While it would be easy to think that the Tennessee’ basketball team’s trip to Europe would be strictly for basketball purposes, the Vols have been proving that line of thought to be incorrect. The team has been learning about each of the places they have visited from Dr. David Tompkins, a UT history professor who accompanied the team on the trip. UT toured the Terezin Concentration Camp on Sunday and today they visited children who were hospitalized in Bratislava, Slovakia.
“I think first of all, and you can’t take this for granted, our players were excited about it,” head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We have done a lot of things on this trip and have kept the players very busy. It wouldn’t have surprised me if one of the kids had asked, ‘Coach why do we have to do this?’ Not one of them questioned why we were doing this. They all felt the same thing I did. The kids in the hospital were very much appreciative of our being there. The parents, children, nursing staff and the head of the childrens orthopaedic center were so thankful that we celebrated our visit with some traditional Slovakian plum brandy.
“The language difference never got in the way because all you had to do was hand out a t-shirt or some sort of trinket and smile. Within a second or two they understood that we were trying to brighten their day. Kindness is universal and there is not enough of that. It was as a positive thing as we have done this whole trip. “
The entire Tennessee team and coaching staff spent about 30 minutes touring the Detska Fakultna Nemocnica S Poliklinikou hospital. The Vols passed out shirts, sweat bands and other trinkets to the patients, their parents and the medical staff. The children, who were all 12 years old and younger, enjoyed taking pictures with the team as they stopped by their rooms. By the time the visit was over, the children, their parents, the hospital staff and especially the Vols were all smiling and laughing.
“It was a good experience to see the kids being happy,” sophomore Wayne Chism said. “It felt good because we were able to make them and their parents feel happy. I am glad we got to do something like this.”
Tennessee began Wednesday morning with a tour of Bratislava Castle and then walked back to their hotel through old part of Bratislava. Sophmores Duke Crews and Ramar Smith each did a presentation about the castle and its history for the class they are taking as a part of the European tour.
Story Courtesy: UT Sports Information