HANOVER, N.H. – Two members of the Dartmouth women’s basketball team spent their summers doing something different.
Junior Isalys Quiñones and sophomore Paula Lenart played for their respective national teams for the summer of 2017. Quinones played for the Puerto Rican National Team, while Lenart played for the Romanian National Team.
For Quinones, the journey was unexpected and very rewarding. In June, the Chula Vista, California native was asked by the team’s general manager to participate in a tryout for the team, while she was en route to Hanover for her sophomore summer. She competed for a spot to represent the country in tournaments, including the Americup Tournament.
“This experience has been a dream come true,” Quinones said. “It has always been my dream to represent a country playing the sport I love. I was in a beautiful country all summer long, I got to travel the world and make life-long friends.
“This experience wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have Dartmouth and my team supporting me. I would like to thank my family, coaches present and past and Dartmouth for all the support they have given me, and helping me through this process. Being a part of the Peurto Rican National Team is a true honor.”
The team participated in the Centrobasket Tournament in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and came in third with four wins and one loss, qualifying to play in the Americup games. Staying true to its name, the Americup is a tournament hosting the best teams from North and South America. These games were hosted in Buenos Aires, Argentina from August 6th through 13th, and the team faced some tough opponents, including Brazil and rival Cuba.
Fairing quite well, the Peurto Rican squad took down Brazil and Cuba, and finished with a 4-2 record, qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Spain. This is the first time the Puerto Rican National Team has reached a qualification for the World Cup, and the team is now ranked 28th internationally.
For Lenart, playing for the Romanian National Team was not her first time out. The Covasna, Romania native has played for the junior national team since her teenage years, participating in the Youth European National Championships. Now as a member of the senior team, she has played in a few Friendly International games.
The 2017 season was a bit different though, as the team competed in the Francophone Games in Abidjan, Africa. To prepare for these games, the Romanians faced the Tunisian National Team in two friendly matches, which included sightseeing in Sousse, Tunisia.
“Every minute of playing with the national team was precious,” Lenart said. “My focus was to enjoy the game regardless of how I perform. The biggest thing I realized after our experience in Africa is that I have to be more grateful for what I have. It’s so easy to get lost in negative thinking when you have an unsuccessful season, or a hard term, that we forget to appreciate how lucky we are.
“Our next competition will be in the summer of 2018 to qualify for the 2019 EuroBasket games. I hope that with the help of the Dartmouth coaching staff and my teammates I will be able to improve to a level where I can not only keep up with them, but also become a base member,” she added.
The Romanian squad ended up placing sixth overall in the Francophone Games, after losing to France and Mali. In traveling to Africa, the teams needed to get vaccinated for malaria, which caused unprecedented illnesses for some players, creating a struggle to play to the fullest potential.
Both Lenart and Quinones have returned to campus and will soon begin their work on the 2017-18 campaign.