Hello from Holland!

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(additional photos added on July 24!)


Day 9 July 25, 2008

Hello hello!

I'll start off with the bad news first: this may possibly be my last entry. So, to all my fans - which are probably just my family and a few close friends – I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!

Tonight, the entire delegation kicked back and relaxed at Disco Night. A DJ was brought in and the kids were a big mosh pit! Thankfully, no injuries there. However, our first aid booth was jumping all night tending to bee stings to bloody noses, handing out ice bags to our walking wounded, and finishing up paperwork! That's one aspect of the job we can never escape! Here in Holland we had to write EVERYTHING down from band-aids to hospital visits. It wasn't exactly a task we enjoyed after a long day!

Tomorrow are the soccer finals for the entire delegation. We managed to have 3 girls teams and one co-ed team make the finals. I'm looking forward to it, mainly because it won't be an 8 hour day of hearing "Trainer! Trainer!" at every turn. By the way, coaches out there – please learn your athletic trainer's name! Please! (Of course, this doesn't apply to our wonderful URI coaches! :-)

Anyway, I’ve gone through countless rolls of tape, band-aids, and wound care supplies. My medical kit will be much lighter on the trip home!

Speaking of home, we had a few cases of homesickness throughout the week. I usually adjust quite well to new surroundings but I have to admit there are a few things I do miss, besides my family and friends of course! Such things include: Dunkin Donuts iced vanilla coffees, Subway, my queen sized bed, and my text friendly flip phone!

I will be flying out on Tuesday and arriving in Boston Tuesday night. Then it's back to work at URI for pre-season soccer! Yes girls, I miss you too!

Anyways, I hope you’ve all enjoyed the pics and the blog. I certainly enjoyed writing it.

And finally, a big thank you to the amazing sports information department for giving me the opportunity to do this! You guys are great!

Day 8 – July 24, 2008

Hello all!

The past two days have been anything but uneventful! The athletic trainers seem to be hot commodities around here. When my cell phone rings, I know I'm needed somewhere. Just last night, I was getting into bed when I had to attend to a young man with a bloody nose. All together, we have seen injuries on every aspect of the spectrum. At one point during my event coverage, I actually had a line of banged up athletes waiting to get treated. I felt like I was running triage on the sideline!

Our kids are great and most are taking advantage of the opportunity that they have in front of them. They are interacting with kids from all over the world. One of the coolest things I’ve seen on this excursion was when one of our U14 girl's teams got beat by Wales 2-0, both teams ended up talking and laughing together shortly after the match. They have been cheering for each other throughout the tournament ever since. This program isn't like a typical camp that I have worked before. These kids have to go through an application process with recommendations and an interview before they are selected to participate as an ambassador. There’s quite a range of athleticism!
Tonight was the Opening Ceremonies. I thought it was a little weird to have this mid-week but the other sports started their tournament games today. Soccer, with such a big delegation, started a few days earlier. I got to walk in the parade with the athletes, which I was pumped about. The ATCs, athletic directors, and coaches all had to wear black polos. We looked a little like Secret Service. It was kind of a rush when we were announced and kids from other countries started cheering for us and chanting "U-S-A!". As we walked through, we gave high fives to the international kids. It was really an unforgettable experience.
And yes, we did have some medical issues to attend to, even at the ceremony! We're always working!

One last cool thing. Check out this link: http://ptpholland.blogspot.com/  this is the blog that People to People does for the games. There are really cool pictures on here PLUS if you scroll down to the July 21st entry, you will see a very familiar face :)   I won't spoil the surprise, you'll just have to check it out yourself!

Day 6 – July 22, 2008

When it rains it pours...

So, I know I disappointed the millions of my fans by not sending an entry yesterday. My apologies. I just figured that if I'm going to do a blog, it would be best not to write when I'm having "one of those days". And yesterday… well yesterday was that kind of day. I expect to have days like that while I'm here... it's not always going to be a walk in the park. Thankfully, today was much brighter – both literally and figuratively!

I knew it was going to be a hectic morning when we had a young athlete get sick all over the cafeteria floor. After I got him to his mother, who thankfully was in Holland, it was off to practice. This was when the skies opened up and poured on my little co-eds for almost 2 hours straight! I felt like I was back at home in Rhody watching one of our own soccer practices! Interestingly enough, I had a lot of "injuries" this session. The coaches and athletic directors smartly cut practice short and took them back to the hotel before the bike ride for dry clothes. I had to stay out in the rain where the older kids continued to practice. I never thought I would have to turn my heat on in my car in JULY, but I had no other dry clothes on me!

After a pretty hectic morning of running around, I was looking forward to the bike tour. What was even better was that the rain stopped! Yay! The tour was a good hour away and after a fantastic lunch we had the kids in helmets and on bikes in no time. Yes, we had to wear little hair nets too! This is where things get interesting. We had a young man run into and scratch a local's car and we had kids that didn't know how to ride bikes. I, myself, came within mere INCHES of hitting a moving car. I thought bikes had the right of way around here?

