Top Ten

After leaving for Newark Airport yesterday morning we encountered something unexpected. Everything was going well as we rode along the highway to our final destination. As we rounded the ramp towards the airport less than a mile away we heard a loud pop. Coach Quinn said, “It really felt like we were coasting down that ramp just now.” The bus driver pulled the bus over to check the tires and instead determined that the belt of the bus had broken and he would be unable to steer the bus to the airport. We were less than a mile away from the Delta terminal. The coaches scrambled quickly to their cell phones to get the situation under control. This was one situation in which Coach would definitely not need to “roll with the punches” as she would in Argentina. Airport Port Authority and Security told Coach that they could see us from the air traffic control tower. They sent us a tow truck a half an hour later as our departure time drew closer. At first the solution was to fix the bus or to tow us in the bus to the airport terminal.  Of course the bus could not be fixed so we only seemed to have one option. The only thing standing in our way was permission from New Jersey Police to tow us in the bus. Apparently, it´s against state laws to tow people in a disabled vehicle. When the Police determined that they would not aid us in breaking the law, Port Authority proposed that we walk on the four lane ramp to the terminal. There was no available shoulder to walk on. We each had at least one carry-on item, a stick or goalie bag (which are huge, heavy and smelly) and one heavy suitcase to check. Coach determined that solution was “absolutely impossible and out of the question.” So, finally we hitched a ride on a bus carrying airport employees to the terminal. Once we arrived with about an hour and a half to spare we quickly unloaded the bus (now attached to the tow truck) and headed inside to check in. We made it with plenty of time to purchase some last minute gossip and fashion magazines along with some Wetzel´s Pretzels.

We arrived in Atlanta and spent a few hours in the airport eating burritos and Chinese food in anticipation of an unfavorable airplane dinner. However, we discovered our plane would not take off until ten o´clock in the evening. It would leave a full hour and 20 minutes beyond our expected departure. This was due to the late arrival of our airplane from the airport hanger it was sitting in. We finally boarded the plane and jetted off for Buenos Aires!

Everyone tried to sleep on the plane. Christine Gall definitely won the award for the most sleep accomplished. She slept soundly the whole time. We arrived to Buenos Aires International Airport at around nine in the morning as the first women´s team at the College to travel internationally for competition. We were greeted by a foggy mist and a cloudy sky. But, we couldn´t have cared about the weather, we were in Argentina! We met Carolina, our wonderful guide for the duration of the trip, at the airport. We loaded the bus and headed to our chic hotel in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires.

After settling into our apartment-style rooms, we quickly changed and met in the lobby to go for a run in a local park. We had our first walk through the stylish city of Buenos Aires on our way to the park. The city resembles many large European cities such as Barcelona and Madrid in Spain. As we ran we made friends with local stray dogs and enjoyed park scenary.

We returned to the hotel, showered and made our way to lunch. Everyone agreed that it felt more like dinner since we had been up for a whole day already. After lunch, we met up with our city tour guide Ana. She walked with us to the Pilar Church, a Catholic church from the 1800s, located next to the famous Recoleta cemetary. We toured the church and made our way over to the cemetary. The cemetary was crowded with thousands of mausoleums maintained by individual families. It practically resembled a small city. We visited the gravesite of Evita Perón, a very famous former first lady of Argentina. She is loved by countless Argentines. We further toured the neighborhood of Recoleta and traveled by bus through the Palermo, La Boca and Puerto Madero neighborhoods as well.

The La Boca neighborhood houses the soccer team in its “chocolate box” stadium (as Ana referred to it). The tenament houses surrounding the stadium were brightly colored in all colors of the rainbow. These were and still are homes of immigrants in Buenos Aires.

The Puerto Madero is the business district of Argentina. But, it is also where ferries depart for Uruguay daily. There is a beautiful white modern bridge known as the “Women´s Bridge” that crosses the river bordering the Microsoft and 3M buildings. We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant overlooking the bridge and the river.

On the bus ride back to the hotel we were graced with several fantastic performances of Disney movie tunes. The team sang “A Whole New World,” “Part of Your World” and “Hakuna Matata.” Maggie Cronin performed “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. Alex Waleko and Patrice Harkins sang “Baby Got Back.” Molly Braun and Christine Gall sang “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” And Margaret Selsor performed, with help from Christine, “I´ll Make a Man Out of You” from the movie Mulan.

As Assistant Coach Jenn Rauscher would say, “That´s a top ten moment right there!” I think everyone would agree that so far every moment has been a “Top Ten.”  It feels like we have known each other forever. That´s what happens when you spend every waking moment of the day with 18 amazing and talented girls.

Tomorrow we have our first clinic with an Argentine coach in the morning. After practice, we get to watch the U21 Argentine Men´s team practice before we play in our first game against the Argentine U18 Women´s team. Wish us luck!

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