Irish Eyes


MCLA basketball players Ben Cuprill '11 (left) of Albany, NY, and Patrick Ryan '10 (right) of Woodstock, NY, got a jump start on this fall's season by playing with other U.S. college athletes in Ireland this summer.

The trip came about after Head Basketball Coach Jamie Morrison suggested the teammates play overseas for USA Athletes International (USAAI).  After taking the 2008-09 season off to boost his studies, this summer's basketball experience was a great way for Cuprill to get back on the court.

"After being away from the game for a year now, I have a deeper appreciation for it," says Cuprill.

He and Ryan spent two weeks in Ireland for the basketball tour, traveling to and playing in cities such as Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Belfast.

"You could tell that basketball is a growing sport in Ireland because the attendance was very high from the locals," says Cuprill. "My team consisted of college players from all across the United States stretching from Maine to California. It was fun to play with different players who come from different backgrounds and different systems."

The American teams competed against those from Ireland, including that country's "Superleague." While Cuprill and Ryan found playing basketball overseas to be a bit more physical than in the U.S. as more contact between players is allowed, they said the game was relatively the same in Ireland.

Besides enjoying the beautiful Irish scenery and some great weather, Cuprill and Ryan had the opportunity to interact with people from a different culture and to visit another country, which enhanced their educational experience.

"Ireland is completely different from what I'm used to in the states," says Cuprill. "The people were surprisingly nice and treated us with the utmost respect. I also learned how deep the tradition and heritage is in Ireland. Seeing a different part of the world and all the historic places that I've only seen in books made it real for me."

Cuprill expects the experience also will benefit his basketball game and the rest of the MCLA Trailblazers as he and Ryan join the team in the fall.

"I always try to bring a certain intensity when I play basketball, no matter where I am," he said. "Going to Ireland before the season has made me hunger for more. I am determined to be successful and will be demanding the same from my teammates. This experience was extremely humbling and I am honored to have been a part of it. I am hoping that my successes over the summer will carry into this season to help the team bounce back from last year."