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2017 Age Group Worlds, from Holland, 4

Day Four: Last day of practice and Opening ceremonies

We warm up for our 10:40 am scrimmage with the French U23 women. It's the last day of practice and the pool is feeling intense. Teams are stretching and warming up in the water with purpose. The referees are looking sharp and moving with vigor.

The buzzer goes off and we're not ready. A full second before our forwards realize it's a go and the French women come streaming in for a quick goal. We reset and face off again. The women play perfect position and they're swarming around our boys backpicking as we curl. I'm almost mesmerized by their play until I snap out of it, watch our boys and tell them to swing off the wall. Raymond does a wide run and scores to tie it up. Later, the refs award us a penalty shot. Quantum and Zakk handle the shot and score. We score again in the second half. Final score USA 3 France 1. After the game, we give the French girls pins and take pictures together. (pix to be sent in a separate post).

After lunch, we hike for a half hour to get to the opening ceremonies. An indoor venue where the teams march in across a stage while their national anthem is played, and then file into the seats. It's a beautiful venue. Spectacular ceilings, perfect lighting. USA flag bearers Omar Mendoza (U23M) and Molly Banks(U19W) remain on stage and Justin Lee our USA U19 athlete gives the player oath in English. Two other athletes recite it in French and Spanish.

The MC introduces a native Aussie in a loincloth and body paint who performs a traditional dance and blows into a six foot wooden trumpet. The sound effects have a moving and primal effect. The entire body of athletes and spectators burst into a prolonged ovation of appreciation for this show of respect to early Aussie culture.

Several dignitaries speak but it's the Lord Mayor who steals the show. Funny, to the point and poignant words about our sport and appreciation of the 500 athletes and staff who have come to Hobart for these world games. Her speech brings tears to my eyes when she talks about the hard work and hours expended necessary to bring these teams to the games. After the ceremonies are over, everyone stands and as I turn around, Coach Kendall Banks is there and his eyes are glistening. He puts his hand on my shoulder and I pat his chest. We both understand.

The kids have fun interacting before and after the ceremonies. Mixing with all the teams, these games are about the kids and the experience they are having here down under. This opening ceremony was special. The games begin tomorrow.

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Jul
21
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Agnes, 10

It’s almost over… Bittersweet game for the U19 girls today.

Jul
20
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Holland, 11

The bug has spread. All ten of our boys share two suites and now six of them are sick.

Jul
20
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Agnes, 9

I am not sure I can make it through this report. It is SOOOO stressful. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone - I can do that tomorrow.

Jul
19
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Agnes, 8

First game today was M19 against Colombia - a great game that I will let Holland do the report on.

Jul
18
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Holland, 9

Our game with Argentina is not until 5:10 pm so we take the boys on an optional cruise around the Bay of Hobart. It's bitter cold and we're the only people on the boat.

Jul
18
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Agnes, 7

This will be a short report. I’m coming down with some sort of bug and I feel completely wiped out.

Jul
17
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Holland, 8

Our 10:40 am game is with the Brits. They beat New Zealand 5 - 2. I consider this an upset and know that our boys will have their hands full.

Jul
17
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Agnes, 6

It’s a cloudy day in Hobart, but spirits are high. Games are going well, and we are all getting into a good routine for our games.

Jul
17
2017 Age Group Worlds, from Holland, 7

So many letters of encouragement from home. Thank you all. Only one game today.

USA vs South Africa.