Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wait... this post isn't about rugby... it's about the Caribbean

Over the past few years I have gotten various requests to get back to my blog.  I don't as a rule have the discipline for regularly on-going blogging.  I more find it a useful tool for specific events.  So, when I got a request that I try and revisit my blog this summer while I am working in the Caribbean, I agreed to it... to try that is.  We'll see how it goes.  Blogging during a World Cup is considerably easier than trying to do it on a boat with no internet and surrounded by students.  Maybe I'll just link my page to the student's updates that they will be writing every day.

I guess before I get into it all, I should give a little backstory about what the heck I am doing in the Caribbean anyways.

I am working for an organization called BroadReach for the summer.  BroadReach runs programs all over the world for middle school, high school, and college students.  I applied for the job last fall and after a long wait, I found out I got the position I wanted in February!  I will be working with a group of college students as a sailing instructor and as adjunct faculty for a Lesley-based Leadership and Ethics class.  This job seemed like the prefect fit for the summer because it combines my love of being on the water and sailing with gaining more experience teaching college courses and, did I mention, it's in the Caribbean!?!

Needless to say it's been quite the whirlwind of activity over the past month to get ready, from finding animal-sitters (Thanks Drew and Aleena!) and subletters to hours of staff training.  But it's been worth it to finally be here and get to wake up every morning and to do intervals on the beach or swim with sea turtles (gotta keep up my training).

I'll do a subsequent post talking about what I've actually been doing here for the past week and a half.  This was just meant as an intro to me actually being back at this... or trying to be. But I'll leave you with a picture from where I am living now!

Monday, September 06, 2010

UK Eagles 13: Where did the time go

Alright, well the time has finally come... we're heading home after almost a month away.  I'm at Heathrow airport, a little tired, sore, and dehydrated, but here.  I am sad to lose this experience, but definitely happy to be heading home. It's been a long campaign.  In light of that, I'll keep this one relatively short, but hopefully will get out a longer one once I've settled back into Boston.

Sha does a great Jamie impressionSo, Saturday we had our captain's run then I did some more packing before the ultimate flea market.  The Welsh girls put up signs advertising the 'Wales Kit Swap Shop' in their common room.  All the teams showed up with their various kit and went to town.  We were only able trade for a bit before heading over to our rookie skit and jersey ceremony.  The rookie skit was hysterical.  I particularly appreciated Sha's impression of me.  After the jersey presentation we presented coaches' and manager's presents.  Afterwards, we went back to the dorms, where there was still trading happening.  I didn't get too involved in the trading because I was too busy trying to deal with the fact that I had gotten news earlier in the evening that my car was towed back home.  That was less than ideal.  Monica was a saint for taking on dealing with most of it so that I didn't have to.  After that I was ready to hit the hay.

Game day was pretty fast and furious.  We had core and arousal workout early, and then there was only a short while before our match.  It was a crazy intense match but in the end we came out victorious 23-20.  Everyone was super excited! I was so proud of us and I am continually amazed at how far we've come in 4 years, but also, how far we came just in this one tour.  We got a surprise for a win in Dave streaking the field in a star spangled bikini bottom trailing an American flag behind him.  There are some great pictures from it.  I'll post one once I get it.

Finals at the StoopAfter the game there was very little time because we had to get dressed to head over to the Stoop to watch the finals.  It was also an intense game with NZ beating England 13-10.  It was a great environment for that type of match!

Front Row loveAfter the match, we changed into our number ones and went over to the Holly Hog Roast and got a chance to hang out with some of the other teams.  We played a lot of games and sang songs before departing back to the sports park at 10:30pm.  That's where the true party began.  They had the entire sports park closed down for just the teams and accredited personnel.  They got a DJ and had dancing.  It was a lot of fun, but exhausting.  I finally made my way to bed around 3am and I was one of the early birds of the various teams.

