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Monday, July 11, 2016

Game, Rest, Eat, Walk, ... and PLAY.

Was meant to post earlier.. just realized it was lost in internet abyss.
 Let's cut to the chase.  Italy was not a worthy opponent.  As much as I thought we would enjoy relaxing a bit, I was wrong.  I'd rather play a tight match that tests our team and makes them better than play the type of match that was handed to us.  The Italian women's deaf team trudged out with an old, beat up, crew.  They packed it in and waited for the onslaught. It took our team longer than necessary to score the first goal, but once the goal #1 found it's target, the remaining goals came at a fairly steady pace. Similar to when you go out for the night and you have to pee.  You hold it for as long as possible, even if you are uncomfortable to not break the seal.   Everyone knows once you pee that first time, then it seems you have to go every 15 minutes.  That's sort of how the game went. Held it, held  it, held it.... then a goal. And another and another every 15 minutes.  Maybe that's stretching the analogy, but the game was not worthy of breaking down with commentary and that's the only thing that's coming to my mind at this point.

"Coaching Staff's Satellite Office" 
What I did enjoy was watching the team play a little more relaxed, & of course leaping one big step closer to the final made for a great day at the office.  Ohhhh, the office.. I literally grin every time I have to lace up my cleats.  Over the years it gets a bit tougher to reach the laces, the legs aren't as lean and my glasses slip off my head when I bend over to tighten them extra tight.  I smile because this is when the realization hits me that this is my "day at the office".

Okay, back to the 2016 Deaf World Football Championship.  Yesterday,  after our game we raced back to change clothes to head to the city of Eboli where the mayor was going to show us a museum; a big portion dedicated to the US Army coming to the rescue.  It would have been fantastic had the event took place on another day. What we thought was a quick photo op' turned into a 3 hour tour;  complete with a short hike to the museum, a tour of the museum (very cool to see the part the U.S. played in saving the cities where we have been playing our games), a walk through the city, photo op that took an eternity and on and on and on.

At the moment someone explained we were going to see archeological ruins.. Joy stepped up to the Mayor (still don't know his name as we were all hypoglycemic by then)  and turned into "GrrrrrrrrRoar" What is "Grrrrrr?" Well, let me explain.  When the staff was initiated into the DWNT group we received our "Sign Name." Joy's was a hand gesture, much like a lions paw swiping the air to scare the crap out of you and get you to run the other way.  I laughed when she got her name as she is the most soft spoken, kind-hearted person I know.  The team explained that ... well.. they are still in awe of getting to hang with a legend AND that is how they see her as a player.  True, True, they were right about that.
Anyway, "Grrrrr" steps up to The Mayor  and growls, "These girls have not eaten since 12:30 and it's 10:00 at night.  We are not going to visit the an archeological site" and down the street she marched toward the bus with 18 dehydrated, starving, grateful players who adequately had named their coach.

Men's & Women's USA Deaf National Team along with Italy Men's Team before total starvation kicked in

Flying through the roundabouts as if on the Tea Cups on Disneyland, we landed at our hotel at 11:15 PM, fifteen minutes past the time to get food.  
Jack, Nick, Ben, and staff sped to the local restaurant where the brick ovens had cooled,  the owner left sipping wine at a table where the tablecloth had already been removed,  to put his stamp on the end of the day. Pointing to a menu he seemed to say, "Sure.. why not."  Slowly he headed to set fire to the ovens and when he returned our team of 18 had joined us.  This is where America has it wrong.  He seemed to enjoy the business, enjoy the company, and enjoy whatever this diverse gang was going to bring to his evening.  We sat shoveling the tastiest pizza into our mouths,  on a summer night, with tea lights winking at us.    Eleven hours since our last meal, this quiet little place turned what could have been a disaster of an evening into my favorite night since we arrived. When in doubt, "Go with the Flow" . 

"Day off" consisted of a walk to the beach to mix up the routine and cool off.  The team dispersed on their own for a chunk of time in the day.  I have yet to figure out the perfect balance of down time... down time with team versus with family / friends.  If anyone has the perfect formula, please let me know.  Yes, this team is different and has unique qualities that make it unlike any other.  But it's also similar to every other team on the planet. How to rest players... while allowing them to find energy and not feel lethargic from resting is an art. I think for this team, it's a bit easier because of the bond they share that makes them unique; uniquely together. 
 It makes me appreciate what the veterans of the full WNT players do on such a regular basis. Even with contracts, and salaries they too have to wait, each lots of chicken, find ways to kill time because that is what is best for the team. 

DWNT Team played Left, Right, Center and Anna Smither came out a bit wealthier than when she sat down.  Led by the veterans, lots of fun time has been spent finding ways to thank the NWSL and WNT players who have supported this team.   It doesn't cost anything to say thanks!

We visited Paestum, an ancient Greek city that date back from 600-450 BC.  I can't wrap my head around how long ago that was.  It's crazy to me that so much of the structures of the city are still intact.  Ornate floors, beautifully shaped columns,  amphitheaters and temples that allow what little history I recall to come to life.  Nick knows more about this era than I do, so he clarifies my inquiries while simultaneously taking "pano's" on his phone and Ben tries to catch a lizard.  

The Griffins in one place.   

Today we are gearing up for Poland.  A physical team with some special players.  With only 1 day in between games, training has been limited.  We've played pick up with players that need to keep the legs in motion... so games are our training.  We've had a different starting line-up every game to see what each player can give us with regards to certain tandems or positions.  Again, I am not sure it would be so easy to do with other teams but "Go with the Flow" and "Trust" go hand in hand with this team.  

Our meetings take place on our walks.  More interactive than a dark meeting room, and quite possibly a better visual.  

Slowly but surely the organizing committee members have seen our team on a daily basis.  The frowns have turned into "thumbs up" and smiles with a "good luck" or "congratulations"  

Our team's fan base has been accumulating since we arrived.  

We are ready:  I GOT YOUR BACK

Until next time:  Go USA!

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