was able to walk away knowing that via the game that they have so much passion for was instrumental in helping these 14 young Viper ladies experience another culture and have an international experience that most Americans will never have.”
More from Coach Stacy Tamborra…
Looking back on your trip to Taiwan, it must seem like years ago with all that’s happening in the world with the pandemic of the COVID-19 virus… thoughts?
I am so thankful that our team had the opportunity to have such an amazing and life-changing experience this Winter. With the abrupt ending to so many things these kids have been looking forward to, the experiential trip to Taiwan overshadows the pain of all that's been lost this Spring.
*** Scroll down to read more about the Taiwan trip including what several players thought of their time overseas…