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Published: January 10, 2014

UT Baseball Travels to Cuba for Cultural Exchange

»Read daily updates on the trip
The defending national champion University of Tampa baseball team is in Cuba Jan. 12-19 for a cultural exchange program while also playing some top baseball teams.

Among the cultural experiences the team is engaging in includes touring Havana, visiting museums, cultural centers and art galleries, eating at area paladares and doing community service with local children. The team is also tentatively slated to play four baseball games and engage in dialogue with players, trainers and coaches, as well as students and faculty from the University of Havana.

“This is an amazing cultural opportunity for our guys to go see a country with such a rich history, and to promote dialogue between young people in different countries,” says head coach Joe Urso. “With the many Cuban ties in the city of Tampa and the UT baseball program, it will be great for our team to see where this culture comes from. And, it will be an experience for our team to play some of the best baseball players in the world.”

The team is traveling on a cultural literacy and international education license through the organization People to People. In order to make the trip, the team followed rigorous protocols required by UT’s Office of International Programs in terms of safety, risk management and educational curriculum.

Coincidentally, the team will likely have some hometown fans. A group of UT students, who are studying in Cuba for 10-days as part of Department of Government and World Affairs honors class focusing on Cuban culture, plan to attend one of the games. UT regularly offers study abroad trips to Cuba.

Among the baseball teams UT will face are the Industriales Blue Lions, Mayabeque Hurricanes and Artemisa Hunters. The Spartans will also meet and train with the Cuban Baseball Team and Matanzas Baseball Team.

UT senior Zach Gawrych said he’s excited to see Cuban culture first-hand.

“We look forward to the experiences, especially with the Cuban culture and the non-baseball part of the trip,” Gawrych said. “I think we will see many similarities between us and the Cubans.”

The trip is sponsored through the World Trade Center of Tampa, the UT Athletic Department and the UT Office of International Programs.