A UConn women’s basketball program with high aspirations prepared for the grind of a long season with a leisurely week here at the Paradise Jam.
Along with their three games and practices, the Huskies enjoyed a nearly a week of relaxation in and around the grounds of Marriott’s Frenchman’s Reef Resort.
“I’ve enjoyed myself immensely,” freshman Breanna Stewart said. “The resort is beautiful. Laying by the pool has been wonderful. Probably the most interesting thing we’ve done, however, was snorkeling [on Tuesday]. I’ve never done that before and thought it was very neat.
“I must admit, I was a little freaked out at first. I couldn’t get my breathing [pattern] right and kept sucking in the water, which is not a good thing. I thought I was going to need to wear a life jacket.”
The coaching staff gave the players full access to the pools and beach, although the time was cut back once games began on Thursday. And most of the players took advantage of it.
“It’s been great to just chill with the team,” junior Stefanie Dolson said. “And I am a big picture person. It’s just been a lot of fun just to relax. It’s also been great to go to an island like this with my mother. She’s had the chance to do it with my other two sisters, but this is the first time with just me.”
One of the curiosities of the resort is the abundance of iguana that live there. Although inherently docile, they have been known to aggressively approach humans.
“The iguana led to a lot of issues,” Kelly Faris said. “One of them almost got Stefanie Dolson. It climbed up on her chair. I wouldn’t have liked that, either.”
More than anything, the time together, which actually began last weekend in College Station, Texas, has given the players a chance to bond on and off the floor.
“We love being around each other,” Bria Hartley said. “But I think Stewie [Stewart] might be the funniest one of all. It’s just some of the things she says. It’s hilarious. And it’s kind of random. Sometimes she’ll just say things that have nothing to do with what’s going on. But they are very funny.”