Saturday, March 20, 2010

Episode Four: The 100 Free Prelim Swim

By Lauren Biggers
Prelims, 100 Free

One final blog from the NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships. You'll hafta forgive me for not being lengthy (or maybe you'll be grateful?), but I've gotta be up at 4 a.m. to leave for the airport, which is only four hours from now, so I need to wrap things up here pretty quickly, so as my college roommate used to say after a near all-night of studying, I can sleep fast.

We've seen plenty of fast here in Indiana, with Lindsey turning in two personal and Davidson-best times in three swims. There were hopes of finaling in an event, but for Lindsey to finish 30th in the 50 free and 28th in the 100 free (in the whole country!) is really really awesome. And to set a new personal best in the 200 free, a race she doesn't love swimming, is pretty cool too. There was no disappointment amongst this crowd.

After her morning swim, we grabbed lunch at Chipotle (I'm pretty sure Lindsey's been thinking about Mexican food ever since we mistakenly thought we had discovered an On The Border Tuesday night) with Lindsey's parents and sister and headed back to the hotel for an afternoon of napping/studying/basketball watching.

We went back over to the finals, which came down to the final relay in exciting fashion. Florida finished as they needed to in third in the final 4x100 relay to win the 2010 NCAA Championship, and the Gators were chomping to "We Are The Champions." Seriously, great song.

Below, you'll see the video of Lindsey's final swim and one more interivew, where she discusses her race and her overall experience.

Thanks for following along on our journey. I've had a great time, and I hope that I have given you a little window into what it's like for a student-athlete to compete on the highest level. Looking forward to seeing what next year holds for Lindsey and Davidson swimming (John already wants a 160-page media guide like Auburn. So there goes my July.)

Swim Number Three Results: 100 Free

By: Lauren Biggers

Once things start rolling, they just roll. Lindsey won her heat in a personal and Davidson-best time of 49.55. Swimming in heat four with five left to go, it was unclear how it would hold up.

But there are a lot of fast swimmers here, and Lindsey failed to final on the final day. Auburn's Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace won the prelim out of the seventh heat with a time of 47.74, one of two swimmers to go under 48.

Check back later... I'll post complete results when available, and video of Lindsey's final swim and a final interview on her championship experience.

Suit Em Up: Third and Final Day

By: Lauren Biggers

Because of some (not-so) routine wear and tear, my cell phone battery lasts only one day. So if I forget to plug it in at the end of the day, it dies in the middle of the night. I forgot to plug it in last night, which as tired as I am feeling today, could have been tragic. But we have a pretty good relationship, so my 7 a.m. alarm went off, I snoozed it and it died. Thanks, buddy.

I don't know exactly what that means, but I'm taking it to believe the gods are on our side. The coffee fairy (sorry, John) came with the good stuff again, and Lindsey and Jessica joined us in the lobby, and we were off for the final morning of competition at the NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships. Today's competition is the 100 free, an event that Lindsey and John have been very excited about all week.

Lindsey will swim out of heat four in lane three. With nine heats and only 16 spots, making the final will be a challenge, but that's what we are here for.

With Oasis' Champagne Supernova setting the tone, the lanes are full of swimmers getting ready to go. As far as team standings go, through 14 events, Stanford is leading the race followed by Georgia, Arizona and California.

And for all you swimming junkies out there (and I know you are out there), we met Pablo Morales yesterday on our way out the pool. He won gold medals at the 1984 and 1992 games, and I'm told he's a really big deal (per John, naturally).

John got up the courage to speak to Pablo, now coaching for Nebraska, yesterday a.m. so on the way out of the pool, he passed Jessica and I waiting for John. He musta noticed our Davidson gear, because he asked Jessica if she was the 100 sprinter from Davidson. Jessica did not stand in for Lindsey, so Pablo turned to me. Is it you? Nope, sorry she stayed at the hotel tonight. Oh, well tell her I said good luck. I think this means good things, too.

Will be twittering live updates all morning @DavidsonWildcat, and updating here with results asap. So ya'll come back now. Also, check out the video of yesterday's 200 below.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Day That Was

By Mark Brumbaugh - 3/19/2010 - 3:06 p.m. Central

Wrapping Up

By Mark Brumbaugh
If I had to sum up the experience in one word, “bittersweet” might be the best descriptor. However, it implies that there was an equal helping of bitterness and sweetness, which I would disagree with.

Let’s get the bitterness out of the way first. From the start, Alex has made it clear that he wants to be an All-American and that he expects to win. He was disappointed that he did not do better. Davidson students, staff, alumni and fans all wanted to see him accomplish his goals, but it turned out that it was not meant to be this week. But that’s sports, and for that matter, life. If winning was easy, it wouldn’t be so sweet.

In a tournament with 330 participants and 10 winners, 320 were destined to go home thinking about what they could have done better. That’s just the way it is.

Putting things in perspective though, Alex did a lot more winning than losing this year, so he has no reason to hang his head. He earned the opportunity to compete against the best in the nation, an honor that very few college athletes get to experience. His season record of 17-6 was among the best ever at Davidson, and as we’ve said a lot here, it had been awhile since the wrestling program had seen such success. He’s yet another example of a Davidson student-athlete proving that you can have it all – a challenging academic experience, a phenomenal community, and the opportunity to compete at the highest levels of collegiate athletics (is it just me or does it seem like we’ve been having a lot of these lately?)

Alex eventually he will realize he is richer for the experience. He now knows what it is like to be competing with the eyes of 15,613 passionate wrestling fans upon him in such a high-charged atmosphere. He now knows what he needs to work on in order to earn a win here. He can now be a tremendous leader by example for his teammates.

Essentially, he now has a season of sweetness to boost his confidence and a touch of bitterness that will remind him not to get complacent.

Alex Radsky proved that he is a champion, and the Davidson community couldn’t be prouder for all that he has accomplished as a student-athlete.

That, I would say is nothing but sweet. I’m looking forward to doing this all again next year in Philly.

We’re still here in Omaha so check back for updates.

Episode Three: The 200 Free Prelim Swim

By: Lauren Biggers

If I'm being honest, I'm starting to lose track of my days just a little this week. In athletics, we don't really operate on a traditional work week schedule anyways, and I have very little understanding of what a "typical" American weekend must feel like, but when you're on the road for an extended period of time with a team, things just start to blur together.

After this morning's prelim session, our group sort of went its separate ways. Jessica went to lunch with a friend in town, Lindsey went to eat with her family, and John and I were successful in locating a place to eat with tvs to catch some of the NCAA men's basketball tourney.

Post lunch we all went our separate ways, which for me meant checking in with work and beginning work on Episode Three of our video diary. And of course, a little more basketball (WOFFORD! so close. And Jim Nantz cannot remember how to say Stephen Curry correctly any longer.)

A few hours later, Jessica, John and I headed back over to catch the finals session. The swimming pair watched from the pool deck, while I took my seat on press row (media snob remember) to watch the finals and the live stats of Davidson baseball at Furman simultaneously. Once the finals wrapped, which included a new NCAA record in the 100 breast, we swung by the hotel to pick up Lindsey and hopped over to Noodles and Co. for dinner.

After a quick interview with Lindsey on this morning's 200 free prelim, we parted ways til the morning, and I made my way to the hotel restaurant because I needed the social interaction to pull me through the work I needed to finish before the evening was over. While completing Episode three and writing up the
Davidson baseball's comeback win over Furman in the opening game of the series, I met a group of Tennessee swimming parents who wanted to know what school I swam for.

No, I'm the SID for Davidson.

Davidson, Davidson... Carolina? A parent offers.

Yeah, you might have heard of Stephen (or Stef-on, if you're Jim Nantz circa 2010) Curry?


I tell them all about how much I have enjoyed the atmosphere this week, especially my seats next to the Georgia fan section. They do not seem amused.

A little while later, go to bed, they tell me.

I would love to, I respond. But you all take for granted when you go home and read those stories on Somewhere, there's an SID sitting in a hotel restaurant writing a story.

