Sunday, February 28, 2010

Davidson Sports Blog Episode 2

By Josh Zipin

What’s good Davidson family? I haven’t checked in for about two or three weeks, but they’ve been packed with travelling, some “futbol,” new cultural experiences and of course a little school here and there. The last two weekends have been my first two weekends travelling outside of Barcelona and they have both been fantastic. Last weekend I went to Andorra with four other friends and skied in the Pyrenees, and as I write this, I’m finishing up a trip to Bilbao in Basque Country, the North of Spain.

The weekend in Andorra was definitely the best skiing experience I’ve ever had. Four of my friends from Barcelona and I took a bus from Sants Estacio to Andorra, one of the smallest nations in the world, sandwiched between Spain and France. We rented a small apartment for the weekend and we had an amazing view of the Andorran valley in between some enormous mountains.

Unlike ski resorts I’ve been to previously, skiing in the Pyrenees means skiing multiple mountains and sometimes deviating from the obvious slope. To quote Robert Frost (wutup Mo), “I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference”. The slopes, especially for very advanced skiers and snowboarders, were more of a suggestion or push in the right direction (towards the bottom). We blazed our own path to the bottom a couple of times and those were the most exciting runs - weaving between trees, slow skiers, and a few moguls. The snow was actual powder instead of human-produced, and made for really smooth skiing.

Euskadi, or Basque Country, was a great trip this weekend too. We started in San Sebastian, and learned about the local cuisine there, called Pintxos (pronounced “peent-chose”). They are little one or two bite dishes, usually put on top of a thin slice of bread. We went to a local cooking school and learned how a few were made, and then we actually got to eat some. It reminded me of a special day in Commons where you walk around and get lots of little things on your plate to try.

We also visited the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. The architecture was amazing and some of the exhibits inside were unbelievable with names like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Jackson Pollock popping up more than once. I learned a little bit of Basque, the historically-forbidden language they speak there. It was really interesting to see locals’ reactions when we said something to them in Basque. They were so much more excited than when we used Spanish.

As for what’s going on in Barcelona, I’ve just started doing yoga classes at my local gym—in Spanish. It’s a bit of challenge, both physically and linguistically. I have to sometimes stop and look around to see what pose we’re doing to make sure I’m not the only one looking awkward. I also recently toured Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s stadium) and the 1992 Olympic museum and stadium. I also went to a flamenco show with one of my host brothers which was pretty different from any dancing I’d seen.

I’ve also started playing futbol with a new group of guys. It’s a very interesting group of players, with some former semi-pro guys, some scrubs, and a host of geographic diversity. Sometimes I’m not sure what language to speak on the field because there are guys from Ireland, Scottland, England, Ivory Coast, Germany, Sweden, and of course Spain. In addition to my Spanish class, I’m learning Catalan, the local language spoken by natives of Barcelona and Catalunya, so sometimes I speak to the Spanish guys using that.

As for the immediate future, I have a midterm on Thursday next week, and then immediately I fly to Paris for the weekend. The weekend after that I’m heading to Costa Brava. Should be a good time. Hasta luego!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Senior Day 4.0

By: Lauren Biggers
Davidson vs. UNCG

A couple hours before tipoff of the Wildcats' 60-56 win over UNC Greensboro Wednesday night at Belk Arena, I updated my twitter (which i still think a strange exercise, even stranger when used by media outlets as a source) to reflect senior night for WILL, Steve, Dan and the WL, minus Steven. Within seconds, responses from former men's basketball SID Joey Beeler and the BIG CAT pour in. Seems like just months ago we were doing this for MAX, Civi and Andrew and not at all like years ago when Beeler was 'that guy hugging Stephen Curry on TV' everywhere we went.

But it is senior night for the Four: Will Archambault, Stephen Rossiter, Dan Nelms and Bryant Barr, with the one conspicuously missing and always and forever a part of this class: Stephen Curry. The four of us started this journey together (super senior ROSS-I-TER had a head start), and I know a lot of you do, but I do not know Davidson basketball without them.

As I watched Will, Dan, Steve and Bryant, escorted by their parents and photographed by their loved ones (and fiances!), take center stage to meet their head coach, I found myself reflecting on the last four years. I can't really remember these four as freshmen. What I remember most about that first season is that skinny kid from Charlotte causing a buzz and really annoying Gary Williams in the NCAA tournament. I remember watching that game with colleagues and student-athletes alike in the volleyball team room and how much fun that was.

