Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Spanish American Football Website

Ismael Sánchez
"El Catalan"

A big GRACIAS to Ismael, who was our amazing Free Safety on the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons in 2012-13, for his very kind words about me on the Spanish American football website about my being hired to coach the Murcia Cobras in 2015.

Here is the link to the article:

Are You Ready For Yet Another Adventure?

As many of you know, I have fallen in love with Europe and its various customs, traditions, peoples and cuisines.

Since 2008, Laurie and I have been fortunate enough to spend six to nine months at a time, living abroad as we coached American football teams in Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and France during five different seasons.

Euro-Life with, in order, the Catania Elephants, Hässleholm Hurricanes, Thun Tigers and Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons was a constant delight and eye opening as we have witnessed a wide variety of interesting and culturally diverse experiences.

We left France after our Falcons went 12-0 and won the 2013 Division III National Championship season in June of 2013. In the intervening 14 months we have thoroughly enjoyed reuniting with our family and friends back in the USA, but Europe kept calling to me from deep in the recesses of my soul.

My dream has always been to coach an American football team in Spain. Unfortunately, the downturn of the Spanish economy has made it financially tough for teams to afford import players and, especially, coaches.

Why consider Spain you ask?

Quite a few reasons really. 

First, I speak Spanish. Finally, coaching a team and living in a country where I can understand most of what is being said would be refreshing . . . Catalonia, Gallicia and the Basque country not withstanding.

Second, my Grandparents on my Mother's side of the family were both born in small villages (Grandfather in Infiesto and Grandmother in Alles) in Spain's northern province of Asturias. Thus, these family roots make me want to explore more of the home country.

Finally, Laurie and I have spent much of our European downtime crisscrossing Spain to enjoy Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Sevilla, Córdoba, Asturias, Cadaqués, Pamplona, León, Burgos and, of course, Santiago de Compostela at the end of my 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2010. We have come to love Spain and have had, as I said, a strong desire to return there to experience more of this diverse country and, hopefully, coach a team.

Thus, with the end of the Summer approaching, I started to get feelers from teams in Europe to see if I might be interested in coaching their squads in 2015.

I received some strong interest from teams in Germany, Italy and France. These were teams that have good programs and were willing to make very solid offers, but my heart was still in Spain.

Enter an American football team in southeast Spain.

The team in question is based in Murcia

Murcia does have a traditional
Cathedral Plaza . . .

. . . and interesting outfits

Murcia is near beautiful beaches
on Spain's Costa Blanca

. . . and they take Easter Week
very SERIOUSLY in Murcia

Very interesting outfits INDEED!

These people are wearing traditional penitent's garb, NOT what most of you are thinking.

The Flag of Murcia

What do those four castles and seven crowns signify?

So, who is this mystery team?

The Murcia Cobras

They just completed their
20th season in 2014

2013 Murcia Cobras Team Picture

So what do we know about the Cobras?

1. They are in España!

2. They compete in Serie B, the second division of American football in Spain.

In 2014, Serie B consisted of 14 teams split into three different conferences.

In 2015, LNFA (Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano) because of the growth of the sport in Spain, has opted to have three levels of competition, Serie A, Serie B and Serie C.

Serie C will include some teams that are dropping down from Serie B and some formerly regional, grassroots teams that feel that they are ready for better competition now that they have laid solid foundations for their squads.

Because of the new Serie C division, Serie B will have a new look as well. In 2015, Serie B will be made up of ten teams split into two conferences.

3. The Cobras know how to compete!

In 2014, the Cobras' record was 5-3 with all three losses coming at the hands of the undefeated, 2014 Serie B National Champion Mallorca Voltors. The Cobras were second in last year's Southern Conference and were the #5 seed in the playoffs. 

In the regular season, Mallorca defeated the Cobras twice by scores of 19-12 and 26-12. The two teams met again in the playoff semi-finals with the #1 seed Voltors being pushed to the limit before overcoming Murcia again, this time by a score of 13-6.

By virtue of winning the 2014 Serie B National Championship, Mallorca was elevated to the elite, six team Serie A league in 2015.

So who would the Murcia Cobras be playing in their as yet unnamed, revamped Serie B conference in 2015?