And tonight, that SID is me.

Swim Number Two Results: 200 Free

By: Lauren Biggers

Lindsey finished second in her heat with a new personal best and Davidson record time of 1:48.76. The plan was to swim aggressively and go out fast, to prepare for tomorrow's 100, one of her strongest events. Lindsey burned her heat on the first 100, finishing with a 51.71 split. I haven't talked to either yet, but I gotta assume they are pretty pleased with that swim. @J_young's twitter certainly suggests as much. Overall, Lindsey finished 55th in the event.

Check the website for complete preliminary results, which I'll post when available, and check back later for video of the morning's swim. Lindsey's got one more shot to final, swimming the 100 free prelim tomorrow morning.

Exploring Russia- Day 18

By: Erin Lycan
The team concluded the 2010 Kuban Tournament on Tuesday, March 16th, by watching the Final match, played between the national teams of China and Russia. Because our team (both coaches and players) got to know the Chinese, we were pulling for them to beat the host team. China did indeed prevail, beating the Russians 2-0.

Following the match, the tournament awards were presented and we were very proud that our very own Jenna Gibney was awarded the tournament’s “Best Midfielder” award. We knew we had a tough group in the tournament and this was confirmed when 3 of the 6 awards were awarded to teams in our group (Best Midfielder: Region 1, Best Defender: Ukraine National Team, Best Goalkeeper: Krasnodar Regional Team).

Following the awards ceremony, all of the teams returned to the hotel where the coaches attended a banquet for the coaches and members of the Russian Football Federation, and the players attended the final night of presentations by the various teams.

During the coaches’ banquet, the coaches were able to interact with the coaching staffs of the other teams and we learned some very interesting things including:

*The Krasnodar Regional Team we had played twice (tied 2-2 and lost 0-3) was actually a professional team and had several players over the age of 24

*In Uzbekistan, they have only 100 registered female soccer players

*In Estonia, they have only 600 registered female soccer players

The following statement was printed in the tournament program and expresses the sentiments from the coaching staff, that are representative of our entire group:

On behalf of Region 1 ODP, US Youth Soccer, and the United States Soccer Federation, we are honored to have earned an invitation to this very special tournament. We would like to thank the Football Union of Russia and all of those who played a part in organizing this important event. The hospitality and accommodations that were provided to us were first-class and this event, both on and off the field, has been a life changing experience for all who are a part of our travel party. We were honored to meet such great people and learn about so many different cultures from around the world. The tournament itself is provided a high standard of play that has helped our players grow and we hope to be considered when planning this event for years to come.

To all of our followers throughout this event, we appreciate all of your help and support – we couldn’t have done it without you!

Suit Em Up: Day Two

By: Lauren Biggers

Good Morning blogosphere. John brought coffee again this a.m. (!), and we're back at the pool for day two of the action at the NCAA Division I Swimming & Diving Championships. Back in my front row media spot, which in typical SID fashion, I have claimed for the week. It's a pretty good location, Georgia fans not withstanding, on the aisle side directly above lane one on the side of the pool opposite the starting blocks. I think I shall keep it.

Lindsey's swimming the 200 freestyle today, her self-proclaimed least favorite of her three events on her program this week.
If you read the Q & A I did with Lindsey before the championships, you learned that, like any good sprinter, she prefers the shorter 50 and 100s to the 200. But she and John have been discussing strategy since the prelims wrapped up yesterday and she's ready to do it again. Excited for her 100 tomorrow, too.

The 200 free will be the fourth event of the day, and Lindsey is in the third lane of the first heat along with Katie Radloff of William & Mary, a regular-season opponent. The 200 medley relay kicks off the day, followed by the 400 IM and 100 fly. After the 200 free, the 100 breast and 100 backstroke wrap up the morning session.

Check back later for updates on Lindsey's finish and later in the day for Episode Three of our video diary. I'll be twittering throughout the morning as well, sometimes useful information, like lanes and times, sometimes entertaining (IMO) and fun facts. Like how Hootie and the Blowfish's "I Only Want To Be With You" will always be an awesome song.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clair Prevails 4-1

By Mark Brumbaugh - 3/18/2010 - 8:55 p.m. Central

Sean Clair of Eastern Michigan defeated Alex via a 4-1 decision.  Complete story to follow.

Starting in a minute

By Mark Brumbaugh


On Deck

By Mark Brumbaugh - 3/18/2010 - 8:40 p.m. Central
Alex is on deck! The match before has two periods to go.


By Mark Brumbaugh
I'm thinking it will be more like 9:00 p.m. CT/10:00 p.m. ET. We're still in the 184 and 197 matches, so we need to get through those, heavyweight, and then 125 pound wrestlebacks before Alex.

Stay tuned!


By Mark Brumbaugh

My bad. Turns out they don't go in chronological order on the brackets. They are doing all of the Championship brackets before the wrestlebacks, so Alex probably won't go until 9:30 central / 10:30 eastern.

Back in Action

By Mark Brumbaugh
SID Row - We're back!  Alex should wrestle within the next half-hour.

In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Bobby P:

Back at the Hotel

By Mark Brumbaugh
Doubletree, Omaha, Neb. - We're back at the hotel resting up for Session II tonight.

Some random thoughts . . .

-The atmosphere is INCREDIBLE in the arena. With eight matches going on, there are just waves of fans cheering.The arena is packed  Pretty cool when you have multiple sections yelling twoooooo!

-The rivalries are pretty intense, as well. A big cheer went up when Oklahoma State got deducted a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.

-It's good to see some familiar faces. Plenty of SoCon people around and a couple of the officials who are regulars at Davidson matches.

-For those reading my tweets or trying to follow the action online at, you may have noticed there was quite a delay before Alex went. There was a protest of a call during the prior match that held up the action.

Stay tuned! I'll put together a video of today soon. Things get back underway at 6:30 p.m. central/7:30 eastern.

Go 'Cat

Alex Drops Opener

By Mark Brumbaugh
Alex got pinned in 3:38 in his first match. He'll face Sean Clair of Eastern Michigan in the wrestlebacks which start tonight at 6:30 central/7:30 eastern.

Alex to go soon

By Mark Brumbaugh
SID Seating, Qwest Center, Omaha, Neb. - Alex about to start!

Alex Weighs In

By Mark Brumbaugh
SID Seating, Qwest Center, Omaha, Neb. - Alex successfully weighed in and the mats are filling up with wrestlers warming up.

He and Joe Privitere are jogging now to start their pre-match warm-up.

Less than an hour away from the start!

Feel free to send me an email at with any questions or comments.

Go 'Cats!

Episode Two: The 50 Free Prelim Swim

By: Lauren Biggers

Lindsey finished the 50 free ranked 30th in the country, which didn’t final but is still pretty awesome. More than awesome. It's really freaking awesome. I don’t know if Lindsey or John really knew what to expect, but I think they both came out of the day pretty pleased. Not content, but pleased.

After the prelims finished up, we caravanned to Chili’s, which in my humble opinion is always a home run. I would use a swimming metaphor, but I can’t think of parallel. A splash? Since it was around 2 in the afternoon, we did not have much competition for 10-person tables, a nice benefit to a late lunch, as Lindsey’s parents, sister and grandparents joined John, Jessica and I for bottomless chips and salsa, etc. etc.

Post lunch, Lindsey and co. made a Target run (how did I not end up in that car?! Probably for the best, says my bank account) and John and I hit up RadioShack for an adapter for the radio (so we don’t have to listen to Indiana radio anymore, even though he doesn’t have any Lady Gaga on his iphone) and (more!) Starbucks.

We spent the next few hours watching basketball (seriously?!) and making the second episode of our video diary. John went to take a nap and Lindsey and Jessica were (supposed to be) studying. The four of us met back up and went over to watch the evening finals.

