Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thank You!

Final Photo Gallery

As this incredible European Tour comes to a close, we would like to thank all the donors and people who helped to make this trip possible. Without them at the beginning of the planning process, this trip would not have come to fruition and be the great experience that it was for all of us. I would like to thank Brown Athletic Director, Michael Goldberger, for allowing the Brown women's soccer team to continue its tradition of the European Tour and agreeing to the need for a soccer/cultural/international experience for our young student-athletes.

I would also like to thank all of the Athletic Department staff, who helped in the preliminary stages of our trip, with field use, uniforms & equipment, transportation, lodging and meals, and making certain that we were in compliance with everything.

Also, a big thank you to everyone at the Brown Sports Foundation, Executive Director Steve King, but especially the two individuals who played a very important role in the planning of this trip during every step of the financial planning, Nicole Peters and Laura Almeida.

Thank you to my staff, Mandi Risden, Luis Faria, and Athletic Trainer Shelley Lundin, who during the trip assured that everything ran smoothly, and lastly to Jeanne Carhart, who set up this blog, wrote articles, and posted photos, sometimes under not too ideal internet connections, to ensure that the fans, alumni, parents, and friends of Brown women's soccer made a connection with the team while in Europe and felt a part of this special experience.

I would also like to send a special thanks to Dream Team Italy and its owner, Ivan Moltini, for putting together a great itinerary that kept us busy throughout the two weeks and allowing us to have his best tour leader, Elena, along with two tremendous bus drivers, Marco and Stefano.

Thank you again to everyone who made this journey such an unforgettable experience that I know the players and staff members will remember for a life time!


Traditions - Old & New

A new tradition was born in Italy, 30 years after another tradition of the Brown Women's Soccer program began - one that continues today. During Phil's first year as the head coach of the team in 1977, a parent of one of his players gave him a ceramic container with the phrase "Geev'um" on it. This parent was from Hawaii and in Hawaiian Pidgen (a creole language based on English and used by some residents of Hawaii) Geev'um means to "Go for it." Since that first season in 1977, in the pre-game huddle before every single contest, the players shout "Geev'um Bruno!"

While in Europe, the team's true superstitious side came out. In many of the cities we visited, each of the local guides would inform us of a tradition that would bring a person good luck or guarantee them of a return trip to the city if they:
- threw a coin with their right hand over their left shoulder (at the Trevi Fountain in Rome)
- rubbed the feet of a statue of Jesus (at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome)
- rubbed the nose of a boar (outside of a market in Florence)
- touched the head of two separate lions outside of the palace where the King of Bavaria once lived (in Munich)
- Put the heal of one leg onto a mosaic on the floor of the galleria (in Milan) - recognized as the first mall in the 19th century - and spun around for one rotation

I think nearly every single person on the team wasted no time in running over to whatever it was make a wish or hope for a piece of good fortune.

It was in Milan, after many members of the team spun around in a circle with the heal of one foot in a part of the mosaic that is so worn down the painting is gone and it is a grey circle in the middle of all the color, that Phil tasked some players with finding something to represent Brown women's soccer that could be used for a new tradition - something that could be touched for good luck prior to games just as the many statues that we touched while in Europe will bring us good luck.

In one of the three biggest shopping cities in the world, Lindsay Cunningham, Alex Michael, Paige Reidy, and Steffi Yellin had little trouble in finding this special something. They found a sterling silver statue of a bear that has carved out hair all over its body ... with the exception of the top of the head - the place the team decided they would rub before every game for good luck. Standing in front of their bench, and prior to shouting "Geev'um Bruno!", the entire team rubbed the head of the sterling silver bear before posting a 1-0 win over the team from Como - and thus a new tradition was born.

The Brown Team still needs to name the bear and decide when this new tradition is to take place. Will it be mounted in the locker room and be used for home games only? Or will the bear travel to away competition and be used at both home and away games? Only time will tell!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Heading Home

Yesterday was our last day in Europe and we enjoyed a tour of Milan before free time to go shopping in one of the top 3 fashion cities in the world (the other 2 are New York & Paris). We left Milan at 2:45 to head back to the hotel and grab anything we needed for going to the final game.

