This summer, Athena finally embarked on their USA trip that had been in the works for the last two years but each time had to be postponed because of COVID-19. The trip, which will be an annual event for the Athena program, will be three and half weeks and next year’s trip looks like it will be even longer. Giving the girls, many of whom have the goal of playing collegiate basketball in the United States of America, a chance to experience top level competition, top notch facilities and quality coaching that the basketball scene in the USA offers has been a goal for the club for some time. The Athena management is very excited to be able to finally provide those opportunities. The girls will spend most of their time in Alabama along with participating in the Atlanta Summer Slam AAU tournament on July 23rd – 25th in Atlanta, Georgia. While in Alabama, the team will practice at various high schools and training facilities across the state as well as scrimmage against the top local high school and collegiate talent in the state in their age groups. The team will also visit some of the top universities in the state to familiarize themselves with the college environment and get a taste of what it’s like being a collegiate student athlete. The team will be visited by some of the most experienced and successful coaches in the state of Alabama and will get the opportunity to gain valuable insight into what it takes to be successful in this part of the world.
“We couldn’t be more excited for the girls. It’s great to be able to give them an opportunity to expand their horizons a bit and see what the level of competition over here is really like.” said Athena chairman Jóhanna Jakobsdóttir. “Many of our girls want to come over here some day to play at the collegiate level in the future so it’s necessary for us to be able to give them an idea of what they need to do to make that dream a reality. A lot of people around here within the basketball community are Brynjar Karl´s personal friends and very familiar with the work he’s doing with the girls and so many of them have been willing to volunteer their time and effort to help us out, whether it’s organizing scrimmages, as well as joining our Athena coaching staff for practice…and these are very experienced and successful coaches.
Jóhanna also mentions the potential opportunities that the girls have ahead of them and how Athena wants to support those girls that want to play college basketball in the best way possible to achieve their goals.
Asked about the some of the goals for this trip, assistant coach Vésteinn Sveinsson commented: “We wanted to bring them here early so they can get the exposure early…you know…there are not a lot of college coaches making that flight over to Iceland to recruit players so we want our girls that want to play college basketball to have had that exposure and start building some of those relationships so when the time comes for them to choose where they want to play they might have some options, which in general is not the case for players in Iceland.”
As previously stated, Athena has been planning on going on a USA trip for the past few years and the coaching staff has been preparing the girls from Iceland and teaching them what it takes to play at this level. It’s safe to say that basketball holds more importance in the United States than it does in Iceland. “I think it’s sad, there are a lot of girls in Iceland that want to play college ball and have the talent to do so but they are so poorly prepared to play at this level. These girls are constantly being let down by the people that are entrusted with their development. Here we have tremendous experience on the coaching staff, people that played in college and know what it takes. We are working tirelessly to prepare our girls the best way we can for what lies ahead.” said Athena head coach Brynjar Karl Sigurðsson.