Imperials de Rues
9-2 in 2014 Serie B

The Imperials were the #2 seed in the 2014 Serie B playoffs and reached the Championship game where they lost to the #1 seeded, 9-0 Mallorca Voltors by a final score of 9-7.

Barcelona Búfals
5-4 in 2014 Serie B

After tying for second place in the Eastern Conference, they were the #6 seed in the 2014 Serie B playoffs, losing in the first round 16-3 to the #3 seed Las Rozas Black Demons.

Santurtzi Coyotes
3-5 in 2014 Serie B

They did not make the 2014 Serie B playoffs as they finished fourth in last year's Northern Conference.

Zaragoza Hornets
1-7 in 2014 Serie B

They did not make the 2014 Serie B playoffs as they finished fifth in last year's Eastern Conference.

So that is the make up of the Cobras' five team Conference for 2015. They will play every team twice, once at home and once on the road, for a difficult eight game regular season

Murcia is the southernmost
team in this Conference

Travel will be potential mental and financial roadblocks for the Cobras. For example, Barcelona is about 370 miles northeast of Murcia while Santurtzi is approximately 500 miles northwest of Murcia.

On the other hand, American tourists save their money for years to have a chance to visit these cities and the Cobras get to do this for a lot less money.


How about the other Serie B Conference?

Las Rozas Black Demons
8-2 in 2014 Serie B

The Black Demons, located in the greater Madrid megalopolis, were the champions of the Northern Conference in 2014. They were the #3 seed in the Serie B playoffs and were eliminated in the semi-finals 20-7 by the #2 seeded Imperials de Reus.

The Black Demons were the Serie B Champions in 2012.

Why is their logo Demon red?

Coslada Camioneros
6-3 in 2014 Serie B

Another Madrid based club, they were the Northern Conference's second place team. They entered the 2014 Serie B playoffs as the #4 seed but were beaten in the first round 31-26 by your #5 seeded Murcia Cobras.
Barberà Rookies
5-4 in 2014 Serie B

The Rookies tied for second place in the Eastern Conference. Seeded #7, they lost in the first round of the playoffs 20-0 to the #2 seeded Imperials de Reus.

Zaragoza Hurricanes
2-6 in 2014 Serie B

They did not make the 2014 Serie B playoffs as they finished fourth in last year's Eastern Conference.

Granada Lions
0-10 in 2014 Serie A

In 2013, the Lions won the Serie B Championship and were promoted to Serie A. They did not make the Serie A playoffs after a sixth place, 0-10 finish in the Serie A 2014 campaign. The Granada squad was relegated back to Serie B for 2015.

So what should we do?

Stay home for another year?

Take a job in Germany? Italy? France?

Or go with our hearts and sign with Murcia?

What do you think that we should do?

Too late . . .

Hola Murcia!!!

Pour the vino tinto!

Get the tapas ready!


For more about the Murcia Cobras team, go to:

For more about the city of Murcia, go to:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Football, Baseball, a Special Birthday and a French Invasion

At the behest of avid blog followers Paul Sabolic and Julien Urgenti who both expressed their withdrawal symptoms with no blogposts in quite a while, here you are.

In a word, the last few weeks have been . . . BUSY!

Marianne Damboise
arrives at LAX

Let's start about two weeks ago.

Our first bit of news is that our good friend from Lyon, France, Marianne Damboise, arrived in SoCal for a two week visit to the Golden State. Her daughter Lucie had stayed with us for for a similar amount of time last Summer. 

Her visit has given us a great opportunity to be "Tourists in Our Own Town." We will tour the Southland with her throughout this blogpost.


We gathered at my Mother's home on a glorious Saturday afternoon two weeks ago to celebrate her 30th birthday for the third time.

Her Great-Grandchildren were
all there to swim and celebrate

Jacob is on the left with his cousin Kevin.

Kevin likes to follow the Sun

Jacob loves a good pool

My sister Marilyn
with her grandson Max


Kevin, Jacob and Max

Jacob helping Chuny
blow out the candles

"Play me a song, you're the Piano Man"

With Chuny, Andy and Kevin

We all had a great time at the party but once it was over, we still had a lot of daylight left so we drove Marianne to a few iconic spots like . . .

The Hollywood Sign

Hollywood's Visitor
Information Center

Brochure's are always helpful in planning your vacation time.

