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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Rising Sun

Setter Autumn Risch will travel with her Minnesota State
volleyball teammates to Japan this summer
The NCAA allows member schools to take trips abroad once every four years. 

The Minnesota State women’s volleyball program has taken advantage of this rule a couple of times in the last few summers with the Mavericks travelling to Argentina in 2009 and Eastern Europe (Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Italy) in 2013.  

With the idea that the trips enhance the student-athlete experience, the Mavericks are in the midst of preparing for another excursion.

Head coach Lori Rittenhouse, staff and players will sojourn to Japan in a few weeks, leaving Minnesota July 24th and returning August 4th. The Mavericks are slated to play four matches over the course of 12 days of the tour, which will take them to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.

The trip will also include time for practice, along with sightseeing and other activities.

“The mission of these trips is to provide real and meaningful experiences for each student-athlete,” said Rittenouse. “Intercollegiate athletics offers much more than a statistical column and a win/loss record. It provides the framework for growth and development as an individual; enhances the skills and motivation required of leaders; and offers a unique and variable environment for student-athletes to navigate and practice tactics of teamwork, communication and cohesion.”

Rittenhouse, a Mankato native who is entering her third year as head coach of the Mavericks, said that the submersion into a new culture, foreign language and unfamiliar surroundings provides a unique opportunity for growth, personal discovery and pushes one out of a state of comfort. 

To make this once-in-a-lifetime foreign tour a reality, the Mavericks hosted, coordinated and organized over 60 youth volleyball tournaments over the past four years and not a single cent from the student-athletes or University dollars will be used to pay for the tour.

Autumn Risch, a setter from Howards Grove, Wis., who’s heading into her junior season with Minnesota State, is looking forward to the trip. 

“It’s hard to explain how excited I am for the opportunity to travel to Japan. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I know we will all remember for the rest of our lives.,” said Risch, a psychology major who saw action in 29 matches in 2016. “I’m most excited about sharing this experience with some of my greatest friends. It will be amazing to not only play together overseas, but to also enjoy the different culture and beauty of the country.”

I" can’t wait to play international competition and I think it’s amazing that our team gets to represent our university overseas. We put in a lot of work in as a team last spring and I know we have continued to put in the work over this summer. I’m excited to see how that will continue in our Japan training as well as when we finally get to compete. As an individual I want to focus on leading the team through any obstacles we might face considering we don’t know what the competition will be like, and as for the team, I want us to keep looking forward and stay focused and competitive the entire trip.”