Home Sweet Home….
We've all made it home safely and are now staying in one of the dorms on campus to continue training before the start of school.
The last time I left you, we were heading out of Aberdeen on a bus bound for Edinburgh and Dundee to play our final match. On the way to the game to stretch our legs, we conveniently made a stop at Dunottar Castle, the site where William Wallace (for Braveheart fans) and the Scots overtook the English in a historical battle.
After arriving for the game against Dundee United, we bussed through the city to a remote field in the middle of virtually nothing. It was a strange atmosphere for a game, and the time allotments for preparation were not what we've been accustomed to. Needless to say, our team was quite fatigued as this was our fifth game in 11 days. Unfortunately, we were not able to pull of the magical five-win trip that we'd hoped for. We did, at least, preserve our undefeated streak by drawing a 1-1 tie with a much weaker squad than we'd played earlier in the week.
Full credit to Dundee United, though, for taking advantage of the tired and uncreative ND side that showed up that day. Erich Braun put our goal in with approximately 10 minutes remaining in the match, a goal. They knotted the game quickly after that on a free kick that Greg Tait saved acrobatically, but didn't receive much help with on the rebound. That's where the game ended, and we were all VERY upset, taking this much more like a loss than an actual tie. We know we were capable of playing better and were upset that we couldn't win all the games for the coaching staff because they had worked so hard to prepare us. But, this was a good time for us to learn the lesson that we must compete and we must be at our best everyday.
The bus ride onward to Edinburgh was a quiet one; all we wanted to do was forget about the game. Arriving at our next destination and seeing what Edinburgh had in store for us was just what we needed!
We were up at 7:30am on our last morning in Scotland and going for a "wee jog" up A MOUNTAIN!! After I quickly learned of my fear of heights, we were atop Arthur's Seat, the tallest mountain peak in Edinburgh where the historical King Arthur's Camelot was said to be located. From the very top we could see the entire city, as well as miles and miles of the North Sea that seemed to never end, and served almost as a mirror to reflect the morning sun. This was, for me, the most magical moment of the trip - What a sight!!
The rest of the day was ours, and we each did our own thing. I took advantage of the open-top bus tour that ran all day, describing the history of so many monumental sites in this wonderful city. Tours of St. John's and St. Andrew's churches, as well as the house of the Royal Scottish Family were all in the plans for the day. We walked the shop-lined streets and really enjoyed the European culture that was so vibrant and alive. Some of the guys went some shopping as they are so known to do; others visited pubs and cafes along the way.
Around 8:00 p.m. in the evening we all met up again in the center of town, and gathered, along with thousands of other people that packed the city that day] for the military tattoo, celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee. We were a part of this festival for two hours that night and watched brilliant musical performances by the armed forces of the UK countries and commonwealth countries, as well as the visiting United States Marine Corps! At the festival's conclusion, we all gathered for the last time and made a slow walk through the city back to our quarters. The boys all have wonderful stories and should have each learned a little something about the history of Scotland so be sure to ask.
This was the end of our exciting endeavor to Scotland that we are so thankful for being able to take. The boys and I are all forever indebted to the staff, especially Coach Clark and Mr Tom Crotty, who funded the trip. But, as with all major operations, there are so many more people that were involved to make this an enjoyable and successful time for the Notre Dame soccer team.
One more special thanks goes to Mr. Ian Winkle and Mark Fraser, a friend and nephew of Coach Clark, respectively, back in Scotland that helped so much along the way. Now I feel like I'm just about ready to end this journal that I've had so much fun with, but before I do I'd like to thank you all for following along with us on our trip. We're so lucky to have such special people like you all to share this experience with. And to all that I've skipped over - a million thanks to>you as well!
We're now staying in O'Neill Hall on campus, and getting geared up for our last week of two-a-day practices. The incoming freshmen have just joined the team for the first time, and we're taking time to get to know each of them. They look to be another special group, and hopefully they'll find their niche soon and fit right in. We've got our first official preseason game this Friday night (Aug. 23), which means we've got time left to get even sharper. Lon Record, our ND strength coach will be with us once again, continuing, as he has >promised, to make us the hardest training team in the country. In the meantime, South Bend is buzzing with other athletics teams reporting back to campus for the start of their seasons as well. Here we go again, refreshed and back at it, trying to fulfill the potential for this year to be a very special one!
Well, I'm no Mary Higgins Clark, and certainly no John Grisham, but I think I've done my best to capture and bring home to you as much of Scotland as I could. What's important, though, is that I've had fun putting this journal together, and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. I'd like to acknowledge Bernie Cafarelli and Pete LaFleur, our PR people at ND, for allowing me the opportunity to do this and for working so hard to put things together.
Feel free to give me feedback on the job that I've done by sending an email to email@example.com. Let me know if this site was a good way to follow along, and even if you might be interested in following something like this periodically throughout the season.
But, for now, "that's all he wrote," and I'm off to preseason training here on campus, phase 3! Don't forget about us, though, because the Irish are still working hard, and not many people are aware of just what we're building in the Bend. Come see us this year, and hopefully you'll get to see the Notre Dame soccer boys putting together the Irish's first National Championship!!
Signing off for the Irish…