This is easily the largest and fastest swim meet I’ve been to, and I really like my front row media seat. John, Lindsey and Jessica watch from the pool deck with the other swimmer people, but I need to be able to access my e-mail, twitter and Facebook and well, I think we already established I don’t have a smart phone. I am also a media seating snob it would seem.

And I had to finish Episode Two of our video diary, which includes footage of Lindsey’s 50 free race and a post-swim interview. I think I could get into this iMovie stuff. Watching basketball in the hotel restaurant and working on my “film,” a pair of Stanford swimming parents was wowed by my movie making skills. I’m sure they haven’t seen a lot of people make movies, though.

Once finals wrapped up, the four of us head back towards the hotel with a quick pit stop at the Applebee’s located a convenient stones throw away. Yes, Lindsey’s interview is filmed in an Applebee’s booth. And no, boss, James Cameron probably won’t make this decision. My apologies. We work with what we got.

Signing off for the day. Lindsey kicks off competition in the 200 free tomorrow morning in the 11 a.m. prelims. Follow along on twitter at @DavidsonWildcat for the most up-to-date updates and check back here later for some more of my witty banter. And as always, thanks for reading.

Championship Morning

By Mark Brumbaugh
SID Seating, Qwest Center, Omaha, Neb. - Good morning Wildcats fans!

Bobby, Joe, Janah, Alex, and yours truly piled into our minivan at 7:45 a.m. this morning to make the short trip to the Qwest Center for today's tournament. By the looks of the participant parking lot, you'd be hard pressed to rent a minivan in the Omaha area, as I think they have been all signed out for the week.

Presently, I am sitting in my seat on SID row. There are two columns of four mats, so I am about five feet away from Mat 1. I certainly hope Alex is wrestling on Mats 1-4, because the others are at the opposite end of the arena and we'll be difficult to see. It looks like the seating assignments we're done alphabetically by school, so I am in between Cornell and Edinboro. The likes of Michigan and Michigan State are to my right behind me in what appears to be obstructed view seating with the Mat 1 scoring tower directly in front of them.

The capacity is 15,000 here, so it'll be pretty cool when it fills up.

All is calm now, except for my stomach. I'm dying for the media hospitality breakfast (opens at 9 a.m.) In the meantime, feel free to send me an email at with any questions or comments.

Go 'Cats!

Swim Number One Results: 50 Free

By: Lauren Biggers

Lindsey tied for 30th in the prelims of the 50 free with a time of 22.75. The winning time was Georgia's Anne-Marie Botek with a swim of 22.16. Will post complete details later.

The top 16 in the event advance to the evening session, so Lindsey fails to make her first cut. We'll be back in the morning for the 200 free prelims, and a second chance to final.

More details later. And probably another video. If you're lucky.

Suit Em Up

By: Lauren Biggers

The day started off with a text message from John that there was Starbucks waiting in the room next door. A girl could get used to this. When I went to make the collection, Lindsey and Jessica, who joined the party last night, were waiting for the elevator on their way down to the hotel's breakfast buffet. I finished up upstairs and joined the swimming trio for a quick bite to eat.

The morning-of-the-meet mood was easy and the coffee was flowing freely. Lindsey's dad and sister made an appearance and there was some discussion of the heat sheet, which John fetched this a.m. along with the Starbucks. After the girls grabbed their stuff from the room, we piled in the Rav4 and made the five-minute drive to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center, our home away from the hotel for the next few days.

Lindsey, John and I came over for a practice session yesterday, but the energy at the facility is completely different today. There are swimmers, coaches, team personnel, parents everywhere. I grab a (PRIME-TIME) seat on press row above the competition lanes and set up shop. While Lindsey is warming up and John is alternately pacing and chatting with coaching buddies,
I am busy making an iMovie of our first two days in Indiana. Check it out on the Davidson Wildcats YouTube channel.

Competition is underway now, with the 200 freestyle relays complete. Lindsey's event is the fourth of the day, after the 500 freestyle and the 200 IM. We expect her to be on around 12:30 p.m.

Like Mark over at the NCAA Wrestling Championships (, I'm available by e-mail ( for questions or comments all afternoon. I'll be here most of the morning, bookmarked by the Georgia and Tennessee parents, just taking it all in. Take a break from non-stop basketball and check back for updates later.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

From the Media Workroom

By Mark Brumbaugh 
OMAHA - Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone. I am writing this from the media workroom the NCAA has done an excellent job setting up. Looks like we are curtained off on the convention center floor.

I hoped to write more yesterday as we traveled from Charlotte to Dallas to Omaha, but my brain did not have enough energy to produce complete and coherent sentences by the time I could connect to the Internet and charge the computer back up.

So here we go.

Who are the characters you are reading about here? The travel party includes Alex Radsky (duh!), head coach Bob Patnesky, assistant coach Joe Privitere, trainer Janah Fletcher and yours truly.

To introduce myself, I am Mark Brumbaugh and I am the wrestling contact in Davidson’s sports information department. As you probably have figured out, I am the one doing the reporting on wrestling for after joining the staff this past fall.

Luckily our travels were pretty uneventful. Assistant coach Joe Privitere and I both had our own row on the flight to Charlotte. Trainer Janah Fletcher had a window seat and a seat in between, while poor Alex got stuck in the middle of two people. Our flight to Omaha was only slightly delayed as the plane we were scheduled to be on had some mechanical issues. The airline pulled out another plane and after a "quick maintenance check" (please say "complete and thorough maintenance check" in the future) and we were on our way.

I got an aisle seat while Bobby P (window) and Alex (middle, again) were right behind me. Their aisle seat was occupied by the self-proclaimed “biggest wrestling fan in Texas,” so they had a great conversation for the duration of the flight. I snagged a video interview with them that we’ll post to YouTube shortly.

We then picked up our minivan and made our way to our hotel in downtown Omaha.

Today we slept in and Alex got a quick workout in on the mats. Again It’s a pretty impressive facility. So we’ll keep you posted.

Gone Swimming-NCAA Division I Women's Swimming & Diving Championships

By: Lauren Biggers

Yesterday, I set off for Lafayette, Ind., the site of the 2010 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships with Davidson head coach
John Young and junior swimmer Lindsey Martin. Over the next several days, my co-worker Mark Brumbaugh and I will be dual-bloggging our parallel experiences at the NCAA Wrestling and Swimming Championships. (I expect I’ll be winning, but I’m a little biased). I will be your tour guide as Lindsey becomes the very first Davidson swimmer ever to compete at the NCAA championships. All aboard...

After an assist from assistant swimming coach Kylie Gamelier, John, Lindsey and I boarded the plane to Indiana by way of Atlanta (seriously, it’s like a sick joke South, and I’m over it). Even though I got in line behind the couple with two babies, I still beat the pair through security. The flight itself was fairly uneventful, but for my US Weekly and the endless enjoyment I get from remembering the Jerry Seinfeld standup routine about seatbelts every time I fly. We were barely up in the air before we were landed in Atlanta, and a Perrier (not mine) and a Coke Zero (mine) later (for a steal at only $1.39 each), we were back on a plane. @J_young twittered all the details.

Trying to finish a baseball release on Andrew Barna being named the
SoCon Player of the Month (!!), I toyed with the idea of using my Verizon Card on the plane, but fearing a mammoth cell phone bill and the ensuing wrath of SID Marc Gignac, decided against it. The second flight had Parks and Rec on the in-flight cable AND peanuts. Major upgrade. Bonus points for remembering to bring my own headphones. Who’s an experienced traveler now? This girl.

After securing our silver Rav4 from the Budget, we made the hour-ish long drive from Indianapolis to Lafayette. Not knowing I couldn’t navigate myself out of a paper bag, John hands me his iphone (ha, smart phones. As if.) UM, we got a little lost, but Lindsey, the above-average navigator, quickly got us back on track. Good thing we brought her along, I said sarcastically.

Sure enough, we made it safely to Lafayette, and though the peanuts (two bags!) were good, we needed food. This proved a little more difficult than we hoped, as apparently a lot of restaurants in Lafayette close at 10 p.m., but IHOP never disappoints. I settled on an omelet and the swimming pair had pancakes, brought to us by probably the nicest waitress in the history of IHOPs. Seriously.