This morning was a crazy event (as it always is) of getting everything packed and organized to head home.  There was a lot of work spent on getting bags to weigh less than 23kgs... mine was over, but they let it pass.  Now we are just waiting for our flight.  Nothing like an 8 hour flight to feel refreshed!  Alright, they just announced our boarding gate, so I'm going to sign out and go load up!  Next time I write, it'll be from the USA!

Author's Note:
I didn't want to lose the links to the various news articles regarding the 2010 World Cup, but also didn't want to keep the massive link bar on the side of the page, so I decided to post them here after the fact:

Somerville Wins over KZN
The New York Times
The Times Record - "National Treasures Visit Bowdoin"
The Times Record - Women's Rugby Takes Center Stage
The Portland Press Herald
The Hippo
Somerville News - Off to the World Cup
The Somerville Scout
UNH News

Tufts University E-news
Washington State Magazine
The Watertown News
Crossfit Oakland
Bowdoin Campus News
All Over Albany
Albany Times Union

Saturday, September 04, 2010

UK Eagles 12: Cheering for our fans

Alright, I need to break up some of the monotony of packing for a bit.

Sha in the spotlightSo, I spent all afternoon Thursday working on various things for school and work.  It wasn't particularly entertaining, but it was helpful to my psyche.  Then I got packed for the trading extravaganza/team BBQ.  Everyone made fun of my huge bag, but then understood my reasoning when they saw how much loot I had to work with.  There was a relatively casual BBQ that all the teams attended, then it was into the trading mayhem.  It was like auctioneering.  People were vying for Ireland's Puma fleeces and Wales' Under armor shorts, jockeying for position.  It continued back at the dorms for a long time with different teams coming out at various points.  Afterwards, everyone hung out at the dorms modeling their new schwag.  I spent some time hanging out talking with Cheeks and Farrah about how far we've come since death tour 2007 before heading off to bed.

I woke up late yesterday morning and ate a light breakfast of yogurt and cereal.  Then we had a meeting to go over the game plan for Canada as well as get selections for the match.  I am back in my favorite spot as #3.  I am excited to get back on the field.  It's been a while since I've played THP against Canada.  The past 4 times we've played I've played LHP, but I've been getting a lot of good THP time here, so I am excited 

Our USA Fans Team
We had lunch over at the dining hall before a light practice to go over some of the things in the game plan.  After practice, it was up to the pool for a quick recovery swim.  We spent  the evening supporting our supporters.  Some American fans set up a USA fans vs British Police rugby match.  We went as  a team to support the fans who have been so instrumental in keeping our spirits up throughout this long World Cup campaign.  We watched the game and then hung out socializing over pizza and fries.  Then we boarded back up into our Mercedes-Benz bus to head back to the sports park.

We got back a little before 10, so there was just a little time to read before heading to bed.

I woke up at 9:20 this morning to an email saying we needed to have our bikes up to the Surrey Sports Park by 9:30am.  Needless to say, I did not have my normal leisurely morning routine.  I hopped up and got dressed and pedaled over to turn Truman in.  It was another sad day.  First, I had to give back Alice in Maine and now Truman in England.  I am going to start having some issues.  After wishing adieu to Truman, I went in and ate some breakfast since I was over near the dining hall anyways.  Then I WALKED (le sigh) back over to the dorms and decided to start packing.  I realized that we leave in only two days and that once we get into game mode tomorrow there really won't be any time to do it, so now I'm in the midst of clothes and shoes and everything else under the sun.  Alright, back to the packing mayhem!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

UK Eagles 11: North American Rivalry

Blair's fan clubYesterday seemed to fly by.  I watched some of the earlier matches while eating a picnic with Monica.  We watched South Africa beat Kazakhstan and Wales take it to Sweden.  I got to see the Groefsema gang all decked out again.  Then it was time to head back to the dorms and over to warm-up.

Final ScoreThe team played a terrific match against Ireland yesterday.  We won 40-3.  I am really happy about the way the team played.  Everyone seemed to be gelling out there.  It is hard to not feel like I was physically a part of such a phenomenal victory, but I know that I played my role.  But it's still a challenge.  Also, it's hard to see how well we played in that match and play the woulda, coulda, shoulda game in our head....  This means we get to play Canada on Sunday in the 5th place match-up.  How ironic that we would fly all the way across the Atlantic to wind up playing our North American rivals in our final match.