I stayed in the back of the pack - in case anything should happen along the tour I wouldn't miss it. I was with a camper who was a tad inexperienced riding a bike and we ended up falling behind and losing sight of the entire group. Needless to say, we got a few miles off course. After numerous cell phone calls to the athletic directors in cars and the help of my TomTom in hand, we managed to get back on track and ended up at the cheese and wooden shoe factory where we belonged. The kids were given tours on how both were made. While wooden shoes are primarily worn by farmers now, it is also a tradition for Dutch men to make a unique pair for their bride on their wedding day!

After all was said and done, it was time to get back to the hotel and relax. However, TomTom got a little finicky and led me down a bike path where cars aren't even allowed! The strange looks from passersby tipped me off... a perfect end to a tiring and frustrating day!

Today was much better as the tournaments officially began. Our student-athletes managed to hold their own against their European 20 counterparts, regardless of score. I have seen a lot of great soccer from these young athletes so far and I'm looking forward to seeing how they come together as a team! And to top it off, a relatively slow day on the injury front!

My location is right at Friendship Village, so I get to see all the various countries being represented coming and going… its pretty cool.

I'll have pictures from the tours, as well as me hard at work, soon enough, the internet connection is down in my room so I'm on one of the timed computers in the lobby.

Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!

Day 4 – July 20, 2008

Hello all!

Today will probably be my slowest and least tiring day of the whole program! I was considering skipping writing today but didn't want to disapoint the masses that are reading this!

I had the morning off and slept in for the first time this trip. I could've taken advantage of this to drive around and explore, but I needed the rest! We had our first practices this afternoon. One of the highlights of the program include a clinic with Dutch coaches, which I think is an amazing opportunity for our athletes!

Of course, I had some minor medical issues, which is to be expected everyday. My schedule for the week will consist of morning taping (starting at 6:30), then morning games with the co-ed 11-13 year olds, lunch, afternoon games with the older boys or girls, dinner, and then finally evening "treatments". Those will mainly consist of handing out ice bags, band-aids,  and mini-evaluations of new injuries from that day. So, quite routine!

Tomorrow will be a bit different as I have coverage in the morning and then am off with some of the athletes on a bike tour with stops at a cheese factory and a wooden shoe factory! I have been looking forward to this aspect of the trip since I was hired in the spring! :-)

Also, I know there aren't a lot of pictures up yet. I have been experiencing some technical difficulty with my email and the attachments aren't actually attaching! More pictures will be coming soon. Hopefully.

Day 3 – July 19, 2008

Arrival Day...

Hopefully I can keep my eyes open while I type this. Today was a busy and exciting day for all of us since we spent so much time preparing for it. The soccer players arrived! We were all assigned to various tasks. Mine was to help answer any questions and assist as needed at Friendship Village, which is a commonplace for athletes to meet and interact with fellow Americans as well as International competitors. I shouldn’t complain about how tired I am now as the kids practically slept walked throughout the day! In order to help them adjust to the time difference, we had to “keep them awake” with a variety of activities and meetings as soon as they arrived.

As for me, I think I drove all over the northern half of Holland today! The roads are a little windy and narrower than what I’m used to in the States. I quickly learned that dashed lines on either side of the road are not car lanes, but bicycle lanes, and driving on them is off limits.  Hopefully, I won’t get a bill for a few speeding tickets during my stay here as there are speed traps in the form of cameras EVERYWHERE!

After my Friendship Village shift, I had to check out of my first hotel, the Courtyard Hoopdorf, to the NH Leeuwenhorst (pronounced Lee-ven-horse). The NH is where they are housing boy’s soccer (14-18) and the co-eds (11-13). When I checked in earlier this evening, the lobby was swarmed with soccer players. This is a HUGE hotel and it’s quite easy to lose your way the first time around. I figured using TomTom to navigate back to my room would be a little over the top so I managed without it.

I have a feeling we will have a great and unique bunch of student-athletes. We had our first meeting with the delegation tonight and even our first minor medical issues. 

Tomorrow, the rest of the sports will arrive and I will be out at our first clinics with the soccer players. Our first two days are practices and then we start tournament play. When that starts, I - along with the 3 other soccer ATCs - will be watching about 8 hours worth of soccer everyday!

That said, its time for some shut eye!

Day 2 - July 18, 2008

I like to ride my bicycle, I like to ride my bike...

Hallo again! No, that’s not a typo, just a one letter difference here in the Nederlands! 

Today was orientation day. We sat through a long, but important, and very detailed meeting covering each specificity that we could possibly encounter during the program. As athletic trainers, we’re used to “organized chaos”; however, this is not so much the case with this program. This is very appealing to me, seeing as how anyone that knows me in the slightest KNOWS that I like proper organization! Our roles and expectations were just a few topics covered at this meeting.

After orientation, we toured our venues. Soccer will make up approximately three quarters of the delegation and we had four fields total to see. If I recall my numbers correctly, I believe we have close to 3,000 athletes - which includes American and international kids. My primary responsibility is co-ed soccer which consists of the 11-13 year old age group. There are three other ATC’s working along with me to cover the biggest sport at the Games! 