The event was a mini tournament, hosted by Como 2000, and consisted of two 45-minute games. Our first game was against Como 2000, which we won 1-0. Kellie Slater '10 scored her third goal of the tour late in the game, while Steffi Yellin '10 had 2 saves to pick up the win. Lindsay Cunningham '09 fed the ball across the box and Kate Ashforth '08 fired a shot on net that was blocked by a player. Slater knocked the rebound past the goalie for the victory. Because of the win, we now had a break while Como 2000 played Tourino immediately after. Como took a 1-0 lead, but Tourino scored two quick goals to earn a 2-1 win.

At 7:00, Brown battled Tourino with the winner of that game claiming first place in the tournament. The Bears fought hard and had numerous chances to score, but Tourino slipped one past Brenna Hogue '10, who finished with 6 saves, early in the game on a beautiful header off a cross.

Following the game all three teams were awarded trophies and every player from each team was presented with a medal. We left the field at around 8:30 to go to a local pizzeria for our farewell dinner. The food was delicious and everyone got to pick their own individual pizza, which could have easily fed two people. Following our meal, the waitstaff brought out tiramisu in a cake pan with a sparkling candle in it. We were actually in the same room as two different groups celebrating birthdays who had gotten desserts with candles in them. We all sang Happy Birthday (in English) along with them, and when they brought out our tiramisu, both of those groups sang happy birthday to us ... it was pretty comical.

We got back to the hotel after midnight and had some time to pack before our flight home today. We leave for the airport in about 15 minutes so this will be my last post from Europe. I will try to post some more pictures when I get home either tonight or tomorrow.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Day 12 - Como & Bellagio

Today was our first day without a wakeup call and almost everyone took advantage by sleeping in. We had free time to enjoy Como on our own until 2:15 when we met back at the hotel to walk to the lake for our private boat ride to Bellagio. In the morning, some of us went shopping, some just walked around town, and some took advantage of the free bikes at the hotel to ride around Como.

The weather was cloudy and rainy for most of the day and it started to pour just at the time we were leaving to walk to the boat. We stopped about halfway there to figure out what we were going to do under a covering to try to stay dry and see if the storm passed. Jill Mansfield decided to take a lap around a small flower bed in the rain and soon after about 10 of the girls were out in the rain, jumping in puddles and splashing each other. It was truly a site to see as they enjoyed some of the simple things in life.

The rain finally stopped and we continued down to the lake, where we boarded a small boat and drove for about and hour and a half. Elena, who lives in Como and is also a local guide in Como, pointed out several villas including the Versace villa, the George Clooney villa, the villa that was used in Ocean's 12, and the villa used for the wedding scene in one of the Star Wars movies. We made it to Bellagio at about 4:15 and only had until about 5:00 before we had to meet at the dock to go back to Como, which took just about 40 minutes.

Elena had arranged for Stefano to pick us up, but by the time we got back the rain had subsided and almost everyone decided to walk back to the hotel. Dinner at the hotel consisted of salad, lasagna, and pork with an apricot tart for dessert. But the real treat was Phil taking everyone out for gelato about a 5 minute walk from the hotel.

Tomorrow is our last full day in Italy and the last game. We leave for Milan at 9:00 and will return to the hotel in the afternoon before heading to our final game. We play a 45 minute game at 5:00 and then if we win, we play another 45 minutes at 7:00. If we lose, gametime is at 6:00. Afterwards, we are going to a local pizza place for a farewell dinner.

Day 11 - Zurich

Well, I don't have access to the internet with my laptop so I don't know if I will be able to post anymore photos from this point on. I will see if I can find an internet cafe that will let me plug my computer in, but I don't know if I will.

Yesterday was a relatively light day. We left our hotel for the center of Zurich at about 9:30 and met our tour guide, Patricia, at 10:00. She took us for a tour of part of the city that lasted until about 11:15 and then we had time on our own until about 2:30, at which point we began our journey for Como.

The city of Zurich is extremely clean and very safe. The equivalent of their president (there are 7 of them) can walk around the city at any time without the need for a body guard or the secret service. The canal leading towards Lake Zurich was so clean you could see to the bottom of it. There are a ton of fountains in the city and the water coming out of them is actually so safe you can drink right from the fountain. On part of the tour, we were on a hill top that overlooked the canal, Lake Zurich, with the Swiss Alps as a backdrop. We had ample opportunities for team photos, spending roughly 20 minutes in the park. Some of us even drank some water out of the fountain that was at the park.