After the match everyone stuck around the bar at the Sports Park to watch the semi-final matches being held at the Stoop. New Zealand beat France handedly, but the Australia-England game was quite the fight.  England only beat Australia 15-0, and that score was 12-0 for the entire second half until the final 3 minutes or so.  I would've loved to see an upset, but alas, England is just too well-drilled and disciplined and were able to hold the Aussies out.  To this point, we are still the only team to have scored on England in this tourney.

After the games, I went back to the dorms and watched the newest Trueblood episode.  There were a couple of scenes that were freaky and I'm surprised I didn't have crazy dreams last night, but I guess I was tired enough for it to not be an issue.  I got up this morning with thoughts of school and work running through my head, so I made myself breakfast and relegated myself to a day in front of my computer.  Some folks are heading in to London, but I figure I've been there a number of times and I really need to get some stuff done, so here I sit... now it's back to it.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

UK Eagles 10: Last Week

Yet another game day is upon us.  It seems I keep finding myself writing on game-days.  I guess it's because we tend to have so much time to try and kill on those days and it gives me something to occupy my time and keep me from being overly-anxious.  Although, I must admit, I am considerably less antsy today because I am not rostered for the match... That may change once the game begins and I acknowledge that I have no control over the outcome of the match...  But back to my post.

I slept like the the dead Sunday night.  I was completely exhausted.  This whole process takes everything out of you and my body was definitely over being functional last night.  I made a delicious breakfast burrito for myself, which definitely started my day off right. Then I got a surprise visit from Monica who came by to give me an American flag blanket for my room.

Monica left to head to London and I made my way over to our little grass patch for core before heading to the gym to get a little workout in before heading to lunch.  I am definitely missing cooking for myself and have been eating fewer and fewer meals at the dining hall.  In fact, I came back to the dorms and made myself a supplemental lunch of nutella, peanut butter, and banana sandwich with some milk.  It made me a happier camper.

Sunset over the ThamesThen it was off to a meeting to announce roster and go over match tape from the England match.  For the first time since January of 2006, I was not rostered for a match.  It was a strange sensation.  I am bummed of course, but also understand that my body needs a break.  I don't know that I would have had the self-awareness to recognize that 4 years ago, but I get it much better now. We had a practice to get the team ready for the game.  Then I came back to the dorm and showered quickly so that I could go meet Monica in London for dinner.  I had thought about going and then was waffling, but when I found out I wasn't rostered it helped me make up my mind.

Yummy Indian foodSo, PK, Ash, Hannah, Em, and I took the train out of Guildford into London to meet up with various folks.  Monica and I wandered out from Waterloo station and just meandered around the Thames.  We got to watch the end of the sunset over the river, which was beautiful.  We then spent considerable time in the Theatre district looking at the different sights before heading into a delicious Indian restaurant for dinner.  We ate a ton.  It was heavenly (I got to eat the left-overs for lunch today!).  Then we took a double-decker bus back to the flat she is renting and passed out.  This morning we strolled around the neighborhood and drank coffee before we made our way over to Clapham Junction for me to catch the train back to Guildford.  I spent some time wandering around Guildford shopping before heading back to Surrey Sports Park.  I spent most of the afternoon just visiting with people, getting bills paid, and generally trying to stay on top of everything back home since school officially started yesterday!  EEK!

From there it was into our captain's run before dinner.  My mom and John came over and we ate dinner at the Bench (the restaurant in Surrey Sports Complex) along with half the rest of our team.  Then it was off to the jersey ceremony.  After the jersey ceremony I came back to my room and got things organized for being back at work next week and did my laundry.  I know, it's an exciting life I live!  Somehow all of that took quite a while and next thing I knew it was midnight and I was heading to bed.

