June 10, 2018
By John Heisler
The majority of the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse travel party landed about 12:30 p.m. Saturday at New York’s JFK Airport on a Delta flight from Madrid—bringing some sort of ceremonial end to the 10-day Irish venture to Spain.
But not before two final days of adventure in the Madrid area.
A long bus ride from Barcelona ended about 10 p.m. Wednesday night with arrival at the Notre Dame team hotel in the Chamartin area north of the Madrid city centre.
Thursday provided a full day of exploration of the city, with a number of individuals taking the Metro three stops south for a visit to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the home of the famed Real Madrid soccer program fresh off its record 13th UEFA Champions League title—this one in late May in a championship game victory over Liverpool in Kiev, Russia.
The midpoint Puerto del Sol provided a central jumping-off point for many in the Irish party as they wandered to see the Mercado de San Miguel (open on summer Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.) with its tempting list of snack and lunch options (led by one of Madrid’s specialties, Iberian ham) for both food and drink.
The Madrid Almudena Cathedral and Royal Palace both could be found within a 30-minute walk west of the city centre—and the Prado Museum was located about the same distance in the other direction. The Plaza Mayor provided a spectacular vista for visitors.
About 6 p.m. the Notre Dame party gathered at Las Ventas Plaza de Toros where the Irish players and staff took in the 31st night of the current bullfighting program. Notre Dame graduate Matt Kineen, who teaches English and textual studies at Syracuse University Madrid, met the group to provide a quick lecture on the history and culture of the bullfights.
On Friday, the Notre Dame group headed north on a 90-minute bus ride through the hills to Segovia, a picturesque home to an ancient and gargantuan Roman aqueduct, a cathedral in the center of the city and the Alcazar castle with its Disney-like parapets at the opposite end from the aqueduct. The Irish wandered Segovia (population of about 55,000) for about three hours, returned to Madrid and then arranged dinners by class at a handful of tapas spots near the city centre.
Saturday came early, with the travel party meeting in the hotel lobby at 6:45 a.m. to head to the Madrid airport.
Many of the graduated seniors remained in Europe to continue their international travels. Underclassmen headed home for summer jobs, internships and summer school at Notre Dame.
A special thanks from the Notre Dame squad to Pol Llorca, a Spain lacrosse team member who has been working with the Irish coaching and operations staff for months to make arrangements for the trip. He and others connected with the Barcelona Dracs lacrosse club proved to be invaluable on-the-ground contacts for the Notre Dame travel party throughout its stay.
With that the Irish closed the book on their 2018 season.
--by John Heisler, senior associate athletics director
The trip is a unique experience that each Notre Dame men's lacrosse student-athlete gets to experience once in their collegiate careers. It has become a focal point to the entire Notre Dame lacrosse experience. Follow the team on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter along with the hasthag #NDLaxSpain to keep up with the foreign adventure.
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The University of Notre Dame men's lacrosse team pursues excellence on and off the field through the three pillars in which the program is built: Character, Culture & Community. These three foundational values guide the promise of the program, which is to provide its student-athletes with the most compelling and enriching experience in all of college athletics. Through academics, competition, service and travel, the program aims to immerse its players in situations that enhance their student-athlete experience to help them become the people, students and teammates they aspire to be.
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