Men's basketball team poses for a team photo
Lawrence University's men's basketball team will play three games on a trip to Greece. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

This is a road trip no one is griping about.
    The Lawrence University men’s basketball team is beyond excited for their impending three-game road trip. The Vikings leave June 16 for a 10-day trip to Greece, and head coach Casey Korn hopes it will be a transformational experience for his team.
    "The mission of our program, it's about people, it's about experiences, it's about relationships," Korn said. "We are hoping to give them a core memory, a lifelong memory."
    Korn, who just finished his third season with the Vikings, took a trip to Spain with UW-Oshkosh while he was serving as the Titans' assistant and saw the benefits of the experience.
    "I was fortunate enough to go on one of these with the Oshkosh program, and I have no idea how we did in the games," Korn said with a chuckle. "I can give you some very detailed stories about the tours. Having that and knowing how much it impacted me as an adult, it was something I wanted to find a way to do for our young men and our basketball family."
    The Vikings are set to face off in games with Maroussi B.C., Athens Select, and Doukas B.C. over a stretch of eight days.
    "We're still trying to win the games when we go to Greece," said guard Hogan Demovsky, a sophomore. "We're going to enjoy Greece, show up for the games and try to win, but it's not the most important thing in the world. You can play basketball games in Appleton, Wisconsin, but we're going to Greece."
    Demovsky emphasized the word Greece with a lilt in his voice, and his excitement over the trip was palpable. Demovsky said he hasn't traveled outside of the United States but was relishing the thought of this journey with his teammates.
    "We're all super close. We were talking about it a couple of days ago, we've known each other for nine months, but I feel like they are best friends in my life," Demovsky said. "We're going to explore together, and it will be something I'll look back at as one of best the experiences of my life, something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
   Some other team members also haven't traveled outside the United States; several others are experienced foreign travelers. RJ GambleNicolas Manzanera, and Manu Redah all have been abroad before, but Greece is a new destination for Gamble. The Vikings will take tours of sites like the Acropolis and the Panathenaic Stadium, whose origin dates back to 400 B.C. and hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896. The team also will travel to Santorini, the picture-postcard beautiful island in the Aegan Sea, for a cruise. A bike tour of Athens, a visit to Delphi and a day cruise of the Saronic Islands are also in the works.
    "I'm pumped. I'm most looking forward to the boat tour," said Gamble, who has multiple family members making the trip. "Just enjoying the clear water and the views. The boat tour is sticking out in my mind. Going on a cruise is the favorite way for me to vacation with my family so I'm looking forward to sharing that with my teammates."
    As for the basketball, "When we play our games, we're looking to compete and win, but when we go there it's about sharing the experience with everyone,” Gamble said. “That's the more important aspect of the trip, to be together."

Thomas Dimitros poses for a photo with a Greek flag.
Sophomore Thomas Dimitros is a native of Greece. 

The Vikings do have the advantage of a hometown guy on their team. Guard Thomas Dimitros, who just completed his first year at Lawrence, is an Athens native and anxious to show his teammates around his native country.    
    "I feel blessed and lucky, first of all, not that they will all come to my country, my home, but that I have met them and they helped me a lot when I needed someone back in the United States," Dimitros said. "So, yeah, I will try with them to spend these days right." 
Dimitros said he is looking forward to showing the rest of the Vikings the historic sites, and he can't wait to take them on a tour of all the great food Greece has to offer.
    "Thomas has lived in our world for the past nine months, and now we get to see what it's like for him," Demovsky said. "We're almost changing roles a little bit."
    The Vikings have another player with Greek heritage on the team, Nicholas Gouriotis, and this will be his first trip to the country of his ancestors. Gouriotis, a native of Elgin, Ill., who just completed his first year at Lawrence, has family in Greece he's never met. Not only is this Gouriotis' first trip to Greece, it's his first time on a plane, according to Korn.
    The expedition will be something new and different for everyone, and Korn believes it is this type of experience that makes a place like Lawrence special. 
    "We want our guys to understand the experience of where the ball is taking us,” Korn said, noting Lawrence's extensive study-abroad programs. “Some schools don't do these things. That's an experience you don't get everywhere." 
    You can follow the Vikings on social media as they travel across Greece. Lawrence men's basketball is on Facebook at Lawrence University Men's Basketball, on X @LUVikingsMBB and on Instagram and TikTok at luvikingsmbb.