We checked into our hotel, which was one convenient exit down. Several other teams are staying in our hotel as well. At breakfast the next morning, I see Cal, Virginia, and Missouri, and in typical college athletics road trip style, the tables in the lobbies are full of athletes studying.

John and I take part in the continental breakfast, and he goes to get us checked in and I go to field e-mails from senior men's basketball player Bryant Barr about
Nothing but Nets (May 2! Check it out!). Around 1 p.m. Lindsey joins us and the three of us go grab a sandwich at a bagel shop by the Purdue campus before making our way to the Boilermaker Aquatic Center. The facility, as expected, is impressive with a two sets of lanes and a diving well. While John is at the coaches meeting, Lindsey gets in some laps. The pool, complete with an NCAA logo underwater and NCAA banners and those of competing schools around the spectator’s deck, is quiet with just one other swimmer in the water.

Once she finishes, Lindsey joins me at the media worktable overlooking the pool, where we are eventually joined by John. After a few hours of downtime at the hotel, it is time for dinner. Lindsey’s parents and sister have just arrived and we are meeting her grandparents at Olive Garden, our first strikeout last night. I love meeting the student-athletes' families, and this one is warm and welcoming, even allowing me to ride back with them to the hotel as John departs for the airport to pick up Lindsey’s teammate and roommate Jessica Delgehausen.

Competition begins tomorrow, with Lindsey kicking off her schedule with the 50 freestyle at the 11 a.m. prelims. Thanks for reading, and will check back afterwards.

A Video

By Mark Brumbaugh - 3/17/2010 - 9:10 p.m. Central

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


By Mark Brumbaugh - 3/16/2010 - 3:17 p.m.

Welcome Davidson fans! Not much to say here at the moment. I'll be departing for the airport shortly and will have more updates about Alex Radsky's trip to the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Estoy bien en Costa Rica

BYannick Pilgrim

Hola Amigos,

Estoy bien en Costa Rica. I have so much to tell since my last entry.

It is unbelievably cheap to travel around Costa Rica. They have a really efficient bus system that I take full advantage of on the weekends. I usually travel around in a small group with about two other girls, one from North Carolina and one from New Zealand. Our program only has about ten guys to the forty girls, so the men of the group usually have to do some bodyguard work. Our first major trip together was to a place called La Fortuna. This town has a very interesting history and is one of the most visited sites in Costa Rica.

It is especially known for the active Arenal Volcano that dangerously looms over the town. We took a tour of this volcano and this tour included a visit to nearby hot springs, stops at breathtaking waterfalls, and a night tour in search of snakes and other nocturnal creatures common in La Fortuna. Our tour guide (a great guy who took us to play a pick-up game of soccer against him and his brothers) also told us the story of Arenal Volcano and I must say it was a bit sad and disturbing. The volcano got the name ‘Arenal’ because this was the name of the town it destroyed when it erupted. In the 1960’s, the people from this pueblo were caught off guard when what they thought was just a mountain ended erupting, and scorching vapor swept through their homes killing many and injuring dozens. For me, this story is disturbing because according to the guide, despite the rumblings from the ‘mountain’ and many suggestions from the elders of the community that this mountain was an actual volcano, the authorities and the scientists assured the residents of Arenal that there was nothing to concerned about and it was simply a mountain. Now a lake covers the remains of this pueblo. The steeple from the church can still be seen protruding from beneath its watery grave.

Currently I am enrolled in a Latin American Field Studies class in which we have many field trips to different parts of the country. One thing for me that really stands out about Costa Rica is its natural beauty. A lot of the care that goes into taking care of the environment in Costa Rica stems from the Costa Rican’s reliance on nature’s products. They are a major exporter of pineapple and coffee. Even though they can never rival the quantity of coffee produced in places like Brazil and Colombia, the quality of Costa Rican coffee is in a class of its own. We visited the mountainous town of San Ramon where coffee and sugar cane dominate the hillsides, a true representation of the success of these industries in Costa Rica. Also with this class we had an excursion to a fishing community called Costa de Pajaros. The people of this town are very humble and have a remarkable relationship with the mangroves that border their community. Speaking with one of the fisherman it was clear that he understood and respected the laws regarding fishing and preservation of the mangroves. ‘We need these mangroves’ he told me, “Without them there is no fish and no fish means no food and money.”

Even though I spend a lot of time learning about Costa Rica I find some time to have fun here and there. It is out of respect for those of you who struggled with a cold winter that I do not mention my surfing trips, 90 degree weather, and trips to sandy secluded beaches. I mean I don’t want anyone to feel jealous or anything. With that said I must mention my highlight for the month of March. I was in San Jose this past weekend and stayed at a guest house for two nights. The family who runs the guesthouse was very “agradable” and showed extreme hospitality. On my last day there, I went to thank the lady of the house for everything she had done for us that weekend. She ended up trapping me in a conversation that turned out to have a pleasant surprise at the end. It turns out that her husband is the head coach of the Costa Rican National Team. She introduced me to him and I had the pleasure of chatting with him for a while. He is quite a remarkable man with loads of coaching experience, from being the Assistant Coach for Nigeria during the France 1998 World Cup to now being the head coach of La Seleccion de Costa Rica. He gave me a book he wrote and was kind enough to autograph it. It’s crazy how things work out over here, but stuff like this happens to me all the time in Costa Rica.

We’ll see what adventures lay ahead.

PuRa vIdA


Monday, March 15, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 14

By: Erin Lycan
Region I ODP – 5

Urals Regional Team - 3


Region 1 ODP finished the tournament on a high note, beating the Urals Regional Team by a score of 5-3. Region 1 took a 2-0 lead into the half from goals by Allison Yeager and Tori McCombs. The Urals Regional team tied the game at 2-2 in the second half with goals in the 53rd and 60th minutes, but Region 1 quickly regained the lead four minutes late in the 64th minute on a goal by Jane Wallis. Region 1 would extend their lead with goals by Jane Wallis and Katie Greer in the 64th and 65th minutes, and adding one additional goal in 77th minute by Sloan DePiero.

Region 1 held a major advantage in shots in the game, out-shooting the Urals Regional team by a 24-4 margin.


Region 1 finished the event with an overall record of 2-1-3. Throughout the tournament, Region 1 outscored their opponents by a 19-11 margin and out-shot their opponents by a 95-27 margin.

Region 1 had 12 different goals scorers from their 16-player-roster and had 10 different players record assists.

Leading Region 1 with points was Allison Yeager with 6 (2 goals and 2 assists), followed by Jennifer Gibbons, Sloan DePiero, and Hayley Miller who all had 5 (2 goals and one assist) each. Tori Leigh recorded 4 points (1 goal and 2 assists) as did Tori McCombs (2 goals ).

In goal, Lyndse Hokanson surrended 9 goals in her 305 minutes of play and Katelyn Koslosky allowed 2 in her 175 minutes of play.


The Estonian National Team, who our team has really connected with during this event, came to support us during our match this afternoon. Following the match, this evening the team elected to order pizza (which took forever to arrive) in place of the normal dinner at the hotel. While waiting, our team, with the Estonia National Team, traded jerseys and shirts, and spent time imitating and mocking each other and the members of each team’s coaching staff. We had a contest for best impressions and some of them came off quite well.  Once the pizza arrived, our team shared it with the Estonians, and after that, finished with a game of “Wah!”


