This is PART 3 of a series on the Beakats international trip to Costa Rica

By Jeremy Villanueva //

Sam Houston State men’s basketball sits three weeks out from its season opener against LeTourneau, but the Bearkats head into the 2016-17 campaign with maybe more chemistry than they’ve had before.

And that is thanks to the Kats’ trip to Costa Rica.

Next to visiting an orphanage and playing exhibition games while on the trip, the Bearkats also had downtime to grow in their brotherhood. Visiting a resort, beaches and zip lining were amongst the activities the team was able to enjoy preparing for the season.

“That team and program is my family,” head coach Jason Hooten said. “To take your family with you and then start adding we’re going to another country. We’re going to get to share that. We’re going to share somebody else’s culture. Go further, what do we love to do? We love to play basketball and be together. It goes a long way to bonding an even stronger family.”

After the Kats finished their win over the Costa Rica National Team, they headed to a town named Jacó. There they stayed at a resort and enjoyed community with one another.

“We stayed at a beautiful resort,” Hooten said. “You could walk 50 yards from the back of the hotel to the beach. They had 10 connecting pools. We let our guys tour the resort and hangout.”

The Kats climbed to the top of a nearby mountain the next morning where they would take 11 connecting zip lines back down. Although a few players might have been a bit nervous to zip line, the support of their teammates helped them defeat their fear.

“That zip lining will make you second-guess yourself,” Hooten said. “We had a few guys [that were fearful]. There were those guys who get up there because the team is doing it. The next thing you know, they’re going. I think that’s part of guys doing things they couldn’t think they could do.”

Hooten might not have zip lined himself, but it did not stop him from supporting his team.

“I’m the world’s biggest chicken when it comes to heights,” he said. “I’m there for them. I cheered them on and took pictures and drove back down to the bottom of the mountain.”

The Kats return eight players to the court this season with a handful of new additions. Hooten said the Costa Rica trip helped instill the Kats’ mottos early on and provide a special camaraderie his team could take into the year.

“They were having a good time [in Costa Rica],” Hooten said. “They are family. Those are all things essential to having a good time. A family believes. I got that from the first guy I worked. That’s what our team is all about. It just represents what we’re all about.” ​