10 for 10 with Jamie Kent

Who are you and what do you do at WorldStrides?
Jamie Kent, West Coast Sales Team Lead. I look after our sales on the west coast and manage a team of folks who work directly with coaches, technical directors, athletic directors, and parents to create amazing experiences that change the lives of youth athletes forever!

How long have you worked with WorldStrides?
Almost 3 years now.

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?
Paris, France during the Women’s World Cup in 2019!

What are the top three things you did while you were in Paris?
I got to watch four (!!) World Cup games, including three USA games and the epic Scotland vs Argentina 3-3 tie with VAR controversy!

Traveled with one of our groups for the day to play against a local girls team in a beautiful little village on the outskirts of Paris, and afterwards we got to meet and socialize with the locals.

I got around to see nine of our groups whilst I was there for two weeks. It was so rewarding to see all of their faces and how excited they were about everything.

What’s the number one thing you would tell somebody to NOT miss if they visit Paris?
The obvious tourist attractions are easy, but you absolutely have to sample the Parisian cafés and their outside seating. The atmosphere and ambiance is truly remarkable.

Do you know any weird or strange facts about Paris?
This isn’t necessarily weird or strange, but I think it’s interesting how Paris became known as The City of Light (that’s “light” singular, not plural) – because it was the first major city to adopt street lights.

What was your favorite food or drink you tried while there?
I did try escargo whilst I was there, and I have to say they were quite tasty. I also ate a delicious croque monsieur!

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?
Nothing for myself but I bought my daughter a bunch of clothes. For my son, I brought back a plush toy Eiffel Tower…that he’s played with once and that’s about it!

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?
Australia and New Zealand for the next Women’s World Cup in 2023!

What’s the best travel tip you could pass along to future travelers?
Travel light. It makes a huge difference moving through airports and on ground transportation.

10 for 10 with WorldStrides Sports – Nikiah Dulac

Who are you and what do you do at WorldStrides?
Nikiah Dulac, Account Executive. I generate new business and manage existing business for clubs, private high schools, and NCAA markets throughout New England.

How long have you worked with WorldStrides?
I’ve been with WorldStrides for 4 1/2 years. For 4 years, I was in a similar role with our Higher Education Custom Programs division and have now been with our Sports division for just over 4 months!

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?
New Zealand and Australia

What are the top three things you did while you were there?
Visited The University of New South Wales and the U.S. Consulate in Sydney
Attend a musical as well as a famous ballet show at the Sydney Opera House
Walked on Bondi Beach and took too many photos!

What’s the number one thing you would tell somebody to NOT miss if they visit New Zealand or Australia?
See a show at the Sydney Opera House or make the trip to Akaroa and take a charter around the harbor to see the ‘Hector’s Dolphin,’ the smallest dolphin in the world

Do you know any weird or strange facts about New Zealand or Australia?
New Zealand won the first ever Rugby World Cup in 1987.

What was your favorite food or drink you tried while there?
By far, the fresh kiwi fruit varieties. We met with the staff and had a behind-the-scenes tour of Trevelyans Kiwi Farm in New Zealand. The kiwi fruit is delicious!

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?
A few things but two stand out from New Zealand: a koozie of the All Blacks rugby team with the “Haka” chant printed on it, and a “Whakairo” wood carving hand-carved by the Maori people.

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?
This isn’t as easy to answer as I thought! Depending on the season, I really want to visit The Faroe Islands in Denmark, Croatia, Banff, and the Patagonia regions in Chile or Argentina.

What’s the best travel tip you could pass along to future travelers?
If you wear contacts, always travel with at least 2 sets of back-up pairs just in case.

10 for 10 with WorldStrides Sports – Morgan O’Donnell

Who are you and what do you do at WorldStrides?
Morgan O’Donnell. As a Senior Account Manager, I help manage some of our key clientele & work with our operations team to create once in a lifetime trips!

How long have you worked with WorldStrides?
A little over 5 years, I started on June 1st, 2015. Time flies when you’re having fun! 😊

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?
Copenhagen, Denmark

What are the top three things you did while you were in Copenhagen?
Visited Tivoli Gardens, the 2nd oldest operating amusement park in the world!
Copenhagen Canal Tour
Climbed the winding staircase to the top of the “Church of our Saviour” which had some of the best views of the city!

What’s the number one thing you would tell somebody to NOT miss if they visit Copenhagen?
Nyhavn, one of the most picturesque places in in the city!