On Tuesday, the team is hoping to go downtown Sochi again for some shopping. Following this, all participating teams will all watch the tournament final match, that pairs the U19 National Teams from China and Russia against each other. Following this match, the tournament awards ceremony will be held, followed by a dinner for the players.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 13

By: Erin Lycan
Today is my 27th birthday.  The girls helped me celebrate by making a huge birthday card and singing to me in the lobby before breakfast.  They were especially proud of their ingenuity with using their limited resources to get electrical tape and paper and markers to create a birthday card with a 3D effect.  They also let me cut to the front of the crepe line – I’m not sure I can explain how much of a sacrifice this was on their part but I will try…
At breakfast and dinner, there is a crepe lady available to make crepes on a hot plate.  As this is one of the few foods that the girls and the staff seem to be able to stomach on a daily basis, this is food we have twice a day.  The girls actually race to see who can get their first (one girl face planted on a mud puddle on the way and still managed to sprint to the front) and there is fierce territorialism to keep other teams from cutting in and just walking to the front of the line as they seem to have very little respect for normal lines.  So, I was quite honored to go straight to the front of the line.
The girls also figured out how to make my birthday special by taking some cake from the dessert table at dinner, taking a straw and some festive foil, lighting some paper and sticking in the straw as a “candle” and then having the whole dining hall sing happy birthday to me.  It was quite a treat and they’re a really fun group to be around.  

Region I ODP – 0

Krasnador Regional Team - 3


Region 1 ODP allowed two first half goals and could not find the back of the net to equalize, despite out-shooting the Krasnodar Regional Team 19-8 in the match.

This evening the team will learn its training time for Monday, as well as confirm its opponent for their last match on Tuesday.
We learned today that our final match will be played tomorrow, March 15th, at 3pm, against the Urals Regional Team from Russia. Notes for Monday are as follows:


The USA U17 Women’s National Team is currently in Costa Rica for the final phase of the World Cup qualifying process. The USA beat Haiti in its first match, 9-0, and the Cayman Islands 13-0, in their second match. They play Costa Rica Monday and with the win, will position themselves well for this summer’s U17 World Cup to be held in Trinidad & Tobago.


Finishing your early chances in a match changes the way the remainder of the game is played.


The next game that you play is always the most important. Never think that your last game is more important then your next game.


On Tuesday, March 16th, all teams will watch the final at 4pm that will be between China and Russia. Both teams won their semi-final matches, China 3-0 over Turkey and Russia 4-0 over Estonia.

Following the championship match, there will be an awards presentation on the field for the following: Tournament MVP, Golden Boot (most goals), Best Defender, Best Midfielder, Best Forward, Best Goalkeeper

Following this presentation, the teams will return to the hotel for a final dinner and social time for the players.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 12

By: Erin Lycan
Last night the team took a trip to downtown Sochi for a bit of comfort food - McDonalds! The girls were so excited to get some protein and a little taste of home.  Although it’s not food that I ever eat, the thought of actually getting some protein from chicken nuggets and some real ketchup was too good to pass up.  It’s probably the first time I’ve eaten at a fast food chain in over a decade and as fun as it was to get out and do it with the team, I think it’s safe to say that will be my last fast food foray.  That trip was followed by the second evening where the other participating teams performed their "skits". While the team went to McDonalds, Coach Fran stayed back at the hotel for the coaches meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to determine the schedule for the remainder of the event, as well as address any concerns. The tournament organizers feel strongly about the final placements of all of teams outside of the finals. So for example, even though there are four teams (China, Turkey, Estonia, and Russia) in the semi-final round, the organizers are also interested in determining places 5-11. What they've done at this stage is organize two additional brackets, the 2nd bracket is where Region 1 falls, with Ukraine, Krasnodar Regional Team, and the Urals Regional Team. The 3rd bracket consists of Belarus, Uzbekistan, and the Moscow Regional Team. At the meeting, Region 1 expressed our feeling that placement at this point in the tournament is irrelevant for the teams who have not advanced to the semi-final round, and that it is our preference to play a new or different opponent than we have played thus far. Region 1 asked through translators if other teams would be open to changing these arrangements to accommodate the opportunity to play different opponents, and the answer we received from the Krasnodar Regional Team and Ukrainian National Team (who we've already played and tied) through translators was that they did not want to play a different team and that they wanted to have the chance to beat us instead. The feeling of the coaching staff was that we preferred to play a new opponent, as a different opponent presents new and different problems for us to solve. The viewpoint of the other teams, as it has been for all of the teams throughout our trip, is that everyone wants to "beat the Americans." We are hoping that the team will respond to this approach once again and in the case of playing the Krasnodar Region again, that we will be able to beat them this time around, as we knew our earlier 2-2 result against them in group play was not representative of our play.
Following the meeting, we spoke with Estonia who had expressed an interest in training at the same time and on the same field so that after a brief training session / warm-up for each team on Saturday, we would engage in a modified and informal friendly. This morning, following breakfast, the team went to the field for an hour session prior to the friendly against Estonia. Coach Erin took the goalkeepers for the first half hour to work on flighted balls while Coaches Mike and Fran worked with the field players on passing and receiving technical repetitions. Following this, the team played a three team game to 2 goals, with two teams in the game and the third acting as one-touch bumpers on the perimeter of the field. The team who was scored on left the field, the bumpers enter, and the team who scored gets the ball from the goal they just scored in and attacks the opposite direction. Following this, the team kicked off against Estonia for a 40 minute match (2 x 20 minute halves). Coach Fran served as the referee for the match and both teams were able to experiment with different players in different positions. Region 1 took a 1-0 lead into halftime on a goal from Jennifer Gibbons. Region 1 tacked on two more goals in the second half on strikes from Tori McCombs and Jenna Gibnney to close out the scoring and give Region 1 the 3-0 win.
Tonight following dinner, we have organized a movie night for the girls in a theater type room here at the hotel. The seating in the room includes movie theater-style seating and a large screen and large speakers. The team has many DVDs with them and the group will take a vote on which movie they will watch together…so far, Adam Sandler’s Don’t Mess With The Zohan seems to be in the lead.  We've also extended the invitation to the Estonian National Team to join us, as the players and the staff from our two teams have connected and worked together very well on this trip.

The team will kickoff tomorrow at 12:30 against the Krasnodar Regional Team - wish us luck!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 11

By: Erin LycanRegion I ODP – 2

Turkey National Team U19 – 2

Turkey advances on penalty kicks - 5-4


Region 1 ODP battled back to tie the game at 2-2, after going down 0-2 in the second half, to force the match into penalty kicks to decide the winner.

Region 1 led the game in shots in the first half with 5 to Turkey’s 3, but neither team could score before the half. Coming out of the half, Turkey got on the scoreboard first and took a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute scoring from a breakaway scenario. Turkey would strike again just 6 minutes later in the 50th minute when a Turkish striker hit a ball from the top of the 18-yard box to give the Turks a 2-0 lead.

Region 1 would battle back and close the gap to 2-1 in the 66th minute when Haley Miller scored from a pass from Allison Yeager who redirected the ball off of a corner kick taken by Jennifer Gibbons. Region 1 continued to battle and were awarded a penalty kick for a foul in the penalty area extra time in the 83rd minute. Tori Leigh stepped up and buried the penalty kick to bring the game even at 2-2. Just seconds later after the ball was kicked off, the referee signaled for the end of regulation and both teams prepared for the ensuring round of penalty kicks.

Each team converted their first 4 penalty kicks and Region 1 missed their 5th shot. The 5th and final shooter for Turkey stepped up and finished her shot and the Turks celebrated their victory.

The game was not without controversy and there were some heated words and shouting coming from the 8 coaches on Turkey’s bench.  They didn’t help themselves by distributing a goalkeeper coach far outside of the technical area but “on another field” to yell at the players during the game and when one of their players kicked a ball at one our players after the referee whistled the end of regulation, resulting in a second yellow and therefore a red card for that player, their bench went ballistic.  Suddenly their ability to speak English, albeit angrily and with a certain amount of cursing, was quite the revelation.
As a result of today’s loss, Region 1 has been eliminated from the tournament as Turkey advances to the semi-final. Other winners advancing to the semi-finals were Estonia (a winner in penalty kicks over Ukraine) and China a 2-0 winner over the Krasnador Regional Team. At the time of this post, the score of Russia’s Quarterfinal match was not available.