We got up this morning and had a leisurely breakfast in the flat next door.  There was a lot of laughing and carrying-on.  And then it was out to core and arousal before lunch.  And now it is waiting time.  Monica is supposed to be meeting me so we can watch the earlier games before our warm-up starts, but she appears to be late... that's alright, it gave me more time to get this done.  Alright, off to watch South Africa play Kazakhstan and then it'll be round 2 against Ireland!  

Sunday, August 29, 2010

UK Eagles 9: Feeling like Julia Roberts

So closeWe spent all morning/afternoon yesterday waiting for the match against England.  We got to watch some of the earlier matches.  There was quite a big upset in the mix with France beating Canada pretty handedly.  After watching some rugby we had to go bag inside to rest some more so we spent that rest time finishing the puzzle and having hallway dance parties.

Finally it was time for the match.  We Once again the fans were amazing.  Blair's whole gang was there and they were body-painted and decked out to the nines.  Blair's mom brought 25 Abe Lincoln-style tall red-white-and-blue hats for folks to wear.  We could hear them all over the field.  Though we didn't win the match, it was a great game and I am very proud of the way the team played.  We fought hard and left it all out on the field, which is all we could ask for.  After the match it was more ice-baths and pool sessions before heading back to my room to hit the hay.  I was exhausted.  Completely drained.  It's been a while since I've felt that tired both mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I think all the physical energy coupled with the emotional energy that always goes into a game of that magnitude and intensity just took it out of me.

I wish I would have gotten a chance to sleep in, but alas I told Monica I would meet her and A-C in the Starbucks at 9am.  So IWoke up and made my way over to breakfast at the Sports Complex.  At 10am, I received a text saying "I think we are talking about different Starbucks".  Though I wished I could've been sleeping, I wasn't too fussed because I got to do a lot of reading, which I had been missing.  We had a quick pool session at 11am before getting lunch.

Stomping divotsAfter lunch, and several outfit changes, we loaded up into a bus (and several mini-vans) to head out to Windsor Park, which is a part of the Windsor Castle Estate. Beckett's uncle had gotten the whole team tickets to a match at the Queen's Guard Polo Ground.  We were there to see the finals of the Duke of Cornwall Tourney.  It was a 4 chukka match (4 periods) with the first two chukkas happening in typical British weather - rain varying between a drizzle to outright downpour.  The last half was held under a clear blue sky, though.  At half-time we got to go out onto the field and stomp in the divots ala Pretty Woman.   I think perhaps we resembled Julia Roberts a bit in our cheering as well.  We weren't sure that we were allowed to be super loud, but then the commentator goaded us into getting a bit more boisterous in our applause.  After the match, Ashley and I helped hand out awards to the two teams which entailed a whole lot of cheek kissing.
The MVP of the Polo match
Cheekers has the party room
After the match we took the bus home, and then many of us headed into Guildford for dinner with friends and family.  Monica and I met up with my mom and John and went out to dinner at the Three Pigeons, which is the restaurant I ate at with Stina last Sunday.  It was good, to get away and see my family and get to spend some time with Monica.  After dinner, we walked around town a bit before heading back home. I went back the dorms and hung out with folks chatting a bit before heading back to my room.  I originally was just going to download pictures from Bill English's Photo site, but then I got a second wind and decided to write this post.  I was going to wait until tomorrow to do it, but the schedule looks pretty busy, so I decided not to wait.

So, now it's time for bed.  Gotta get some good rest in preparation for what looks to be an intense day tomorrow.  I am a little nervous for how sore I am going to be tomorrow since that'll be two days after the match and that tends to be when the soreness hits its peak.  I guess it's a good thing we are hitting the gym in the morning, so we can work out some of it before practice.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

UK Eagles 8: Moving on and up...

 After multiple times starting to write and then getting distracted by other activities, I think I finally might be in a position to get caught up.  We have a little time this morning before we go over to the fields to watch some of the Sweden-Scotland match for me to get started, and then a lot of time this afternoon waiting for our game.   So I should be able to get it all in before our last pool match this evening against England... so going back...

