WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2009 LACROSSE
Beyond being a husband, a father, and a US Citizen, there is really not much more needed in life. My father often said, “A man needs something to do, something to love and something to hope for….”. I can unequivocally state, that the aforementioned three cover the Old Man’s fodder to a T.
We gave Caroline some hugs and kisses waved good-bye as we drove away from DIA. She was on her way to success or failure. Looking back on that moment, there was really no in-between for her. Not “bringing home the gold” would have meant failure. Anything in-between would have been failure. She will probably not remember this conversation with me, but when she was busy playing soccer, she met the gold medal women from the Women’s US Soccer Team. Not long after that, I asked her if she would like to walk up and get a gold medal some day. Shyly, as she has always been, she said yes. Pragmatically as I’ve always been, I said, “It’s OK to wish for a Gold Medal, don’t be ashamed of wishing for success”. The conversation drizzled off into nothingness, and really never resurfaced.
As Caroline headed off to report to “training camp”, the rest of use scurried around getting our personal worlds ready for our family to surface once again together in Prague, Czech a few weeks later. Dee had her tournament in Vail which has grown into a well attended and received U-17 and U-15 Girls Lacrosse Tournament in what is one of the most scenic valleys in the world this time of year. William troops of to his summer internship at P2 Energy Solutions trying to accumulate as many hours as possible before his departure. Andrew just out of high school for the last time is into his summer routine of part time jobs including Life Guard, yard maintenance and shortly before leaving Food Expediter at Lime in Greenwood Village. We joke when he heads out the door, “everything tastes better after the second Margarita…”.
Over the next couple of weeks, we receive texts, email and an occasional phone call from Caroline. “The team is coming together; we are working well together; the Defense this, the Attach that; the transition this; a new ride is working well and more. “ With each message our expectations are peaked even more. Nothing less than VICTORY will do – of course we aren’t even on the plane yet. We’ve never seen the team from Australia, and what about all those US kids on Team Ireland? Stupid in our own ignorance, happy in our own ignorance!
Caroline touches down in Prague (Praha). Skype is actually working, and I’m talking to her on my little microphone. She sounds good, her accommodations are first class (Iris Hotel), and they are starting to get a routine down. Most importantly, there is a Micky D’s right out the front door of the hotel; Ice Cream on demand. Life is good!
Once again, back at home, Dee wraps up her tourney with coaches promising to reappear next year with even more teams; even better than this year. Down in Denver I’m getting Andrew and William tuxedoed out for the big party on Saturday night. Unfortunately, this means we will miss the opening round of the World Cup Games. We stay in touch. Caroline is good about keeping us in the loop.
LE BAL DE BALLET awaits Dee’s return. She’s dressed, the boys are dressed, and I’m behind the wheel. We are off to the coming out of Andrew Cryer. We have fun, we dance, we talk, we eat, we take pictures, and people take pictures of us. Life is good! But, we all have the notion in the back of our heads; a long flight waits for us the next day. Prague, Czech is 8 hours away on the clock, but this seems like a millennium on a plane.
The best airport shuttle friend a family could have, Lori Tyrie, is there bright and early to get us out to DIA. Lori was a dream come true that morning. The security line is forever, “Are all these people going to the world cup?” Probably not, it’s not even an Olympic Sport, but I’m not going to go there….; we board in time, we’re off, we can smell the Pilzner Urquell from here.
Let’s make a long story a little shorter here. Andrew ski races with the Loveland Ski Club. An exchange student from Prague joins the club this year. Andrew and Lukas befriend each other. Lukas and his father are waiting for us at the airport in Prague. Can you believe the luck? The pieces are coming together. It’s destiny, not luck. Everyone knows you make your own luck!
With the four of us, luggage for two weeks, and a few luxuries, we also need a cab to get back to the hotel. Lukas’ father can’t legally keep up with the cab, but for his F-1 training, there would be no chance for the chase car to keep up. I couldn’t understand the cabby, but I think he said he was Michael Schumacher’s cousin or something like that. Anyway, we pull up at the Palace Hotel Prague with just the scent of fear wafting around. Dee looks in both directions before releasing her seat belt.
The Palace is great place for Base Camp Prague! It’s close to Old Towne, it’s clean, it’s close to the subway, it’s close to all the sights to see, it’s only a few steps away from subway to the Slavia Praha Sports Centre and there are Lax Parents everywhere.
We shower, we change, we meet Lukas in the lobby, and we are off to Old Towne Praha to of all places The Hard Rock Café! Players, parents, coaches and friends gathered on a third floor dining room which could have been in my town back home except for the Czech beer. Having missed the opening round, we already know the US Women have captured the #1 Seed and they will play Ireland in the morning. Team Ireland with a Roster stacked with players from the US, we aren’t quite sure what to expect. There is no rest for the weary. After 100 Bottles of Beer at Hard Rock we are back to our room, although along the way, Lukas points out some potential ‘pick pockets’. Personally, I have my valuables back at the hotel in the room safe. I tell everyone that I’ve forgotten my wallet. It is a great way to get free beer.