Region 1, for the remainder of the event, will train daily, and will play two more friendly matches before returning back to the United States. With China, Estonia, Turkey, and most likely Russia advancing to the Semi-final round, we are likely to play Belarus and the Urals Regional Team, as those are the two teams that have also been eliminated from the tournament and who we have not yet played.

There is an administrative meeting this evening where we will learn our schedule for the remainder of our time here and we will be sure to post an update as soon as it is available. We thank everyone again for following us and for all of your encouraging and positive emails throughout our time here in Russia!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 9

By: Erin Lycan
Ukraine Match Summary:

Region 1 got off to a quick start scoring in the 10th minute when a handball was called inside the penalty area and a penalty kick was awarded. Kristen Schmidbauer stepped up and buried the ball in the back of the net to give Region 1 the 1-0 lead that they carried into halftime. To start the second half, Ukraine scored on a direct kick in the 43rd minute on a direct kick from just outside the penalty area to tie the score at 1-1. The match, that was physical in nature, was played on an artificial surface due to the wet weather conditions. Region 1 out shot Ukraine 10-3 in the match and recorded 4 corner kicks to their 1.

By virtue of today’s result, Ukraine has won Group C with 7 points (2 wins and one draw) and Region 1 has finished 2nd in Group C with 5 points (1 win and two draws). By virtue of their second place finish in Group C, Region 1 has advanced to the Quarterfinals and will play against the U19 National Team from Turkey on Friday, March 12th at a time to be announced.

Following lunch this afternoon, the coaches met individually with all 16 players to review current status, progress, and thoughts moving forward throughout the remainder of the event. This afternoon, the team will enjoy some down time, followed by dinner, and a skit presentation that they will perform for the other teams participating in the tournament.

The team did very well on the skit portion of the night and it was hilarious watching them come up with a routine over the course of a few hours. They did a dance medley that went from Soulja Boy, to Miley Cyrus(Party in the USA), to Cupid Shuffle, to Cotton Eyed Joe, to end on Darude’s Sandstorm. I do believe they’ve set the bar for the rest of the presentations. As with everything else, the leadership and synchronicity that they are practicing bodes well for the actions we are asking them to execute on the field…hopefully the creativity and confidence will carry over as well!

Thursday, March 11th

We've had a few internet complications today and are getting this update to you a little later than we hoped, but we hope you will enjoy it!

Last night the team performed their “skit.” Each team is asked to perform one skit as entertainment for the other teams during this event. As noted on the last post, our team rehearsed their performance in the extra space on the fifth floor of the hotel (despite the constant cigarette smoke pouring out of the Chinese team trainer’s room) and managed to choreograph quite a routine.
This morning, following breakfast, the team traveled over an hour each way by bus with the Chinese National Team to and from the Iabga Mountain. This mountain has 4 different slopes on it and will be the site for the following events for the 2014 Olympics: Alpine skiing, snowboarding, ski-jump, bobsled, skeleton, and the luge and we were told it is 8,000 feet high.

The team rode the gondolas to the top of the mountain, with 3 stops on the way up to change gondolas. Each gondola on the average held 4-6 members of our team. Because we weren’t sure of the length of the gondola ride up and down the mountain, we had planned an activity for the players in the gondolas. On Wednesday, each player on the team was asked to submit two pieces of information:

1 – one fact about themselves that was not common knowledge

2 – one question for discussion

We compiled the discussion topics and then in a separate section, we anonymously compiled the interesting facts about each person. A competition was held to see which group could score the highest by correctly guessing the person associated with the facts. These have not yet been graded, but it will be interesting for sure to see what everyone thought.

One additional bit about today’s trip…our team engaged in an intense, but fun, snowball fight with the Chinese team. We’ve included several photos from the battle – it was fun for those who participated and even more enjoyable to watch!

Following lunch and some downtime at the hotel, the team held a light training session on the grounds of the hotel. After a jog (that included a sing-a-long song), the field players worked with coaches Mike and Erin in a tactical offensive position competitive activity, while Coach Fran took the goalkeepers to a nearby tennis court for some fun handling, coordination, and reaction repetitions, followed by a game of goalkeepers versus the coach (2 vs. 1) soccer tennis match.  At the end of the session, the team played a fun game of "River/Bank" and returned to the hotel to clean up before dinner. Following dinner, the team watched video from the Ukraine match and then had functional meetings - the forwards and midfielders met with Coaches Mike and Erin and the defenders and goalkeepers met with Coach Fran.

Breakfast tomorrow is at 9am for the team, followed by a 11:15 departure for the field for our Quarterfinal match against Turkey......wish us luck!


If tomorrow’s match is tied at the end of 80 minutes, there will be no overtime, and the game will go directly to penalty kicks to decide the game’s winner, and ultimately who advances to the Semi-Finals.


Putting pressure on the ball forces players to panic, play predictable, and ultimately turn the ball over to us.


In 80 minutes, you can create a lifetime of memories.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 8

By: Erin Lycan
Region 1 ODP has participated in this event (Kuban Spring Tournament) for all three years the tournament has existed, this being the third. In the first year, Region 1 advanced to the semifinals and in the second year, advanced to the final, losing to China on penalty kicks.

Courage in soccer is wanting the ball when the game is on the line.

A player who makes a team great is better than a great player.

The team trained this morning and the conditions were pretty wet as it rained throughout the session. We wanted to prepare the team to be especially active in the attacking third of the field and especially combine in the center part of the field to expose their center backs. When we went to half of the field, the Estonia National Team asked to use the half of the field that we weren't using and we were happy to let them use it. We have become friends with their coaches as their English is excellent. The coaches from our team and theirs have spent hours in the hotel lobby sharing stories, ideas, activities, etc. and it has been a great experience to share ideas with them and learn about the soccer culture in their country and how it impacts their national team program.

After returning from training, the team went to lunch and then departed for downtown Sochi for some site seeing and the hope of finding a different meal other than the traditional Russian cuisine we've been eating for what seems like years now. After stopping at the beach and some shops, we were able to locate a retaurant that made excellent pizza. The team made quick work of 14 pizzas and returned to the hotel feeling satisfied and refreshed for tomorrow's match against the Ukraine.

The USA Women’s National Team has played Ukraine on 4 different occasions and won all 4 contests:
6-0 in 1996 in Brazil
2-1 in 1998 in Los Angeles
5-0 in 1998 in Fresno
7-0 in 2004 in Portugal

Players and teams who are constantly moving off of the ball in the attack are EXTREMELY difficult to defend.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 7

By: Erin Lycan
Today is International Women's Day in Russia! Russia is one of 29 countries in the world that celebrate this holiday. It is a major day of celebration for the economic, political and social achievements of women and all government offices are closed to observe this national holiday. In Russia, it is one of the most romantic holidays similar to a combination of Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. Happy International Women’s Day to you all!

Recognize and remain conscious of momentum swings in the game: first and last 10 minutes of each half and after goals. Remember, one big play (strong header, breakaway save, crushing tackle, dangerous attack) can get us the momentum back and propel us forward.

Don’t let success go to your head and don’t let failure go to your heart.


We play Uzbekistan in our second match this morning at 10am and are looking forward to it. Also, we learned late last night that our group has been modified and now we will no longer be playing the Urals Regional Team from Russia in our third group game - now we will be playing the Under 19 Ukraine National Team. This will present a more difficult challenge for us in our third match, but we are looking forward to embracing the challenge of playing another national team.

Region I ODP – 9
Uzbekistan U19 National Team – 0


Region 1 got off to a quick start scoring in the 9th minute and carried a two-goal lead into the half. Exploding for 7 second half goals, Region 1 was led by second half substitute Jennifer Gibbons who scored two goals, and Kristen Schmidbauer who recorded three assists. Region 1 had 8 different goalscorers and had 6 players record an assist.

Following the match, the team returned to the hotel on the bus with Regina, the team’s athletic trainer, and the coaching staff remained at the field to scout our next opponent, the U19 Ukraine National Team, play against our first opponent, the Krasnodar Regional Team. A physical match with numerous fouls and cautions, Ukraine was able to win 1-0 on a direct free kick midway through the first half.

