While sophomore guard Chuck Bailey has heard on campus about great experiences with Athletes in Action, it was nothing like what he experienced this past June.
Through Bruce Dishnow, the AIA campus representative, Bailey heard about AIA teams that have traveled all over the world. But he never thought that he would participate.
“I knew about it, but I did not know that I would be going on it,” Bailey said.
From June 10-14, Bailey traveled to the Ivory Coast with an AIA team comprised of other Division I players and played African teams including the 2001 African Champions and the Ivory Coast youth national team. The AIA squad went undefeated, going 5-0, but the experiences Bailey will never forget were off the basketball court.
The team visited orphanages and a prison, getting a feel for life in West Africa. Seeing how run down the country was gave Bailey a new perspective on his life here in the States.
“It was a whole new world,” Bailey said. “Everything was just so outdated.”
Bailey recalls seeing the prison with a gigantic wall guarding its borders. The prison required all visitors to show their passports upon entering and exiting. So if one lost their passport in the prison, they were not going out.
“It was wild,” Bailey said.
The team also had local youth clinics near where they stayed on the campus of the University of the Ivory Coast.
On the court, it was Bailey’s first experience playing internationally, and with the trapezoidal key and goaltending that goes along with it. Bailey said that the style of play was much rougher than the Big Ten and that it took the entire team a day or two to get used to both the style of play and the new rules. Bailey also had to get used to playing with players he had never known or played with before.
But the squad worked well together with the help of their coach, Michigan State assistant Mike Garland. Bailey said “it was weird” working with Garland because they knew each other personally. Garland is a real good friend of Bailey’s godfather, the minister at his local church, and he recruited Bailey while he was in high school. As for working under a Spartan, Bailey and Garland cracked a few jokes at each other here and there. But when the team was supposed to wear its green and white tracksuits, Bailey came out in his Michigan warm-ups representing the Maize and Blue.
Bailey hopes that his experience playing internationally will help him become a much stronger player next season. Despite what happens, seeing what life is like in a third-world country makes him appreciate what he has.
“It let me see how we take things for granted,” Bailey said.
B-Rob goes to Europe: Bailey won’t be the last Michigan player to cross the Atlantic this summer as junior forward Bernard Robinson has been named to the Big Ten Conference Foreign Tour team that will play European teams in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands from August 8-18. The team will play five games against squads that have all finished in the top five of their countries’ leagues. Robinson will play with Indiana’s Tom Coverdale, Illinois’ Sean Harrington and Minnesota’s Ben Johnson among others and will be coached by Illinois head coach Bill Self. Big Ten teams have toured Japan, France, Italy, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, England and Ireland over the past 10 years and have complied a 42-38 record.