With the free time, most of us did some shopping along Bahnhastrauss, which is lined with store after store - some chains, but a lot of watch/jewelry stores and chocolate shops.

After getting on the bus, we headed south through Switzerland for the Swiss Alps and Como, Italy. The ride was long, but provided some fantastic scenery. For most of the drive, we were on winding and narrow mountain roads that brought us around, up and down the Alps with steep cliffs below us during some of the ride. We also drove through many tunnels that went through the mountains, some as short as 30 seconds, others as long as five minutes. We had beautiful weather - blue skies, white puffy clouds - on the first side and then we came out of one of the longer tunnels to grey skies and pouring rain. It was cloudy & rainy the rest of the drive, all the way into Como.

We had about 10 minutes after checking in before heading to the dining room for dinner. Now back in Italy, the dinner was four courses with salad, pasta, meat, and dessert, which was a cup of fruit. But, before the fruit was served, our waiter delivered an apricot tart big enough for the group with a single candle in it for Shelley's 30th birthday. We all sang happy birthday to her and then each had a taste of the tart.

We were able to sleep in a bit today, with no wake up call for the first time since arriving in Europe. We have free time in Como until 2:15 when we will meet for our private boat cruise to Bellagio. Tonight will be another early night with dinner at 7:30

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Day 10 - Dachau & Game #5

This morning started at 9:00 again and we headed over to Dachau Concentration Camp, about 20 minutes away from Munich. The weather was a bit overcast, as it has been since arriving in Austria on the 11th. We had an hour to tour the Concentration Camp on our own, listening to hand-held battery powered guides with pre-recorded information. We all had maps to follow and at various points along the way pressed a coordinating number and learned about what we were viewing.

It was an extremely emotional experience that I felt was compounded by the gray sky above. I would have liked to have had more than an hour as I did not see several areas of the Camp, but we had a four-plus hour drive to Switzerland ahead of us and had to be on the road by 11:30. And even though it was brief, it was still a tremendous learning experience.

We drove for about two hours before stopping at a rest area for lunch and then we continued along to Switzerland. Switzerland is the only country of the ones we are visiting that is not a part of the European Union. It does not use the Euro, but the Swiss Franc. In addition, when crossing the boarder we had to go through a check point, which lasted all of a few minutes, unlike traveling from Italy to Austria and Austria to Germany where we simply passed into the next country. In Switzerland, there are also four languages spoken – Germany, Italian, French, and another that is based on Latin and only spoken by a small percentage of the people.

We hit some traffic as we got closer to Zurich and instead of checking into the hotel, we continued on to the site of game #5, against FCC Zuchwil. We arrived at around 6:15 for the 7:00 game and ended the 90:00 with a 1-1 tie. This team was extremely talented in all facets of the game and gave Brown a great match and a lovely post-game dinner at the restaurant at the field.

Zuchwil won the first half, scoring on a beautiful shot from about 30 yards out on the left side that nailed the top corner of the net and bounced in off the crossbar. Minutes later, Julie Wu ’10 nearly tied it for Brown, but her shot form almost the exact same spot hit the crossbar and bounced over the net.

Down, 1-0 at the break, the Bears controlled the second half, finally breaking through when Kellie Slater ’10 fired a shot from the left side that Zuchwil’s goalie saved. Andrea Pagnanelli ’08 was streaking in on the follow through and one-timed the rebound into the back of the net just before the goalie could scoop up the ball.

Both teams had ample scoring opportunities during the final 15 minutes, but both teams’ defenders and goalies made great stops to keep the game tied. Brenna Hogue ’10 and Steffi Yellin ’10 each made five saves.

Following the game, both teams enjoyed a dinner consisting of salad, pasta, and chicken at the restaurant next to the field. The game ended just before 9:00 and the sun had just set behind the mountains, creating a picturesque background for the meal.

We left the field at around 10:00 (it was still somewhat light out!) and headed to our hotel just outside of Zurich. Tomorrow, we tour the city and then have about three hours of free time before making what will probably be an exciting drive through the Swiss Alps and back into Italy.