Going into our match on Wednesday against Ukraine, we know that with a win, we would secure first place in the group with 7 points and that a tie, pending other results, would place us at the minimum, tied for second place, relying on a tie-breaker to go through to the quarterfinals. At this point, we are looking at Wednesday’s match as a must win so that we can control our own destiny and after watching Ukraine play today, while they are a tough team, if we play the way we are capable of, we know that we can win.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, the team will train at 10 a.m. and following lunch at the hotel, will take a trip to downtown Sochi for some site seeing and shopping.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 6

By: Erin Lycan
Last night, we also did some team building.  This group is really coming together as roles are getting sorted out and leaders are emerging.  Head coach Mike Singleton has a strong background in pyschology, and the team building activities have been very impressive. 

From our itinerary:

Cherish each and every goal-scoring opportunity as if it is the last one our team will create in that game.

“In the end, we are all going to have to support each other.” Tori Leigh

This thought of the day came directly from one our captains during one of the team building activities.  Taken both literally and metaphorically, they’re making huge strides on and off the field.

From Fran Kulas:
Yesterday we played our first match. While the tie against the Krasnodar Regional Team earned us a point in the tournament, this result for sure felt like a loss to us all, as we all felt this was clearly a match we should have won, particularly after gaining a 2-0 lead with 25 minutes to play.

Following lunch and a brief team meeting, we attended the Opening Ceremonies. All participating teams were in attendance and were recognized in the stadium on the field. Each team was presented with Russian bread while on the field and our team made quick work of that when we moved into the stadium seats to watch the U19 National Teams of Russia and Estonia play against each other. While it was raining throughout the ceremonies, it was an exciting experience for our team and it was apparent that Russia was proud to be hosting this tournament. While Russia’s President did not attend, the President of the Russian Football Union did, as did the Director of Women’s Football for FIFA.

Upon our return to our “base”, we ate dinner and then headed back to the hotel for some teambuilding activities which were followed by some debriefing in conversation form between the players and the coaching staff. During the debriefing we addressed how the activities we conducted were relevant to where we are as a team at the moment and how we could carry the lessons learned from these activities into our performance on the field during the remainder of this event. The team enjoyed the activities for as you can see in the photos posted for today, but they also benefited greatly from them.

Training went well today as we started with our usual dynamic warm-up, and then the field players went with Mike and Erin to spend some time working on technical repetitions and timing of runs in the “Dutch Circle” activity. We certainly appreciated the tournament organizers working to provide us an opportunity to train in preparation for our match on Monday.

Following our session, we returned to the hotel and the team was given the option to take a walk to the beach to see the Black Sea or to stay at catch up on homework. We are happy to report that Tara, Lyndse, Katelyn and Sloan stayed to work on homework– parents you must be proud!

As our trip goes on, the girls are becoming friendlier with the other teams who we share meals and the hotel lobby (only place for internet connection) with. As I type, the girls who are in the lobby at the moment are pestering some of the players from China and Turkey with questions and it is funny to watch them interacting with people who don't speak English. This is yet another aspect of this trip that everyone will remember for their entire lives.

The intermingling of cultures has been especially fun to watch.  Our players were able to speak with the Chinese through online translators as they typed back and forth.  

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 5

By: Erin Lycan
Our opening match was against the Krasnador Region team at 10 a.m.

From Fran’s Summary:
Region 1 took an early lead in the match in the 17th minute when a well-struck indirect kick struck by Tori Leigh was redirected into the goal by a Krasnodar defender. The match was a physical match, with Krasnodar imposing their presence on the game both on the ground and in the air. Region 1 took a 1-0 lead into the half and scored first in the 2nd half taking the lead 2-0 on a goal scored by midfielder Jenna Gibney who was making a streaking run into the box to finish a low driven ball by Tori Leigh. Following Region 1’s second goal, rain began and continued for much of the remainder of the 2nd half and the 2-0 lead didn’t last for long, as Krasnodar scored from long range in the 55th minute, less than 7 minutes after Region 1 went up 2-0. Just 4 minutes later, Krasnodar scored again and tied the game when a free player on the flank crossed a ball that was driven on a full volley on a great finish.

The remainder of the day for the team will consist of a team meeting and attending the Opening Ceremonies. Sunday will consist of a team meeting and video review session, along with an on field training session in preparation for our match on Monday against the Urals (Russia) Regional Team.

It turned out that we had an administrative meeting that lasted almost 3 hours that involved teams picking uniform colors and various introduction to support staff.  There were also two guys in the giant animal costumes, one of whom was dressed as an elephant in a plaid jump suit and the other was a cow with giant lips.  It was also at this time that they handed out a new schedule (in Russian) noting that our time against Uzbekistan had changed slightly.  They neglected to mention that they swapped the much weaker Ural Region team with the U19 youth national team for Ukraine into our bracket.  We found out about that the next day.  At this point though, we just grin and take it in stride.  It’s no surprise that everyone’s gunning for us.  

Friday, March 5, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 4

By: Erin Lycan
Fran Kulas put in an excellent journal which covered the goings-on of today on the mytripjournal blog:

From today’s itinerary….

The USA won the inaugural Women’s World Cup held in China in 1991.

“Hard work beats talent, when talent won’t work.”

TEAM DEFENDING begins with our forwards.

Today was an eventful day for us and an exciting one since today was the first time we were able to take the field since our arrival in Russia.

Following a late breakfast, Coach Mike attended a type of media day/press conference for the Russian press that was attended by him and the national team coaches from Russia and China, during which the Russian National Team coach acknowledged that we, along with China were the favorites in the tournament. Coach Mike reported that while this event was being covered heavily in the Russian press, the country as a nation is still admittedly in the early stages as a developing national in women’s soccer.

While Coach Mike was at the press conference, Coaches Fran and Erin conducted a team meeting to briefly update administrative items, and then to discuss our defending tactics for our first match.

The players showed a level of focus today as they are aware of the importance of preparing to play in our first match and how quickly we must jell as a team.

Following lunch, we were off to our first training session. The training fields were just over 10 minutes from the hotel and were in very good condition. Pictures of the field and the players preparing for and walking out onto the field are included in this update, as are photos of the banners that were displayed at the training facility, which had three fields. The conditions today were a little brisk, but overall were perfect for training, with exception to the small trash fire (notice the smoke in the attached photos) that was burning in a nearby yard that caused some of our players some coughing fits!

The session began with a dynamic warm-up that the players rehearsed in previously in Moscow. Following the warm-up and stretch, Coach Erin took the goalkeepers for their warm-up and repetitions and coaches Mike and Fran took the field players to begin the session with 2 vs. 2 played small goals, with one team attacking one, and defending one. On one field, both goalkeepers were playing behind the goals as back-pass/build-up players and also were able to defend the two goals. One interesting bit about today’s session was that the U19 Russian National Team arrived to train on the field next to ours and it was interesting to observe their training practices.

Upon returning to the hotel, the team ate dinner and a team meeting followed this where the staff reviewed our desired attacking schemes as well as our organization on all restarts. The staff then proceeded to an administrative meeting, lasting almost 3 hours, that was attended by the coaches and was conducted by the tournament organizers. Translators were on hand which was very helpful, particularly to us! The coaching staff of the following national teams were in attendance:

Russia, Estonia, China, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Iran and Belorussia had not yet arrived, but the coaches from the regional teams from the Urals, Krasnodar, and Moscow attended.

The purpose of the meeting was to review the playing rules of the tournament, coordinating uniforms for matches between the countries, reviewing accommodation arrangements, etc.