The year after, I'll always remember. That weekend in Detroit forever occupies a special place in my memory bank. The pictures are truly worth a thousand words.

Last year was different with the pressure to succeed almost tangible at times. Learning to bear it and redefine it. Wanting so badly to repeat the greatness while the decision weighed on everyone.

And this
season hasn't played out the way we would have written it if we could.One of the first blogs I wrote this season was that after Stephen things would be OK. We knew we'd miss him, but not this much.

So as I sat and watched the game, I wanted to win so these Four, who have given Davidson so much to be proud of, could take their curtain call and remember the fun times fondly. I hope they all hugged the youngest McKillop afterwards for making that possible.

And years from now, when I think back on this senior class, and when I watch them play in their final SoCon championship in a few weeks and receive their diplomas a few months later (should I get a B.A. or a B.S.?), it won't ultimately be the basketball that I'll remember. It'll be the reasons I am able to say yes, this really is that special of a place, to the so many people that have asked me over the years since the run of 2008. The notes on my desk when I'm "late" for work. The heys from the hallways. The post-game high fives. The pranks. The SID lunches. Dart games and photo shoots. SIDIOTY applications. The graduation announcements. The wedding invitations.

I have watched over the years as these four have transformed from shy freshmen into team captains and homecoming kings and ambassadors for the game and the kind of people that leverage their influence to raise thousands of dollars for malaria in Africa.

In a few weeks, I cannot wait to watch the other, the missing one who has grown exponentially from the skinny kid no one wanted to the All-American prankster to the one just getting started on what I'm sure will be a wondeful rollercoaster of a journey. Even if his diploma doesn't say it (yet!!), he'll always be a part of this team, and I promise you he watched and cheered. March 6,
I'll be one of many in a Davidson 30 jersey cheering wildly for him.

Leaving the post-game celebration at our local Brickhouse and popping into the senior celebration to say goodnight, the WL asks, "Have you met my parents?" That's what I'll remember.

Just my way of saying, Thanks guys. Make us proud the rest of the way, in basketball and in life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

96 Degrees in The Shade: Pura Vida en Costa Rica

By Yannick Pilgrim

My name is Yannick Pilgrim. I am a third year English major from Trinidad and Tobago and a member of the Davidson Men’s Soccer team. I am currently spending my spring semester in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. I chose this location because the size of the town seemed ideal for meeting and interacting with locals. The town is about ten miles long and no house is further than a three minute walk from the ocean. Despite being one of the poorest provinces in Costa Rica, the people of Puntarenas are very welcoming, and after only three weeks, I have become well acquainted with many of the locals. Coming from a small island in the Caribbean, their lifestyle was a bit similar to what I was used to back at home in Trinidad.

I am really focusing on improving my Spanish while I am here. I am currently taking four Spanish courses which include composition courses as well as a conversation course. I am also enrolled in a Latin American Cultures Class, a field studies class. However, my favorite class has to be my dance class. I figured that while I’m here I might as well immerse myself as deep as I can into the Latin American culture. Besides, it is a nice workout as well.

When I first met my host family, I felt a genuine connection to them. My host mom is a 32-year-old psychologist and my host dad is a 30-year-old elementary school teacher by day and a DJ by night. I have two host brothers aged six and three. The set up of my host family was perfect for me because their family structure mirrored that of my actual family back at home. At times when I see them interacting with each other it is like looking at and old photograph of my own family.

What made my living arrangements even better was the fact that my host Dad was an avid football fan. When I told him that I play soccer in college the expression on his face was that of a man who had just won the lottery. Every afternoon he takes me to the beach to find “un mejengon” (a pickup game). The guys I kick around with are maybe two or three years older than me. Most are good enough to play professionally, but each has their reasons for not making the most of their sporting potential. Some say that they have families to take care of, while others say that they just want to be ‘”fiesteros” (party boys). This made me realize that being a professional requires a truly different lifestyle and having skill is only half the battle.

My host dad also took me to see the local club team play these past two Sundays. This team, Puntarenas F.C. was the runner up in the Costa Rican Championship last year. The team resembles Arsenal F.C. in England because it is a young team with explosive attacking abilities. After watching two games I was attracted to their style of play, which is fast paced and very characteristic of Central and South American futbol. They play in pretty decent stadium located in the center of town. It seats about 5000 people. The fans here are passionately crazy about their team and turn the Puntarenas stadium into hell for the referees and opposing team players. After the Tiburones 1-0 defeat this past Sunday to the reigning champs, Liberia, the referees were bombarded with rocks and had to be escorted by the police out of the stadium.

