by Bob San
SUN PRESS Newspapers
When Brycen Wojta gets together with his friends and talks about what he did this summer, it’s safe to say not many of them can top what he got to experience this July.
Wojta, a former Maple Grove High standout athlete and honor student (Class of 2013), received an invitation to play basketball for the USA D-3 All Star Men’s Basketball Team in after his outstanding freshman performance at Bethel University, St. Paul. He spent July 21-30 in Brazil playing basketball, soaking in a different culture and making new friends.
“After coming back from this Brazil tour, I feel it exceeded every one of my expectations,” said Wojta, a four-year Crimson starting point guard and the school’s all-time leading scorer.
The USA all-star team was made up of invited NCAA Division III basketball players from throughout the United States. Team members have been recognized as All American, All Region and All Conference. The team played four games in three different cities: Sao Paulo, Santos, and Rio de Janeiro. The Americans got a chance to go against some pretty strong competition.
“In the past, this USA team played against only 22U teams,” Wojta said. “This time, the first three teams we played were Brazilian professional teams, and the last team was against an All Star team of players ranging from 18-23 years old that play in Rio de Janeiro.”
The first game was against a professional team Soracaba.
“We came out not knowing what style of play it was going to be and were stunned from the tip,” Wojta recalled. “By the end of the first quarter, we were already losing by 20. We ended up fighting back and ended up losing by eight points.”
The second game against a team called Piracicaba was very competitive throughout. It was a game of runs and the Brazilians were able to pull ahead at the very end to win by three.
The third game was against a team called Santos. This was a well fought game as well, but the Americans lost by 11.
USA tasted victory in the last game against the Rio Soul All Stars.
“We had a great performance in our last game and ended up winning by 28 points,” Wojta said.
Playing basketball was just part of this memorable journey. Wojta got to spend quality time with his new teammates when they traveled the famous sites in Brazil.
“This was a great trip not only for the basketball, but for the experiences I had with all my teammates on the days we didn’t have a game,” he said. “We toured the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and went to the Sugarloaf Mountain. From both of these spots, one can overlook Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana Beach, and Guanabara Bay.”
Wojta also got to experience daily Brazilian life.
“A good part of the highlights I had on this trip were with the locals and people I met off of the court,” he said. “Our hotel was right on Copacabana Beach, so we spent a lot of time playing various games against the locals. Some included football, soccer, volleyball, and a lot of beach soccer. Overall, this trip did a great job combining the value of sports and culture together to make a lifetime full of relationships and memories.”
From a basketball standout, Wojta felt he learned a lot from this trip.
“Overall, we didn’t have the record I was hoping for, but I feel like I gained valuable experience that will only benefit me at Bethel,” he said.
Wojta was an outstanding basketball and football players at Maple Grove and was recruited by many schools. But he is happy with his choice of Bethel.
“I chose to attend Bethel for a variety of reasons,” he said. “First off, I knew I would be getting a quality education and after visiting I instantly knew it was a school I would want to attend even if I hadn’t participated in sports. Second, I saw myself being able to grow as a person outside of athletics and being able to transform into the man I want to be. Also during the few times I went to visit Bethel during my decision process, I already had built a pretty good relationship with most the guys on the team and they were very welcoming from the start. My decision became very simple when I compared those aspects of Bethel to all the other contending schools.”
Contact Bob San at firstname.lastname@example.org