To borrow a phrase from the U.S. Army, join the UT Tyler women’s soccer team and see the world.
UT Tyler soccer coach Stefani Webb and her Patriots get the trip of a lifetime, traveling to France to not only compete in international friendlies, but also take in the Women’s World Cup competition.
“First, we want to thank Dr. (Michael) Tidwell (UT Tyler president) for the vision that he cast for us to be able to have this opportunity, and Dr. (Howard) Patterson (UT Tyler athletic director) for all of his support,” Webb said. “This has been nine months in the making and I credit each of our student-athletes for working so hard to raise the funds to bring this to fruition. We are excited it is finally here and cannot wait to represent this amazing university.”
Webb added the trip to Paris, doubles as a learning experience for student-athletics. Some 27 soccer players and nine coaches and support staff will be going to France. They will leave D/FW International Airport on June 21.
But first fans will have an opportunity to give the group a sendoff and also watch the U.S. Women’s National Team play Chile at 11 a.m. June 16 at the Republic Icehouse, 3807 University Blvd.
The Patriots will compete against three international teams and take in two World Cup matches. The itinerary also includes stops at some of the world’s most famous landmarks including the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre and Omaha Beach.
When arriving June 22, the team will have a training session that afternoon before meeting an international team on June 23. They will also have matches on June 25 and 26.
“I played overseas in Holland when I was 17,” senior midfielder Miranda Reyna of Pflugerville said. “I still look forward to playing and competing against new competition and learning a new style.”
Junior defender Priscilla Rincon, of Tyler, added, “I thought it would be a great opportunity to expand our knowledge of the game and compete against international teams.”
After their morning friendly on June 23, the Patriots will take a cruise along the Seine River. On June 24, the group will visit the Eiffel Tower which has stood in the Champ de Mars since the 1889 World Fair.
“The trip has not sunk in yet,” Rincon, a former Tyler Lee and Tyler Junior College standout, said. “Once we get there, it will start to feel real and we will fully grasp that we have an exciting opportunity to make this trip as a team.”
On June 25, the group will have some free time to explore Paris.
On June 26 the group will visit the Catacombs, an underground network of tunnels and burial sites of millions. They will visit The Louvre, the former palace turned museum. A number of the world’s great artworks are housed in the museum highlighted by Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
The following day, they will have a city tour and will visit the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe. After the city tour, the group will visit the Latin Quarter where the history of Paris is archived in museums, architecture and universities.
“There are so many wonderful things to see from the architecture to the art and all of the wonderful food,” Bri Bourbeau, a sophomore defender from Quebec, said. “I cannot wait to taste the food and really experience the French culture. Being able to play soccer and watch high-level athletes on the same trip is more exciting than words can describe.”
Along with visiting the City of Light, the Patriots will get to take in two World Cup matches, the eighth women’s FIFA competition.
The USA women’s national team is defending their title and will try to become a four-time champion. If the USA squad wins their Group F against Thailand, Chile and Sweden, the Patriots will get to watch the Americans in Paris (actually northeast of Paris in Reims).
On June 24, the group will attend a Women’s World Cup match at Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims (unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region) which will then be into the into the knockout rounds. That match will be played between the runner-up of Group B (China, Germany, South Africa or Spain) and the top team in Group F.
“I grew up hoping to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team like most young girls.” Reyna said. “They were my idols and the people I strived to be like. I have seen the USWNT in the United States but watching them play at a high-level on that stage will be a completely different atmosphere.”
The second Women’s World Cup match UT Tyler will attend is on June 27 in Le Havre and the match could also include the USWNT but would require a few more scenarios to occur. Specifically, the UWSNT would have to finish third in group play and win a match in the knockout stage.
“I was lucky enough to see a few Women’s World Cup matches in Edmonton, Alberta back in 2015,” Bourbeau said. “It was amazing and inspiring. I never thought I would have the opportunity to see them again.”
The Patriots are excited about taking in the soccer and culture.
“I was extremely excited to hear that our team had an opportunity to play in France and watch the Women’s World Cup,” Reyna said. “It is such an amazing opportunity that I never thought I would get to experience when I made the decision to come to UT Tyler.”
“I have traveled outside of the U.S., but what makes this trip special is that I will be traveling with my team,” Rincon said. “Being with my teammates will make it special and a trip to remember.”
“When we were first told about this trip, I could not believe we were given such a great opportunity,” Bourbeau said. “Not only do we have the chance to visit and explore Paris, but we will get to compete against foreign teams and watch the Women’s World Cup. It really is a dream come true!”
Bourbeau is the lone Canadian among the group and she is ready to use her French vocabulary.
“I am also excited to be able to use my French for the first time in a while,” she said. “J’ai tellement hâte! (I cannot wait!)”
The team is scheduled to return to Texas on June 28.