Day 9 - Munich or "Munchen"

We awoke relatively late this morning, departing the hotel at 9:00 for the center of Munich, where we were to meet our tour guide for the bike tour, Taylor. Taylor took about 15 minutes to explain to us some of the history of the city. Taylor, who is originally from ... Austin, Texas, was extremely entertaining and kept us on our toes with sarcasm and wit throughout the tour.

I think everyone had a good time on the bike tour and I know it was nice to just have a chance to see the city without being on our feet for six hours. Though we did get rained on, briefly, the worst of the rain came while we were in the English Garden covered by trees and watching some locals surf in waves created by a drainage system.

It was readily apparent that the city is extremely accommodating to bikers – they are all over Munich just as mopeds are all over Italy. There is a separate sidewalk for bikers that sits between the pedestrian sidewalk and the roadways. In some parts of the U.S., I think having a group of 30 people riding through city streets on beach cruisers would be a bit less safe. Even with the rain, it was an enjoyable experience for all.

One thing that is unique about Munich is the architecture of the buildings. You could have several buildings all in a row with different styles of architecture. One pre-war, one post war, and one more modern.

We ended the tour around noon and then separated into groups to enjoy the city on our own, before meeting at 2:45 to head back to the hotel. By the time we got back at 3:30, we had about a half hour to gather our belongings for the fourth game of the tour, in Ragensburg, which is about 1:40 to the Northeast of Munich.

Brown improved its record to 3-1 with a dominating 7-1 victory over S.C. Ragensburg, a club founded in 1928. The Bears scored early and often, building a 3-0 halftime lead. After Ragensburg scored early in the second half to come to within 3-1, Brown scored four straight goals to earn the win, outshooting its opponents, 22-3.

Mollie Mattuchio ’08 got Brown on the board, scoring from about 30 yards out after collecting the ball from Kathryn Moos ’07 in the midfield. Shortly after, Paige Reidy ’10 took a corner kick from the left side and Kiki Manners ’10 headed the ball past the Ragensburg keeper for a 2-0 lead. Just moments later, Bridget Ballard ’10, Moos, and Melissa Kim ’10 combined on a beautiful transition run that led to Kim scoring, but the goal was called back after Brown was called offsides. But, the Bears would get the third goal before the end of the half after Kim fired a rocket from the left side that was saved, but Kellie Slater ’10 knocked the rebound in.

Ragensburg had a strong start to the second half, controlling the flow of the game and getting into a solid rhythm, which resulted in them getting on the board less than five minutes into the half. However, Kim increased Brown’s lead to 4-1 when she sent the ball back on net from 25 yards out after Alex Michael’s ’09 attempt was saved by the keeper.

Second later, Kate Ashforth ’08 nearly put Brown up 5-1 heading the ball on another Reidy corner kick, but the ball caromed off the cross bar to hold the score at 4-1. Manners continued her strong play in the midfield, setting up Michael for Brown’s fifth goal and then Lindsay Cunningham ’09 converted two crosses, one from Jill Mansfield ’07 and the other from Moos, into goals for the 7-1 final.

The defensive corps did a tremendous job in limiting shots from Ragensburg as Steffi Yellin ’10 and Brenna Hogue ’10 each recorded just one save. In the back during the first half were Meg Robinson ’10, Julia Shapira ’08, Bridget Ballard ’10, and Julie Wu ’09. In the second half, Mansfield, Reidy, and Caitlin Gorham ’10 also saw time in the back in addition to the four starters.

We left the game and headed to the sports club, where we had a dinner consisting of salad and a pasta & pork dish. It was a long day for all after getting back to the hotel shortly after 12:30. We actually stopped at a rest area about a 1/2 hour from the hotel and the bathrooms had a great feature I think we should bring to the U.S. You had to pay 50 Euro to use the bathroom, as is common in Europe. But, the bathroom (Water Closet) was immaculate. And the toilets even had a cleaner attached to the back, which the seat rotated through to get cleaned while the toilet was flushing.

Tomorrow, we depart Germany for Switzerland. Before leaving for Switzerland, we will travel about 20 minutes away from Munich to make a stop at Dachau Concentration Camp, which was the first concentration camp and the training ground for the other camps. It should prove to be an extremely moving experience.