Do you know any weird or strange facts about Copenhagen?
There are 5 times as many bikes as there are cars in Copenhagen. Biking is their preferred mode of transportation!

What was your favorite food or drink you tried while there?
Rather than a favorite dish, I’ll share my favorite spot to grab a bite to eat, Torvehallerne. It’s a glass market that has a variety of food and drinks to try.

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?
Unlike some of my other co-workers (I won’t name names), I didn’t buy anything too extravagant when I was there. I kept it more simplistic and bought a water painting of Nyhavn.

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?
Portugal! Our teams that travel there always come back and share how amazing the country is.

What’s the best travel tip you could pass along to future travelers?
Bring a portable phone charger, you’ll never know when you might need to use it!

10 for 10 with WorldStrides Sports – Jonny Brown

Who are you and what do you do at WorldStrides?

Jonny Brown, Sales Operation Specialist

I manage many of our key ODP and NCAA accounts.

How long have you worked at WorldStrides?

Just over three years.

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?

I have been lucky to travel to a few places while working for WorldStrides Sports, but my favorite would have to be visiting London & Manchester with Marquette Men’s Soccer.

What are the top three things you did while in England?

  1. Saw the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
  2. Toured Old Trafford & Anfield – two of the most historic and famous stadiums in the soccer world.
  3. Visited the Cavern Club in Liverpool, which is where the Beatles first started playing together.

What is the number one thing that you would tell somebody to not miss if they visit England?

Make sure you take a guided walking tour of London so you can see the House of Parliament, Tower of London, the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and many more landmarks.

Do you know any weird or strange facts about England?

The taxicab drivers you see in London must pass a test called The Knowledge, which can take 2-4 years to prepare for, in order to drive a taxi (referred to as a black cab) around the city!

What was your favorite food or drink that you tried while there?

Fish and chips in London, high tea in Oxford, and a pint of Guinness in the Nag’s Head in Manchester!

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?

I bought some clothing from the Manchester United megastore, which is said to be the biggest team store in the world.

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?

Barcelona would absolutely be my next choice.

What is the best travel tip that you can pass along to customers?

Try and be active as soon as you arrive to your destination so that you stay up all day, get a good night sleep on the first night, and beat the jet lag!

 

10 for 10 with WorldStrides Sports – Kerri Nicolich

Who are you and what do you do at WorldStrides?

Kerri Nicolich, Senior Account Manager

I manage some of our key accounts, ensuring we provide them with a great trip experience!

How long have you worked at WorldStrides?

Just about three years now.

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a few countries while working with WorldStrides. My favorite destination has been Barcelona, Spain.

What are the top three things you did while in Barcelona?

  1. Toured Camp Nou stadium.
  2. Visited Sitges, which is an amazingly beautiful coastal town.
  3. Watched Vicky Losada and the Women’s FC Barcelona team win the semi-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League!

What is the number one thing that you would tell somebody to not miss if they visit Barcelona?

Make sure to see La Sagrada Familia, the massive, unfinished church by architect Gaudí. Even if you don’t tour it, it is worth seeing from the outside.

Do you know any weird or strange facts about Barcelona?

If everything had gone to plan, the Eiffel Tower would be in Barcelona. However, Spain rejected the project.

What was your favorite food or drink that you tried while there?

You cannot miss trying the paella in Barcelona – it is famous for it. I had so many great meals, but my favorite was actually an Italian dish, Fettuccine Alfredo. It was actually the best Fettuccine Alfredo I’ve ever had!

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?

I bought myself a great T-Shirt while shopping in Las Ramblas, a tree-lined, pedestrian street in central Barcelona.

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?

Italy has always been on my bucket list. I’ll have to try the Fettuccine there, too!

What is the best travel tip that you can pass along to customers?

When packing, roll your clothes! It helps you fit more in your suitcase.

 

10 for 10 with WorldStrides Sports – Eric McAleer

Who are you and what do you do at WorldStrides?

Eric McAleer and I am the Senior Vice President of the WorldStrides Sports division.

How long have you worked at WorldStrides?

21 years.

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?

Portugal is amazing.

What are the top three things you did while in Portugal?

  1. Visited Benfica’s Championship winning game.
  2. Took a guided tour of the training grounds of Benfica and Sporting.
  3. Enjoyed a walking tour of beautiful Lisbon.

What is the number one thing that you would tell somebody to not miss if they visit Portugal?

