Lehigh Valley women’s basketball coach participates in United World Games

participants smile at the United World Games

The U.S.and Austrian teams at the gold medal game.

Credit: Penn State Lehigh Valley

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — Penn State Lehigh Valley head women’s basketball coach Lorie Khalil recently returned from her “fourth once in a lifetime experience” of coaching a team of basketball players in Europe this past June.

Khalil was selected as one of the coaches for the Student Athlete World USA (SAWUSA)’s 2024 United World Games (UWG), an event that attracts thousands of athletes from across the globe to compete in many different sports. According to UWG’s website, the games are a major annual sporting event under the patronage of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which has grown continuously and improved in quality since its inception in 2005. International friendship and cultural exchange through sport are at the heart of the UWG.

Khalil traveled to Germany, Austria and Italy over nine days with a group of over 140 people who all share a love of basketball.

“I’m very thankful to [SAWUSA President] Tim Ryerson for yet another international coaching experience and being able to represent both Penn State Lehigh Valley and the U.S.,” Khalil said. “I have to give a special shout out to my former SAWUSA player and now assistant coach Darrianne Atkinson for being super helpful all trip.”

Khalil has coached teams at previous United World Games in Portugal, Spain, Argentina and Costa Rica.

Khalil’s U19 women’s team had the best finish in all four tours, finishing 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the United World Games, placing second out of eight U19 girls’ basketball teams.

“We fell to a tough Austrian team in the gold medal game. In our pool play, we played teams from Hungary, Germany, Austria and another [U.S.] team,” Khalil said.

It wasn’t all play, however.

“We got to experience very competitive European basketball, a well-run, exciting United World Games opening ceremonies with entertainment and fireworks, beautiful Alps, eating dinner in a castle, touring a salt mine, I tried authentic Austrian cuisine and ate enough schnitzel for a lifetime, and got to travel to Venice, Italy, for a day trip to explore and got to ride a gondola. But most importantly, we made connections and memories for a lifetime,” Khalil said.

The group of over 100 players and coaches didn’t know each other prior to the trip, but bonded quickly, Khalil said.

“This group of players and their families who just met in person days prior were incredibly responsive, receptive, coachable and all around just great people,” Khalil said. “The best way to cure ignorance is to travel, and then do it with 140-plus people who all share the same love of the game.”