We are up and out of Base Camp Prague early; Sightseeing wherever and whenever we can along the way. The sports complex is not far, and we know the way from last year’s trip. We arrive at Slavia a little early. Scotland is playing Australia. True to their Brave Heart legend, whenever the Scottish Women advance the ball past the restraining line into an offensive position, the bagpipes start their melodious whine. All I can think of is Mel Gibson, sword in hand, the similarities are frightening real for me at this moment. I decide its best to slow down on the home brew from the concession stand. The truth is, however, the beer is less than the bottled water. You can’t blame a man of Irish decent his local brew at a time like this, can you?
Once again, the US Women have made their own luck and we advance to the Semi’s. Although very tough, very dramatic, and somewhat skilled, Ireland is no match for the girls wearing Stars & Stripes! Mickey McFadden leads the Dads on the sidelines with the first stanza of God Bless America; we’re all a little misty….
We are back into to town for some more antics around Olde Towne, but for the most part, it is an early night with jet lag looming its ugly head. We head back to the Palace as it quickly picked up its new nick name easily. But, before we could find the elevator, there were Lax Parents in the lounge bar. We just had to pay too much for a few drinks and a few laughs. The bed felt really good by the time we made it up to the 4th floor. Windows open, a breeze crossing our corner room and the faint sound of traffic on the cobblestones below. It’s a good life!
We wake to DeeDeeBobby ready to take on Prague. She has us up to the Palace Cathedral and the changing of the guard in less than hour. Even in shorts and t’s we are hot and sweaty from the riverfront humidity. Tourist traffic seems off from last year, and we are through the lines and around the traffic just like a Nike Commercial. Unfortunately, Nike’s just don’t fit, and I’m wearing my new Brooks hand picked by my wife and boys. I’m looking the part with backpack and camera ready for the next shot. Prague really is picturesque. It’s a river town. If you’ve been to Pittsburgh, picture it with 900-1000 year old structures still in perfect condition. But, we are pulled away; we have to play Jolly Old England in a couple of hours; so it’s back to the Sports Centre.
By now it looks like we will definitely be taking Australia on in the finals, but we have to take it one game at a time. England is strong, fast, and tough. The first few minutes are very dramatic, but in the end, we have to pull off the dogs and coast to a 20-3 win. The English are good fans and their pageantry is superb. They actually know the words to all their songs when they sing them. We pack and move from our spot to make room for Canadian fans to move into position. We watch through the first half. We are truly amazed at how well prepared Canada is for this game. Their previous gaffs of ball control and soft defense are soon as tight as I’ve ever seen them. This is the game we waited all day for; and now it is right in front of us! Literally in just the last few seconds the game was decided by Australia moving on with a 12-10 victory. I’m sure they were still breathing hard walking back to the hotel. It was a close one!
We have a nice evening with Caroline on a free night (No game on Friday), so we stroll around Old Town and find a great little café to eat outside. Close to the clock, the boys have not seen the on the hour display by the 600 year old clock. They are underwhelmed and almost missed it. The salads were fresh, and pizza was excellent, and the beer once again was cold and fresh!
Friday morning arrives quickly, but the jet lag is lightening its grip on our internal clocks. Caroline gets to sleep in and rest, but we are off to Pilzen. About an hour away by train through the Czech countryside is the mother ship for Pilsner beer. First brewed in Pilzen well before our legal age, Pilzner Urquell is famous around the world. Pilzner brew masters try to capture its rich and almost smoky flavor, but few if any achieve the same rich, smooth and fulfilling taste of an Urquell. After the tour and taste, we hustled into the old town of Pilzen for a nice lunch, a quick look around and then back to the train station. That evening we run into a few families around the town square, we have the worst meal of the trip, and we head back to the hotel. Nervous with anticipation, wondering what the Aussie’s are thinking, sure that they are thinking about the Big Game in the “Big Arena”!
I can’t quite remember what happened before we found our spots in the Arena Saturday afternoon, but once we arrived, there was no question in my mind what was going to happen.
Of course the Australians arrived way too early. They set themselves up on the US Team’s side. They wouldn’t give it up. So, by the time I got there, I’m on the front row directly across from the Aussie Bench. I knew we were going to drown them out.
Tied at halftime; but when the whistle blew in the second half, the US Women fired off 4 fresh balls into the back of the net. But, the Aussies still had a lot of life left. They ran, dodged and pushed their way back. Slowly but surely, they were in the game again. I’m not a sports writer, and there are lots of blogs telling the whole story. Long story short, when the final horn was sounded – the US Women’s Team was on top 8-7 and I was weak at the knees; only thing left to do – celebrate.!
When the women came to our side of the field, you could see the joy, the relief, the excitement and the pride. They were now World Champions. No one can ever take that away from them, ever! It’s a good life! Mickey McFadden leads the Dads on the sidelines with the first stanza of God Bless America; we’re all a little misty….
I think, I heard the boys come in the adjoining room around 3 PM that night। Caroline said it was a wild cab ride back to the team’s hotel. Everyone showed up at the airport in the morning looking a little ragged. But, The Cryer’s were once again on the same schedule and on the same trip; back together again. What could be better than a Mediterranean Cruise, right? But, that’s another story! I’ll keep you posted….tc