All in all, it has been a great time here so far in Costa Rica. It’s been filled with interesting soccer experiences and great adventures. I’ll keep you posted.

Pura Vida.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Studying Abroad in Barcelona

By Josh Zipin

Whatsup Cats! My name is Josh Zipin and I’m a junior on the men’s soccer team at Davidson. I’m currently lucky enough to be studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain and I’m having a great time. I’m here studying through a program called IES Abroad, and I’m taking classes right in the heart of Barcelona at Plaza (pronounced Plah-Tha) Catalunya.

I’m living with a host family in a neighborhood called Gracia. One of my Davidson classmates, Mike Foglia, actually stayed with them last semester, pure coincidence. The host family is amazing, with one mom, and two sons, ages 19 and 23. I’m right in the middle so I get to hang out with both of them. She cooks for us every night, but I don’t think it’s necessarily Coach Spear approved, with a lot of fried food served and a noticeable lack of green vegetables.

When I was choosing where I wanted to study abroad, I knew I wanted to use the Spanish I’d already learned at Davidson and go to a Spanish-speaking country. Being a soccer player, naturally, I wanted to go somewhere with a great soccer culture as well. Barcelona has fit the description to a tee and I’ve already improved my Spanish immensely and experienced what it means to be a “futbol” (never say soccer!) fan in Barcelona.

If you live in Barcelona, you are an FC Barcelona fan. There is no wiggle room, and very few exceptions. The team has an immense worldwide following, but here in Catalunya, it borders on obsessive. During games, you can find most people at a bar or café with eyes glued to the screen, living and dying with every pass and shot.

This connection with the team goes deeper than just being a fan of the local side. For years, Catalunya has lobbied for its independence from Spain. FC Barcelona, as the team of Catalunya, has been an example of how the people feel. To be a fan of Barcelona is to be a patriot for Catalunya in a way. FC Barcelona’s motto is “Mes que un club,” or More than a club (in Catalan, the local language here).  The club acknowledges that their on-field product goes deeper than just entertainment and extends into the political realm.

I have to say, that living here has almost forced me into becoming an FC Barcelona fan. Being neutral is not an option and viewed with the same disdain as cheering for Barca’s opponents. I went and saw Barca play Getafe at Camp Nou, Barca’s home stadium, and a kind of mecca for fans. The game was wild, with Lionel Messi, the world’s best player, scoring and assisting on Barcelona’s goals, and two red cards for Barcelona. Tonight they play Athletico Madrid, and they are going to have to use one of their young players from the second team to fill in for the regulars that are out due to suspension. It should be pretty exciting.

Okay, well that’s all I got for now. Hope everyone is doing well in D-town and I’ll blog again soon. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rolling Along

By: Lauren Biggers
Davidson vs. Georgia Southern

It's been a while since I've written, and while I was away, it seems the 'Cats have put together a nice little four-game winning streak. Maybe I shouldn't write.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) I don't have a lot of thoughts to share about last night's 84-74 win over Georgia Southern. Mostly, I'm just glad it's over.

Trying to break a full-court press for 40 minutes isn't exactly what I would qualify as good entertainment, though you can't fault the Eagles for trying. It nearly worked in Statesboro, and according to the scoreboard, it seemed to be working last night.

Only, it didn't really feel that way. It felt like Davidson was squarely in control, despite what the numbers said. With JP KOOLman (or another moniker I heard floating around last night, but I don't wanna embarrass anyone...) pouring in 17 first-half career points, Davidson turned a three-point deficit into a 10-point lead with 13 unanswered points and rolled (in slow motion?) to its fourth straight SoCon win.

Four Davidson players finished in double figures and one senior finished just one point shy of the 1,000 career point mark and all the 'Kicks from 'Cats' t-shirts sold. It was a good night at Belk Arena.

(And a huge thanks to all who bought a t-shirt to support Kicks From 'Cats: Phase II. With your continued support, The Lagos Project will give kids from Andrew and Frank's home country their own chance to succeed. You can still help.)

With all but the final margin decided, a very entertaining Georgia Southern head coach acknowledges the relentless "Sit Down CAR-L" chants from a highly entertaining D-block with a wave of the hand. Then much to everyone's delight, he sits. But only for a second. After all, there's a press to break.

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