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Smith’s trip to Brazil increases her anticipation for season

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Playing in her first basketball game in Brazil, Monmouth College’s Shayne Smith ’21 did what she does best – contribute to a winning effort.

Competing with a team of U.S.-based collegiate all-stars against a team from Brazil, Smith came on late to fuel her team to an overtime victory, one of three wins in the four games the squad played in South America.

“I played pretty well overall,” said Smith (Hume, Ill./Shiloh), who was a second-team All-Midwest Conference selection last season after averaging 14.6 points per game. “That first game was probably my best game.”

Smith is no stranger to big games. During a three-game stretch last season, she scored a total of 93 points, including a 36-point outburst in a victory over Lawrence University that saw her score all 25 of the Fighting Scots’ second-half points.

“Coach (Kyle Wilson) told me that after the game, and I didn’t believe him,” said Smith of the unusual stat line.

Through USA Sports Tours and Events, Smith and eight teammates from around the country left Orlando, Fla., for Brazil on July 8, returning on July 17. The team was coached by Jennifer Sepielli, the head post-grad women’s basketball coach at IMG Academy.

There were plenty of other highlights besides the on-court action, including visiting a pair of tourist destinations in Rio de Janeiro – the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. Rio was the second city the team visited after spending a few days in Sao Paolo.

“We also saw different markets, different cultures,” said Smith. “We had some beach time, too. There was no down time. We stayed really busy.”

Smith said her best memories will center around the people she met.

“I made quick friends, like instantly,” she said. “The friendships I made and the network I gained are the biggest things I’m bringing back with me.”

Smith was already inspired to help the Scots improve on their runner-up Midwest Conference finish last year, but her experience in Brazil has taken her anticipation for the coming season to a new level.

“This trip showed me that I can’t take my basketball opportunity for granted,” she said. “I saw so many kids working so hard just to get over here and try to play in the U.S. I know I don’t have that many games left, so I’m going to play as hard as I can and as well as I can and not take anything for granted.”

Monmouth returns its entire starting five from its 19-8 campaign, including two other players – Carly Turnbull ’21 and Rebecca Gallis ’20 – who also had 30-point games last year.

“I can’t wait to get started,” said Smith. “We’ve got a great core group coming back, and I know that Coach has a good group of new players coming in. Winning a conference championship is our main goal, and I hope that’s how it turns out.”