Do not miss taking time for a guided sightseeing bike tour of Lisbon City Center.

Do you know any weird or strange facts about Portugal?

The world famous singer, Madonna, lived full time in Cascais, near Lisbon, because she was supporting her son while he pursued his dream of playing soccer for Benfica.

What was your favorite food or drink that you tried while there?

Portugal has some fantastic seafood and great red wines.

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?

I brought back some different cork products for our home. Cork is one of Portugal’s biggest industries.

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?

I am already looking forward to Australia in 2023 for the Women’s World Cup!

What is the best travel tip that you can pass along to customers?

I always recommend that people pack as lightly as they can and do laundry at the destination.

10 for 10 with WorldStrides Sports – Ashley Tremper

Who are you and what do you do at WorldStrides?

Ashley Tremper, Account Manager

I manage a portfolio of clientele, primarily in the public and private high school market.

How long have you worked at WorldStrides?

A year and a half.

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?

Definitely Costa Rica!

What are the top three things you did while in Costa Rica?

  1. Zip lined through the rainforest near Lake Arenal & the Arenal Volcano.
  2. Learned how to surf in the Pacific Ocean from local surfing experts.
  3. Swam under Llanos de Cortes Waterfall.

What is the number one thing that you would tell somebody to not miss if they visit Costa Rica?

Embrace the country’s mantra of Pura Vida, meaning “pure life.” Costa Ricans truly live by this lifestyle, which is most likely why Costa Rica is one of the happiest countries in the world.

Do you know any weird or strange facts about Costa Rica?

Due to Costa Rica’s close proximity to the Equator, the sun rises and sets at the same time every day, no matter the season. P.S. The sunsets, alone, are worth a visit to Costa Rica. They are absolutely amazing!

What was your favorite food or drink that you tried while there?

Food: Patacones (fried plantains), served with avocado & black bean dip; Drink: Fresh-squeezed juice from fruits, especially pineapple, starfruit and passionfruit.

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?

I brought back 10 different types of coffee, purchased from local grocery stores and roasteries along our journey. Eco Café was my favorite, not only for its taste but also for the founder’s commitment to social responsibility and support of the local growers and communities.

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?

Anywhere (ha)! Once the world opens for travel, Portugal is currently at the top of my list.

What is the best travel tip that you can pass along to customers?

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (before and during your trip, and especially on the plane)!

10 for 10 with WorldStrides Sports – Ashley Herbst

Ashley Italy Excel Soccer Program

What do you do at WorldStrides?
As the Manager of Account Management, I manage a portfolio of our top clientele while leading our awesome team of account managers!

How long have you worked at WorldStrides?
Just over five years – I started on May 4, 2015 to be exact!

WorldStrides goes to so many destinations, but what has been your favorite destination that you have visited while working for WorldStrides?
Northern Italy

What are the top three things you did while in Northern Italy?
1.Test drove a Ferrari with one of our coaching staff in the town of Modena.
2.Rode in a gondola through canals in Venice.
3.Cheered on one of our US Youth Soccer teams playing Juventus F.C. neck and neck in the Claudio Sassi tournament.

What is the number one thing that you would tell somebody to not miss if they visit Northern Italy?
Don’t miss a visit to Lake Como. It is beautiful!

Do you know any weird or strange facts about Northern Italy?
Italians consume 14 billion espressos each year. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is, they are always up for an espresso. Morning, noon and night!

What was your favorite food or drink that you tried while there?
It wouldn’t be fair of me to choose a winner between the pizza, pasta, and gelato. They are all amazing!

Did you buy a souvenir and if so, what was it?
I caved and splurged on a Louis Vuitton wallet three years ago and Eric hasn’t let me live it down yet. Still saving for the purse to go with it though! Could be a small factor contributing to our AM Team being nicknamed Team Diva…

If you could pick your next trip, where would you go?
This year I was slated to visit Reykjavik, Iceland and Munich, Germany prior to the global pandemic hitting. I am looking forward to rescheduling those trips and traveling with our teams!

What is the best travel tip that you can pass along to customers?
Invest in a good neck pillow. You won’t regret it!

