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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Time to prepare is over. Time to perform is now.

The Bow.  I love the bow.  A nice gesture for all occasions and all people.  A show of sincere respect and gratitude.  It can also mean "Congratulations, I'm sorry, please, many thanks," A 5 to10 degree bow is a casual, informal "Hello," similar to our "'Sup?" The most common is a 30 degree angled bow to greet customers or thank someone.  A more formal bow is performed at about 45 degrees while looking down at your feet which is a sign of deep gratitude, formal apology or asking for a favor.  There is eye contact, however slight, but it is there and it is friendly and subtle and heartfelt.

Janet, My "Cho" Roommate- Means "Super" in Japanese
My roommate, Janet,  helped a women down the stairs with her walker and she bowed ever so slowly 3 times.  So deep intact,  I thought she had dropped something.  I bent down to look for the dropped item... at which point she bowed to what she thought was my bow.  I, of course, wanted to show my respect at her bowing to me, so gave her a few deep bows of my own.

It is easy to get used to. It flows, it comes from the inside out.  I like to bow.  I think of our formal hand shake,  or the manly hand clasp with interlocked thumbs, followed by shoulder to shoulder bumper-hug.  We cannot forget the awkward hug when you think you were going in for a hug but your friend did not. You hesitate for a split second but realize you cannot back out of it.  I cannot imagine what the Japanese people think of our popular 'pound me'  followed by a "blow it up" for special occasions.

 A few days ago a small group of young men from a a local university gathered to give each player a necklace made of red, white and blue cranes and read the story of Sadako.
The Big Arch Stadium in background is ready for us.
They spoke of how Hiroshima continues to be a leader in spreading world peace.  It is their hope that the U.S.A. plays their way to the final and players can wear the necklaces on the podium for the world to see.  The 3 other teams staying in Hiroshima (Ghana, China and Germany) also received similar necklaces in colors representing their country. Cranes = Peace = Hiroshima  This is their message. 
Amongst tears and thank you's our team was very grateful.  "This is the best memento I have ever received," I overheard as the players carefully placed them on the bench before training began.

There is not a lot of space here in Japan.  The country is 11% smaller that the state of California.  The population of Japan is roughly 130 million.
To avoid long ramps for cars to find parking, vehicles take the elevator
 It would be like putting 40% of the U.S. population into the state of California.  I have been in 2 big cities, and they are quiet.  It is not a crowded feeling.  Space, property and nature are precious commodities.

Children are everywhere, but strollers are not.  Seems as though folks walk and ride bikes.  As a matter of fact, the few cries I've heard have been from children that can't quite keep up or are testing the waters to see if mom or dad will whisk them away.  Inevitably, parents continue their journey and the kids scamper along to catch up with the universal cry of "Hey! Wait for me!"  Nick and Ben, I think of you often.  The smiles of the children here remind me of what great smiles I am related to back in the U.S.A.

I am excited to watch the U20 team play in the first match.  Over the last year and a half, the players have grown together to become one.  I can sense their excitement but yesterday seemed to be the day they collectively portrayed "WHEN ARE WE GOING PLAY ALREADY?!!!"

Coaches Steve Swanson & April Heinrichs 
My former teammate on the 1991 USA team and Director of Youth National Teams,  April Heinrichs reminded the team that the time to prepare has ended.  The time to perform is upon us. Not sure about the team, but I got goose bumps!

In the midst of all the training and tryouts and tournaments and seasons and dreams and goals and games, I am not sure these players have ever been told to stop preparing.   enjoy the fact and  to..... to PLAY.

There is no turning back and that is a good thing. The U20 WNT is excited to have the world watch.

Congratulations to the Huskies after the 2-0 win over Seattle U.  
Dawgs, Yeah! 
Gametracker... Boooooooo! 
Husky Purple

Nick and Ben, thank you for allowing me this opportunity.


  1. Good Luck!! I know it's been a hard long road but you can do it! :) Wish I was there. It would have brought our USSF careers full circle. :)

  2. Ok, after watching the first game which Congrats on, I decided that I need to get a Morgan Brian jersey. :) I also like the hat Swanson had too. And I think this group is the best of both teams we've had with a couple missing. Miss you all!

  3. Ha! The hat! Thinking of cartoon character.... claymation... Need help!

  4. It was Sam the Eagle. LOL Still cracks me up every time I think of it! :)

  5. So fun to follow your adventures. About the population density of Japan, I always heard it was about 1/2 the pop. of the U.S. living in the area of California but actually more like West Virginia because most of Japan is too mountainous. I know they sell land by the square centimeter.