Scoring a tryMy last post was right before the Ireland match and a lot has happened since then.  That game was really hard, both physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It is really disappointing when you feel like you should have won a game and instead, lost it to yourself.  We just couldn't seem to get out of our own way in terms of penalties and possession issues.  It was also hard because I didn't feel like I performed as well as I know I can because of the cold I was fighting.  Very frustrating and disappointing!  Although, I did score my first International Try, so that's something.  Needless to say, the mood back in the dorms was really somber as each of us processed the implications of the match.  I coped in my own way by sitting with the stats sheets and figuring out where we were in the points and what needed to happen in the 3rd pool games for us to still get into the semi-finals.  Being able to use my logic allows me to manage the emotion better.  It's my own form of mourning that I feel more control over.  

I slept really late on Wednesday trying to kick the rest of this sickness.  The morning was spent having some coaches and captain's meetings to try and figure out how to recover from yesterday's loss.  After those meetings, it was over to the pool for a recovery session and then lunch.  After lunch we went and did a light lift in the gym to get the muscles moving and get the crap flowing out of our joints.  It felt good to get on the rower and just move around a little.  Then we had a meeting to go over our game plan for England and get ourselves mentally aligned as a team and announce selections for the England match.  I'll be at tighthead again, which is exciting because I feel like my engage has been really strong recently.

Christy is so happy to have her bag backThen it was then time for dinner before coming back to the dorms for some serious chill-out time.  Christy finally got her luggage back - after it being lost for the past two weeks.  So we had a lot of priceless picture moments of her being reunited with her bag.  Also, we finally got to watch Phaidra on her episode of MTV's Made.  It was hysterical and painful all at once.  I would have strangled that girl if I had to try and coach her.  I started writing that night, but decided sleep was more important for getting the last of this illness out, so only got little bullet points down before passing out.

Thursday, I had a lazy morning followed by a core session with the forwards.  We had a really productive and fun session before heading to lunch.  I think we needed a little levity to get back into a relaxed state of mind.  After lunch, there was very little time before we had to load up into a bus to head to our private practice session.  We had a short, but sweet practice to work out a few things that we felt needed to be cleaned up.  When we got back to the Sports Park, we had ice baths and then we got some much needed free time.  In fact we didn't have anything that we had to be back for until our captain's run late Friday.  I'm not sure what everyone else did, but I took trains, planes, and automobiles to London to see my family.  It was great to see my dad, Jack, and Jane.  We went out to dinner in Grosvenor Square and then I stayed there with them.

Breakfast of champions
My biggest fansFriday morning, I ate an amazing breakfast with Jack (waffles with strawberries and ice-cream) after spending the morning lounging and talking with my Dad.   I took train back to Guildford and did some shopping before heading to Surrey Sports Park to relax for the afternoon.  I did some much needed laundry and walked over to the TESCO to get food for the next week.  We then had Captain's practice quickly followed by the jersey ceremony.  It was great to have my family there.  My dad was there with Jack and Jane, and my Mom and John were there.  Everyone loved Jack.  What's not to love... well, I guess they don't have to try and get him to eat vegetables.  It was also exciting to have Potter with us again.  We've missed her and it's great to get to see her.
Me with my mom  and John
Puzzle - Take 3It was nice to get to spend time with everyone, but definitely overwhelming by the end. I went back to the dorms with every intention of writing, but then Lynelle opened a new puzzle - that's the craze around these here parts.  It's a crazy puzzle that in which the picture on the box doesn't match what the puzzle will look like.  Instead, there is a character in the picture on the box and the image on the puzzle is what that person's perspective would be.By the time I went to bed, Vix, V, Lynelle, and myself were talking to ourselves and the puzzle and it was 1/2 done. I was worried I would find them in there first thing in the morning. 

I woke up this morning without an alarm which is always nice.  Then had a leisurely breakfast before heading over to core and our arousal session.  Now we are heading out to watch some rugby and eat lunch before more waiting begins.  Everyone seems pretty light hearted and ready to go, so I am excited for the outcome of this game today.  We are the underdogs and have nothing to lose, so we might as well have fun with it!