Monday, July 28, 2008

The Journey Begins

By: Dick Cooke


onday, July 28

In 2006, I traveled with the USA Baseball Professional National team to Havana, Cuba, for an Olympic qualifying tournament. Top two teams qualified. We won the tourney to qualify for Beijing and the long wait for the 2008 Games began. These Olympics seemed light years away then, and now I sit in San Jose, Calif., just a mere days away from our trip to China and the pursuit of a gold medal.

7:35 a.m. - Depart Charlotte

10:45 a.m. (PST) - Arrive San Francisco where I am met by a USOC rep. We're joined by a track and field coach from LSU, and we drive 40 minutes south to San Jose State Univ. where every Olympic athlete coach and staff member will pass on their way to Beijing.

12:45 p.m. - Check into our dorm rooms and meet players and staff in the lobby.

1:45 p.m. - Over to the processing center where we are given a grocery cart and a clipboard. We navigate a huge room with boxes and boxes of apparel that the coaches and athletes receive. Volunteers peer at our clipboard, toss the appropriate items into the cart and at the end of the line it is all packed into a big piece of rolling USA luggage. I need to implement this system at home.

5:00 p.m. - Orientation. Information about proper attire, drug testing, handling the media and general Olympic protocol. We watch two Olympic videos to get everyone jacked, and then it's off to dinner.

7:30 p.m. - Physicals for coaches and players.

We're all exhausted as we've arrived from all over the country. Our first practice is tomorrow and the coaches are anxious to see what we have.

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