After venue sightings, we had a little free time to explore. I, along with two of my fellow soccer ATCs, toured and shopped the main square of the town of Haarlem. Along with us, we had Thomas, a native of Holland, serve as a bit of a tour guide to us wide-eyed American tourists. He convinced me to try a popular Dutch treat: raw herring.

Side bar note: I believe that when you visit a new country you should experience the things that you would not be subjected to in the States. For example, I am not going to be ordering room service or eating at McDonalds (which are literally every five minutes apart here) during my stay here. How else would you know how other cultures live? “When in Rome…”, while cliché to many, holds true for people with beliefs like mine. 

That said, I took the risk of trying this seemingly unappealing appetizer. You can’t knock something until you try it, right? I took the plunge and in the end, absolutely LOVE raw herring now. Who knew?

I am getting used to driving around this country. TomTom and I have made a temporary truce… for the time being. So far, we make a great team. One thing we have to look out for is the many, MANY, bicycles! This is the primary means of getting around here - They have the right of way on roads and have no qualms about taking you out if you are in their path! I see bikes every where I turn during the walking tours I have done around both Haarlem and Amsterdam! 

The past two nights we were able to trek up to Amsterdam and get a feel for their night life. We walked through the very famous Red Light District.

Another side bar: While there are many fun options we can partake in throughout the Games, one thing that we absolutely must avoid (as professionals) is the “temptations” that are available to the natives and tourists of this country.

Tomorrow, the athletes will arrive and it’s going to be work from here on out! I feel like we have a great staff working this huge event.  I have met so many people and made a lot of new friends in a very short period thus far. And as an extra bonus, I have adjusted to the time difference quite quickly and no longer feel the effects of jet lag! 

Pictures will be coming very soon! Doei!

Day 1 - July 17, 2008

Goedemorgen! That's "good day" in Dutch... even though I won't have to worry about a language barrier here as everyone speaks fluent English. I am here working at the Youth Friendship Games as a certified athletic trainer (ATC). The program is sponsored by the People to People Sports Ambassadors and includes sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, swimming, bowling, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling. The athletes range in ages, from 11-19. I will be working primarily with co-ed soccer, one of my favorite sports.

I came across this opportunity in a very unorthodox way. It was a MySpace Bulletin from an athletic-training group. "Free trip to Holland" was what it said in the title. Who wouldn't be intrigued? All of my flights, hotels, meals, and transportation were taken care of too, so it was impossible to turn down the offer!

I plan to check in frequently throughout the Games - with anecdotes, witty quips, professional quality photos, and awe-inspiring stories. So be sure to check back often!

That said, here's a little recap of my first 24 hours - enjoy!

The weary traveler has arrived! After a 5:30 AM alarm for a 6:30 AM train into Boston's South Station and a short cab ride, I found myself ready to go at Logan Airport about six hours early for my connecting flight to Detroit. I didn't plan my itinerary very well as you can see...

In tow, I had a suitcase that I can only describe as being able to fit my entire 5'5 frame into, a medical kit thrown over my shoulder, a computer bag, and a backpack with the necessary carry-on items. It made for quite the spectacle trying to balance all of this.

The flight over the Atlantic was 6 hours and 45 minutes, I even flew through passport check at Schipol (Amsterdam's airport) and my luggage was happily waiting for me to lug through the airport upon my arrival! I was anxious to get to the hotel and sleep off a mad case of jet lag in combination with a long travel day. With the exception of the fatigue, it was a smooth sailing trip...

What I was not prepared for was this: "You are on your own getting to the hotel"!! A rental car key, a cell phone and a GPS were thrown on me and before I knew it, I was sitting in the driver's seat of my diesel-fueled car. Not a problem! I feel that I am a directionally oriented person and a fairly good driver so I was fully confident that I could do this with a little help from my little GPS buddy... I mean, all of the sites were programmed in by the delegation office, all I needed to do was push a button! How hard could it be??

Well, I wasn't counting on GPS telling me to turn left when there was no left hand turn. So, I spent an hour (a sleep deprived hour mind you) driving in circles around the Amsterdam airport and a mini site-seeing tour through Holland. I don't know why, but I guess I thought I could try and "figure it out". That didn't go so well. Yeah, totally dumb on my part.

Additional lesson learned: Road rage is universal, regardless of what country you're in.

Have no fear! The one and ONLY number I had programmed in my international cell phone at that point was one of the staff members that met me at the airport. I managed to get back to the Arrivals gate and get a brand-new functioning Tom-Tom. Thankfully, GPS #2 got me to my hotel!

So, I just woke up from an amazing three-hour nap and I'm about to get ready for our welcome reception. After that, we will be dropped off in Amsterdam! The athletes do not arrive until Saturday, which should give us ample time to get acclimated to the area... and figure out the GPS system!

And yes, I plan on buying cheese and wooden shoes. I am a tourist after all.