|Q&A: Corbatto Working With USA Basketball U17 Team in World Championship|
Photo courtesy USA Basketball/Caroline Williams
George Mason associate head trainer Debi Corbatto has been traveling and working with the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U17 World Championship Team this summer as they travel around the world competing for the World Championship. The team is currently in Kaunas, Lithuania competing for the gold medal. GoMason.com was able to catch up with Corbatto, who is in her eighth season working with the Patriots men's basketball team, and ask her about the experience.
How did you get involved with the U17 team?
Last fall, the USA Basketball 3-on-3 teams stopped at Mason for some training on their way to compete in Italy. I was able to volunteer my time and provide athletic training coverage while they were on campus. We had a wonderful time working together. At the end of the weekend, I was asked if I would consider doing some further work for the organization. It is such a great honor to put on USA gear and represent your country; of course I said yes!
Where has working with the team taken you thus far?
We began with a week at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs where the team was selected. From there, we flew to Madrid for a night on the way to Gran Canaria, an island off the coast of Africa, for several days while we played in a "tune up tournament." USA won the competition, beating Latvia and Australia on back-to-back nights. Our world trek contained with another stop in Madrid, then stops in Frankfort, Germany and Copenhagen, Denmark on the way to Lithuania. We landed in the capital city, Vilnius, then bused to Kaunas, where the FIBA U17 World Championship tournament is being held. We are meeting athletes from Spain, China, France, Lithuania, Australia, Canada, Egypt, Czech Republic, Argentina, Croatia and Korea.
What have you learned working with athletes from across the country?
I think the thing I will take away from working with our team, which is comprised of athletes from across our country, is a great sense of pride in our nation's youth. These are incredible athletes, and even more incredible young men. I am confident that our country is going to be in great hands as these young men mature into leadership roles in our country. The other hallmark of this trip is how "United" our States are. As large as our country is, there are some universal ideals, like a great sense of national pride. And really... whether they are from California or Florida, they all know how to dance the "Dougie!"
You have traveled with Mason to many different places including overseas. What is the biggest difference in athletic training and medical care outside of the United States?
The biggest difference is how blessed we are to have such a high level of health care for our athletes on a daily basis. We are traveling with both an athletic trainer and a physician (and four large bags of medical gear). Simple things like an ice bag after practice are unheard of in other parts of the world. I have people taking pictures of my kit...they are so amazed at what we can do on the road, without going to a hospital!
What has been the biggest surprise thus far in your role?
I think the biggest surprise is how quickly the players and athletes gave me their trust. They all have great respect for the role of an athletic trainer in their training. It is so humbling to work with these elite coaches and performers and have them ask for help and advice with health and training.
What has been the biggest challenge thus far in your role?
The biggest challenge in working internationally at this level is to keep up! You are at practice twice a day, pulling heavy bags, packing up and traveling at a moment's notice as schedules change, up doing treatments until midnight, then back up at 6 am for the next day's work. Travel crossing time zones, means you may have 3 hours sleep before starting another days adventures. You have to be flexible, fit and have a great attitude to make this experience work. But it is an amazing adventure that I would not trade for anything!
What do you hope to take out of this experience?
I am learning so much during this trip, it has been a remarkable professional development experience. There is nothing that can compare to working with this level of international athletes. My greatest hope, however, is not for me to take something from the experience, but to give something back to my country. I am so proud to represent the USA in whatever way I am able.
With Coach Hewitt coaching the U19 team last year and now your role, what does it mean to you to have George Mason be involved at the national level?
I can tell you that George Mason University is an internationally famous institution. I have met people at EVERY stop along the way with knowledge of our school. Through athletics, we can send ambassadors throughout the world, telling our school's story. Keeping involved at this level, keeps Mason at the cutting edge of athletics and may provide inspiration for international athletes to come to Mason, and may open doors for our athletes to play professionally in other counties. With the diversity of our university, our international participation is a wonderful fit!Follow along with Debi and the USA U17 National Team at http://www.usabasketball.com/mens/u17/