Thursday, August 2, 2007
The Saint Mary's College Soccer Team arrived home safely after an amazing 8 day excursion to the UK. The last 48 hours the Belles enjoyed an awesome view of the entire city of London from the famed London Eye. The 110 story "ferris wheel" allowed the entire team to ride together in a rather large glass capsule and get some amazing picutures of the city. The entire ride took apporximately 30 minutes and we were fortunate to enjoy it on a very clear day in London. Our Eye Ride was followed by some last minute sight-seeing to Westminster Abbey, lunch, and some power shopping on the Mall in small groups. After doing our best to spend all our UK currency before returning to the US, the entire team reconvened at the Tube at Knightsbridge in the middle of the afternoon for our quick trip back to the Regency. And then, it was off to our last match versus the London Ladies FC.
The match versus the London Ladies FC finally found the Belles playing some quality football from beginning to end. It was a back-and-forth affair with a 2-2 tie until about 15 minutes remaining. The Belles went on a scoring tear for three quick goals and in the end, came out on top with a final score of 5-3. It was a very satisfying way to wrap-up our trip. Immediately following the contest, the Belles enjoyed socializing with the London Ladies side and some even shared some of their hidden talents by participating in a little karaoke. Of course, we wished that some of their talents had remained hidden, but overall it was good fun for everyone.
Following the match, the Belles, returned to the Regency for one last night, and began the daunting task of packing more "stuff" then when they arrived. The team wake-up call came quite early at 5:45AM and then it was a quick breakfast and one last bus ride with our favorite tour guide Aidan Canavan to Heathrow Airport. After clearing security and the bag weight limit (except JH!) we all said our sad goodbyes to Aidan, and it was off the Duty Free Shop followed by a LOVELY (must be read with a British accent), eight and a half hour plane ride home. Touch down in Chicago was just before 2PM US time, 8PM UK time, where the Belles managed one more smile in a group photo before going their separate ways.
Overall, the trip was amazing and the coaching staff is already chatting about the next one and where we will go. On a personal note, Belles... you set a very high standard in terms of behavior and conduct on this trip. It wasn't possible at O'Hare to tell you how enjoyable you made this trip for me and I am sure rest of the coaching staff and parents feel similiarly! Thank you for you willingness to be flexible and open to every experience on this trip. Hopefully, the memories you take away will be lifelong. If I could summarize this trip in one word, it would be, BRILLIANT, and of course, it must be said with a British accent. Cheerios or is it cheerio, or maybe I'm just hungry for some US food, oh well...until next time!
Monday, July 30, 2007
We awoke to a beautiful day in London kicking the morning off with a bus tour of the city. We traveled through Picadilly Circus, Westminister Abbey, and Liecester Square. We ended up at St. Paul's Cathedral where we took a tour through Christopher Wren's (the Architecht) breathtaking masterpiece. We were also lucky enough to score front row seats for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace...unfortunately the Queen was not in residence. We then split off for lunch in seperate groups as everyone was eager to see what London had to offer. Several girls opted to visit the famous Tate Modern Museum. This museum showcased some of the finest modern art from artists such as Salvador Dali, Mark Rothcoe, and Picasso. A number of the other girls decided to go to the Tower of London. Here we were able to take a look at England's ugly past and their current prized possessions. As we passed through the Traitors' Gate, we were surprised to see some eagle-sized ravens that looked very capable of eating small children. Our first stop was the resting place of England's crown jewels...England's got a lotttt of BLINGG. We then went over to the Bloody Tower and the torture chambers to witness some unbelievable replicas of torture devices that were used on prisoners in England's past. Finally, from the Tower of London, we had some remarkable views of the Tower Bridge. Our evening exhibitions were followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. Dinner was followed by a high speed race to the theatre. We arrived to the theatre in Liecester Square right as the play started. Most of the team attended Spamalot where we looked to "always look on the bright side of life".