One interesting discrepancy at this meeting was between the Chinese National Team and the Moscow Regional Team when determining uniform/kit colors for matches. The Chinese refused to wear anything other than all white (white tops, shorts, and socks) or all red (red tops, shorts, and socks). The Moscow Regional Team were a late addition to the tournament because Chile had to drop due to the recent tragedy in their country, and Moscow only had white socks as a result of their late addition. China as the host team for their match against Moscow, refused to wear any combination of colors (white tops, white shorts, and red socks) because this goes against their traditional national color pairings. The USA (as we are referred to here) offered our Blue socks to the Moscow team to help solve the dilemma and they were extremely appreciative of this gesture.

With breakfast at 8 a.m. and our bus leaving for the stadium at 8:45 in the morning for our 9:45 kickoff against the Krasnodor Regional Team, we are all excited for our first match and to start the tournament on the right foot (pun intended!). In addition to our first match tomorrow, the official Opening Ceremonies will be tomorrow at 4 p.m. and followed by all teams watching the U19 National Teams of Russia and Estonia playing against each other. Perhaps bigger than the soccer, we learned that because this event is so well thought of, that the President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, is attending the Opening Ceremonies!!! In addition, we were told that the head of women’s football (soccer) for FIFA (soccer’s world governing body) would also be attending these ceremonies. During the ceremonies, the American Flag will be displayed on the field as our team, along with the other teams, are recognized along side each other in a parade-type fashion.

Today was a long day for all of us, but we learned some interesting things not noted above:

1. Our hotel, Sputnik, and the immediate surrounding areas, will be serving as the Olympic Village (the central location for the participating athletes) for the 2014 Winter Olympics! We were aware the Olympics would be held here, but were not aware that we would be staying in “THE” hotel and area that they are preparing for this major event. The Black Sea is in walking distance (we plan to do that soon) and while there is much construction going on surrounding us as they prepare for the Olympics, Sochi is a very nice place.

2. The Head Coach for the Chinese U19 National Team is experiencing coaching female soccer players for the first time in his career. He most recently was the Head Coach of the Chinese Men’s Olympic Team prior to this new appointment.

This has a pretty long and detailed update and we’re not sure we can do such a lengthy update on a regular basis, but we will do so when possible. Between our training, matches, meetings, staff meetings/video review, we will continue to do our best to keep you updated as best as we can, once we’ve attended to our priorities here in preparing and helping this great group of young ladies represent Region I ODP and the United States as best as possible.

On a closing note, Tori Leigh and Kristen Schmidbauer, were named today as our team captains for this event. Congratulations to them and we trust and look forward to them leading our team both on and off the field during this once-in-a-lifetime experience for our group.

In closing, we hope to provide an update as soon as we possibly can tomorrow following our match, with our positive result as well as goalscorers, etc. So that you can prepare with us, our focuses and phrases that appear on our itinerary for tomorrow are as follows….thanks for following us!

The first USA Women’s National Team Soccer game played on USA Soil was in Blaine, Minnesota. The game was on July 7th, 1986 against Canada, the USA won 2-0.

Set the tone of the tournament in minute one of game one.

Soccer is a territorial game. Remember we want to defend in the opponent’s half, win the ball in the opponent’s half and if we happen to lose the ball, do so in the opponent’s half.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 3

By: Erin Lycan
Breakfast buffet at 9:45am in the Vega Hotel in Moscow. At 10:30 we went through our active warm-up and did a few team building activities. Did some line transitions patterns and played WA!. Met at noon to go to the outdoor bazaar within walking distance. Moved luggage around twice.

Bought/haggled while there and bought two Russian dolls as gifts …also found a very cool hand carved chess set and an arctic fox fur hat.

Left for the airport at 2 p.m. Arrived at 4, said goodbye to Rosa. Got through security with plenty of time to kill for our 7:45 p.m. flight to Sochi. While we were playing a game of Pig Mania (tossing small rubber pigs like dice and getting points based on how they land…yes leaning jowler!) we met some cute young Russian kids. Katie gave out Tic Tac boxes and I did introductions in my baby Russian. It was a massive collision of cultures made all the more easy by the lack of inhibition from the kids. They were returning from a big tae kwan do competition and one 14 yr old girl there had just won national champion. After a big game of hacky sack (and tons of photos by the parents) we got a big game of WA going. The older kids connected over American pop music, politics, and Facebook. The Chinese team was on the same flight and looked on quietly.  Sometime, we truly are the loud Americans.

We arrived in the small Sochi airport and it took a while to get our luggage. When we got to the Sputnik hotel after being on the bus for about 20 minutes, the Chinese were unloading ahead of us. Giant fuzzy mascots were there to greet us excitedly. Some of the girls were a little creeped out. Dinner was in a bag and consisted of grilled chicken, white sticky rice, some amazing red sauce, and a veggie combo which was delicious.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 2

 By: Erin Lycan
After the overnight flight, we arrived in Moscow at 12 local time.  We met our guide Rosa from the Russian Football association and boarded a bus to our hotel in Moscow.  After a 2 hour ride, we entered the ritzy, kitschy neon lit lobby of the Hotel Vega, dropped our gear in our rooms, and headed to the second floor ballroom for a fine lunch buffet.

Russian food so far has been an adventure. Our athletic trainer has  been designated by the players as a taste tester and despite most buffets having English translations, it’s been an interesting experience. The biggest question mark the girls had was about a gelatinous mass the size of a golf ball, clear but containing what can only be described as some type of stringy meat parts. I stuck with the veggies.

After the late lunch, we got back on the bus for an evening tour of downtown Moscow. As a side note, traffic is unruly at best and psychotic at worse. There is a constant chaotic lurching stop/start haphazard randomness to the whole process. People park at odd angles, sometimes just off the road. Electric trolleys muscle through clattery streets, traffic patterns swirl like eddies in a swollen river as one stoppage creates an outpouring of movement to shift around it by any means necessary. The streets are clear of snow despite piles of the dirty gray iced over bits of it on the side banks. Every car and bus is encrusted in a constant drab ashy grit which doesn’t cheer up the industrial surroundings. In fact, people as a whole don’t smile much, and our bubbly giggly American girls stand out wherever we go.

The language has been fun to play around with. I told the girls that the first word they were responsible for learning was Spasiba – which means Thank you.  Since then we have learned:
Minya zavut: my name is…
Das vadanya: goodbye
Da/nyet: yes/no
Kak va vazut: what is your name?
Privyet: hey
Pa zhalsta: excuse me

Both the girls and I have strangely reverted to replying in Spanish sometimes when asked things in Russian…none of us have an explanation for this but it gives us a chance to practice that language as well!

The bus dropped us off in the downtown area and we walked across the street to St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin in Red Square.

Dinner that evening was another gastronomic adventure with a multicourse meal that consisted of:
Round 1: some sort of cabbage, canned tuna, and copious amounts of mayonnaise. Wow, do they love mayo here…
Round 2: stuffed mushrooms
Round 3: an at first unidentifiable meat that was later revealed to be pork.  The girls enquired about the origin of the critter by asking “quack, quack?”
Round 4: some sort of apple puff pastry for dessert

The players are constantly enageged in coversation on the  bus and I am struck by the similarities in the flow of conversation with all of the soccer bus rides I’ve taken as a player and a coach – it seems like movies, past games, old club teams, novels, homework, and food seem to always come up.

We were pleased to get back to our new digs and go to sleep. Before retiring I got to try out Skype with my Mom, which is a wholly new and exciting phenomenon for me but extremely old hat for anyone who’s spent time abroad and knows this is by far the cheapest and easiest (and coolest!) way to connect with people when you’re in another country.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Exploring Russia- Day 1

By: Erin Lycan
I left Charlotte airport and arrived at JFK to meet up with the Region I ODP team. We got our travel gear and polos and warm “puffy” jackets with USA written on them, took a team picture, and then went through security.  Prior to arriving at our gate, head coach Mike Singleton addressed the team noting that the blue we were all dressed in was appropriate as we were going to have to be a hard, defensive, blue collar team against some of the best youth national teams in the world.  We were to make no mistake:  being that we were the American team, everyone looked at us with a target on our backs.  And while we have never trained together, everything we would do from this point forward would be as a unit, united as a team.

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