How Eric met Sasho…

I first met Coach Sasho Cirovski in the Summer of June of 1997 as a Soccer Camp Coach at the University of Maryland. We have been friends since and I’ve been super fortunate to be around one of the top NCAA soccer programs in the country – and one of the top coaches in the country. Maryland Men’s Soccer have traveled internationally in 2004, 2008 and in 2018 and we were honored to be chosen as their travel partner on each occasion. All three trips were to the UK and NCAA National titles were won in 2005 and in 2018! They’ve played against teams such as Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic (who were coached by the legendary Tommy Burns), QPR, Hearts and Crystal Palace. They’ve attended top EPL games involving Manchester United, Spurs, Arsenal and Brighton. I’ve personally traveled on all three trips and had the great fortune of seeing top players such as Jason Garey, Maurice Edu, Zack Steffen and Donovan Pines play against some of the best young professional players in the UK. The high level of the Maryland program was evident against such high quality opposition. One game v’s Crystal Palace in London had 10+ pro scouts in attendance watching Zack Steffen who, just recently, signed a 7 million pound deal with Manchester City. We are very proud to have played a part in this awesome journey – Go Terps!!

Fire, Ice, And “Hidden People”: How Iceland’s National Team Reflects the Landscape

There’s a thunderclap. And then plumes of hot volcanic ash arrive like a Viking invasion.

In April 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Southern Iceland erupted, shutting down European airspace and causing the worst disruption in international travel since September 11, 2001. According to the Huffington Post, the giant ash cloud that hovered over northern Europe affected 10 million travelers, and airlines lost at least $1.7 billion.

Still, Eyjafjallajokull’s ash cloud had a silver lining: Iceland, a small, remote island in the North Atlantic, home to more sheep (800,000) than people (350,000), was now on the tourist map. Travel to Iceland from North America was up 13% in 2010, and by 2017 the number of foreign visitors exceeded 2,000,000 for the first time.

But the Eyjafjallajokull eruption can be viewed another way, too. Maybe it was nature’s response to the 2008 financial crash that saw the collapse of Iceland’s three major banks and the Icelandic krona lose almost half its value overnight. Or maybe the volcanic eruption was the heralding of Iceland’s national soccer team, and a thundering precursor to the rise of a soccer-mad nation.

Since 2010, Iceland has quietly become a soccer powerhouse. They shocked the world by beating England 2-1 in a last-16 match at the 2016 European Championship, and then shocked it again by qualifying for its first World Cup in 2018.

“Afram Island!” (Onward Iceland!)

Iceland National Team

Iceland is a land of sagas, and the story of the men’s national team is one of the best. The squad jumped 91 places on the FIFA World ranking in five years, cracking the Top 20 for the first time in March 2018.

The team’s style of play is calm, composed, patient, and heavy on defense –a point Ronaldo emphasized after Iceland and Portugal played to a 1-1 draw in the first fixture of the 2016 European Championship –with flashes of counterattack after an opponent makes a mistake.

Iceland favors set pieces like corner kicks and throw-ins, and have revived the long throw, a specialty of midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, who, like “Thor the Hammer Hurler,” repeatedly catches defenders off guard by launching bombs into the penalty area.

In comparison to Germany, Argentina, and Spain, Iceland evokes a slow, deliberate, unforgiving, and almost glacial style of play. Some critics call it boring; in fact, commentators at the 2018 World Cup said Iceland’s defensive style was an affront to the beautiful game. Others call it underdog football.

In fact, the team’s style of play is a lot like the Icelandic landscape –fire and ice. A typical Iceland match features 85 minutes of glacial floodplains, frigid mountains, and deep, quiet fjords, followed by five minutes of majestic waterfalls, rocketing geysers, and fiery volcanoes.

Watching an Icelandic football game is like waiting for the Northern Lights to appear; maybe something spectacular will happen -a highlight reel goal from an impossibly narrow angle, a long-range strike, a flying volley –but more often than not the goals are utilitarian, selfless, efforts of collaboration and teamwork rather than pure strikes, and the games are decidedly low scoring affairs.

Maybe it’s the close-knit nature of the Icelandic players that’s the key to the team’s run of success. Or maybe the squad’s passionate fan base has something to do with it, a fan base that’s reached beyond the borders of Scandinavia, bringing its thunderclap and Viking horns wherever it goes, creating a global hysteria whenever the team takes the pitch. Perhaps it’s the country’s commitment to high-quality coaching and the fact that it’s invested in several full-size, indoor soccer facilities in the past 15 years.

Or maybe Iceland’s “hidden people” –the elves, sprites, and trolls that make their home in the country’s landscape, are simply working their magic.