UNIVERSITY PARK — The Penn State baseball team will make a historic trip to Cuba during the upcoming Thanksgiving break, head coach Rob Cooper announced Thursday.
Eastern York High School graduate Ryky Smith is expected to be a senior infielder for the Nittany Lions in the upcoming season. He made 14 starts for PSU a season ago, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors.
In partnership with the Centro de Estudios Martianos (Center for Marti Studies) in Havana, Penn State baseball and the University Office of Global Programs, have received preliminary approval for the trip from the Cuban Baseball Commission. Students will have the opportunity to experience Cuban history and culture through lectures, tours and site visits, while also playing approximately three to four exhibition games. Potential opponents are expected to include university teams and Cuban national squads.
"This is an incredible educational and life experience that baseball is serving as a vehicle for," Cooper said. "It's also another example of the vast educational opportunities Penn State offers to student-athletes. I am very excited that our students are getting the opportunity to experience another culture through baseball."
Numerous details of the trip remain to be determined. Prior to leaving, students will attend seminars to prepare for what they will experience on the trip. The seminars will also be available to parents. Penn State classes are not in session during the week of the Thanksgiving holiday.
The team will be relying on the assistance of its fans, alumni and friends for funding of the trip. Those wishing to support the Lions should contact Kirk Diehl or Rick Janac at the Nittany Lion Club at (814) 865-9462.
Penn State baseball will be the third United States collegiate team to visit Cuba this year. The Princeton track and field team traveled to Cuba in June, while the Coastal Carolina men's basketball squad visited in August. Additionally, a group of Vanderbilt student-athletes and staff visited in July.
The NCAA allows teams to take an international trip once every four years.