Northwest Missouri State coach Austin Meyer celebrates a defensive stop in the second quarter of a December 19, 2018 win over Quincy at Bearcat Arena.

MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team will have a special opportunity this winter when they travel to Honolulu, Hawaii, for a pair of games in the Malika Sports Christmas Classic. 

Northwest coach Austin Meyer credits the team’s fundraising efforts as well as the players’ families for helping to make the trip possible. 

“From a funding standpoint, we were very fortunate that we had some people come forward when we were discussing if we were going to be able to make the trip happen,” Meyer said. 

The Bearcats will face Alaska-Anchorage at 8 p.m. (central time) on December 19. The Seawolves advanced to the Division-II Sweet 16 last season and finished with a 31-3 overall regular-season record. 

The next day, Northwest will face the NAIA’s Lindenwood-Belleville at 5 p.m.

“The biggest things that we want to focus on with our program are, obviously graduate our kids and prepare them for life after college, win at a high level which we are confident we are going to do and then just make it the best possible experience for our student athletes,” Meyer said. 

Meyer hopes to turn special trips like this one into a regular occurrence every few years. He remembers the opportunity to make a Hawaii trip during his playing days as a Bearcat. 

“I was fortunate that I got to do it during my time as a student at Northwest,” Meyer said. “We are just trying to do that again and give our kids the chance to experience that.”

That experience is just a part of the reason why Meyer is making sure he includes the entire team on the trip including the redshirt players, so everyone can experience it. 

“Obviously there is a basketball element to it,” Meyer said. “We are going there to compete and win games, but this is an experience that everyone across the board is going to get.”

Bearcat junior Mallory McConkey has already made one long trip to play basketball this season when she went to Spain with Beyond Sports Tours. 

“I’m excited about the competition and just the chance to play basketball in Hawaii,” McConkey said. 

McConkey, originally from Guilford, enjoyed the Spain trip and the ability to bond with the other girls on her team. Now she and the rest of the Bearcats will have the opportunity to do that with their college teammates. 

“Being able to spend that whole time with my teammates is something I’m really excited for,” McConkey said. 

Meyer will begin his second season as the Bearcat coach on November 8 at a tournament in Kearney, Nebraska.