P.S. Mom and Dad, I scored a goal!!!! (Love Bridget)
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Our day started with a tour of Stratford and the birthplace of William Shakespeare. The historical house was a major hit for some and the garden outside was a beautiful location for photos. Outside the house a living statue of Shakespeare posed for photos with the Belles after scaring the life out of Lauren. While boarding the bus, the coaches had the opportunity to experience a British grocery store as they gathered picnic supplies that we enjoyed on the lawn near Windsor Castle. Next we all headed to Windsor Castle for a tour of Queen Mary's Doll House and the Royal State Apartments. The rooms were incredible and Boston claims that her chandeliers look very similar to the ones in the royal dining area... some of us are a bit skeptical. Finally, after everyone shopped around the castle the team boarded the bus for London which was our last ride with Allen, the bus driver. We arrived at the B-E-A-U-tiful Regency Hotel on the outskirts of London to enjoy dinner. That evening the team boarded the Tube and took a walking tour of the London Eye, Big Ben, Parliament, and the surrounding areas before collapsing into bed for a long day ahead of them!
"We're young, we're thin, we really want to win... Saint Mary's, Saint Mary's!!!!" Our futbol match against the Vixens led us to our first win over seas. The experience was extremely unique and our opponents played out of a true love for futbol and in the spirit of the game. During the post game social, they left us with the cheer above that was very similar to the ones they had for themselves. Oh!!! and cookies are a must for a half time boost. After the match we headed to Stratford-upon-Avon and visited the Warick castle for a photo-op. After a long day on the bus we concluded the day with a visit to The Lion, a local pub. Without a doubt, everyone had a great time that evening and we were quite the billards players.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Brilliant! The day started off with a fabulous training session about an hour away from the Jury Hotel with MELVIN!! Holding the highest UEFA coaching certification, Melvin, was everything we had hoped he would be. He was impressed with our desire to learn and willingness to improve. He also made it a point that we never call our soccer shoes "cleats" again because they are "boots."
Following the training session we journeyed on to the Manchester United futbol pitch for a tour led by an enthusiastic guide who was clearly a tremendous United fan. The grass was pristine and one end of the pitch is called the Stretford End because the pitch is not actually in Manchester, but Stretford. After the tour everyone's wallets became significantly lighter due to the Manchester United MEGAstore. The Manchester Museum captured years of amazing players, championships, and history and the pictures of Cristiano Ronaldo were exceptionally special.
Back at the hotel we had a dinner of roasted chicken, salmon, potatoes, mushroom pasta, and veggies ended in the team venturing off to some sophisticated local clubs. A select few of us showed the English a thing or two about dancing! The night came to an end around 11 PM and it's off to a good night of sleep before our match tomorrow morning! Cheerio!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Much has happened since our last entry....
The Belles met a tough match on the pitch on Wednesday in the Edinburgh Ladies. The Ladies sported a few Scottish National Team players that sliced their way through the jet-lagged legs of the Belles. The final score of the contest was a lot to a little with the Belles on the short side. The football game on Wednesday marked our last night in Edinburgh and we would start our trek through the south of Scotland into England on Thursday morning.
One of the predominating messages we received from the Scots is that they don't think too fondly of their neighbors in the South---The English. For some of us it was hard to exit the beautiful Scotland countryside, but for others it was quite easy to leave the cuisine behind. We left Edinburgh in a misty, light rain on our luxury coach. The road was constantly winding and up and down hill that left many with a queasy stomach, but the view was worth it. We stopped at Gretna to take photographs of our group crossing into England. We lunched in the lovely town of Penrith where we each went our separate ways and rejoined in the coach with the stories of our adventures.
After what seemed like an eternity on the bus, we finally arrived at our destination of Manchester where we dropped our things off at the Jurys Inn and were off for our game against the Club team from Crewe. The Crewe is just starting off their season and they did it in delightful fashion as they found the back of the net more times than we did. The Belles played with renewed energy and continue to improve each time on the field. They are getting hungry for their next game and everyone is excited to get their first win under their belt.
Special hellos to SarahBudd, Peanut, Chic Katie & Monkey, Minneapolis-St Paul and the ND Ticket Office.