HOLLAND -- As a prelude to their upcoming seasons, the Hope College soccer teams will soon be heading to Europe for training, competition and service in Ireland and Scotland.

The men's team will be taking its fourth European trip (July 29-August 8) while the women's team will be making their second (July 31-August 10).

Both teams last traveled internationally in 2005 and the following fall each won the championship of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).

The teams begin on-campus practice for their 2009 campaigns on August 24th with season openers the first weekend in September.

This year's trips are a prelude to what promises to be a very exciting soccer season. The college's new $4 million Van Andel Soccer Stadium, currently under construction, will be ready to be used during the heart of the teams' conference seasons.

Under NCAA rules, college athletic teams are allowed to make international trips every four years.  Earlier this summer the men's and women's swimming teams traveled to Spain.  Members of the previous year's team are eligible to participate.

Each team is scheduled to play four "friendly" games.  There will be opportunities for the teams to attend professional soccer games and observe practices. A community service project is planned by each team.  There will be plenty of sightseeing for the players, coaches and family members accompanying the teams.

Over the years the college has encouraged its Hope athletic teams to have an international experience. Other teams that have traveled internationally include baseball, men's and women's basketball, football, men's golf, women's and men's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming, and volleyball.