KINGSFORD - Four years ago, Courtney Qualley played on an AAU girls basketballs team that won a state tournament in Lower Michigan.
Little did the first-year team know that win was sending them to the ESPN Zone in Florida for the national girls championship. It was a memory of a lifetime for those girls,
Fast forward four years to today. Many of these same girls still play on an AAU team together.
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Kingsford High School basketball standout Courtney Qualley is off to Europe later this month.
The team is based out of Marquette and is made up of girls from Kingsford, Bark River, Escanaba, Gladstone, Marquette, Ishpeming, and Calumet.
Again, little did they know that last fall, Ken Patrick, former coach at the University of Miami and an experienced international coach, would team up with their AAU coach and present them with another unbelievable experience - a trip overseas to play basketball in three different countries in Europe over a two weeks.
Qualley, a senior at Kingsford High School, has played varsity basketball for three seasons and has one year to go.
Team Florida USA, as it is known, departs July 23 for Finland and travels to Estonia and Latvia for an international tour that will be educational and cultural as well as an opportunity to display their basketball skills.
In addition to bi-weekly practices in Marquette in preparation for the trip, the girls also have to learn about electrical adaptors, passports and luggage weights as they prepare to travel abroad.
This group of girls has spent the past six months fund-raising for the trip. Qualley will be hosting a spaghetti dinner on Thursday, July 10, at Dalla's Diner from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The meal is free but donations are accepted.
The community is welcome to join her that evening as she serves them dinner. Those unable to attend but would like to make a donations can drop it off at Dalla's Diner or call (906)282-3580.
She expressed appreciation to everyone that has helped her thus far.
Her teammates are Kaylie Engler, Ishpming; Lizzy Kurin, Destiny Beckwith and Shayla Huebner, Marquette; Alexis St Cyr, Gladstone;
Michelle LaFave, Escanaba; Caitlyn Frazer and Katie Schultz, Bark River, and Clara Loukus, Calumet. Marquette's Lisa Coombs is the coach.