Chinese Theater Courtyard

Tom Hanks

The Chinese Theater's courtyard has famous movie stars'  handprints and footprints, captured in cement.

While this picture is by Tom Hanks' slab, she was MOST excited by George Clooney's prints.

Laurie LOVES her Minions

On Hollywood Boulevard

The Academy Award's Oscars
are given out at the Dolby Theater
in the background

Hollywood's Walk of Fame

Red Carpet at the Dolby Theater

Post-Hollywood Night Run

Fortunately for all of us the Rodeo Drive shops were long closed by this time.


Posing with our flag in front
of our home for Marianne

With the Johnson's at
Chuy's Restaurant in Camarillo

We were joined by our good friends from Seattle, Mark and Susie on the left with their daughters Sophie and Mallory on the right.

They were on their way to La Mirada, California to drop Sophie off at BIOLA University to start her Freshman year of college.

How the time really does fly.


I'm all about 3D

Don't ask.

Marianne brought these back from her Magic Bus tour in San Francisco which toured all of the main 1960s hippie sites in The City. She had ventured north alone via airplane for three days at the start of the week.

I accepted the ALS
Ice Bucket Challenge . . .

. . . and then challenged Mike


This was a GREAT exhibit at Simi Valley's 
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Mike and I were able to visit the nearby Simi Valley Library/Museum after a one-a-day morning practice last week.

Big Hitting President it turns out

To stiff to be a catcher,
in my opinion

Cool Poster

Baseball in Stained Glass

The Klu

Ted Kluszewski, 1950s Cinncinati Reds first baseman, was one of my favorite players growing up.

The Klu's 1957 Topps Card

What is NOT to love about this card?

Wally Moon

Traded to the Dodgers before the 1959 season, his "Moon Shots" over the left field screen at the L.A. Coliseum helped the local nine win the National League and World Series championships that season.

Weird Glove

Round Mitt

Nice Sign for Bats

I need an NPHS game
night sweater like this one

I love baseball cards

Many rare cards were on display.

Josh Gibson

One of the greatest players from the Negro League era.

The Brooklyn Dodgers only
World Series championship team

They were good the next year too

Died way too young from ALS

The Greatest all-around player
that I ever saw

Sure they solved it . . .

Josh Gibson sliding at Home

Lots of Brooklyn and Los Angeles
Dodger artifacts on display

Love the red numbers

Long ago the Dodgers were good too

1913 Jersey

Jackie Robinson

Cap Anson

THE superstar of the 1890s, his anti-black attitude was a major factor in keeping blacks out of "organized baseball" until the late 1940s.

Even then, integration was
slow in coming to all the teams

Not a Yankee fan,
but I do like their logo

Duke Snider
"The Duke of Flatbush"

Roy Campanella

A tragic car accident left him paralyzed. Thus this great and beloved Dodger catcher never got the chance to play in Los Angeles.

I was born in 1947

Scoreline from Game 7 of the
1955 World Series

Dixon Field?


Marianne and Laurie
at the beach in Ventura

Marianne kicked off her shoes . . .

. . . and waded into the Pacific Ocean


This past weekend was Southern California high school football's scrimmage weekend.

On Thursday, we drove down to Monroe H.S. in the San Fernando Valley to scout Birmingham H.S.'s JV team that we play this coming Friday at Newbury Park H.S.

Monroe's dilapidated facility

The field and track were both in poor condition. There were no lines painted on the field for a game that is all about scrimmage lines, sidelines, first down lines, etc.

Makes you realize how lucky we are at NPHS to have the facilities that we have.

Ancient Goal Posts

Marianne sitting in the End Zone for
our JV scrimmage against Ventura

Friday night, it was our turn to scrimmage.

NPHS Press Box

Field Goal Block Team

The Newbury Park JV Panthers wore their gold practice jerseys in the scrimmage.

Tavis Valenzuela Punting

Offensive Line Building a Wall

Connor "The Hatchet" Hobson
in Hot Pursuit

Nick Cellona busting a move

TD Andrew Noble

Coach Mike Contreras


As I mentioned earlier, Marianne's daughter Lucie spent time with us last Summer.

Joanne and Paul Sabolic opened up their home for Lucie to stay with them and their daughter Nicole for over a month last Summer before Lucie came to us. Their home was a great base of operations for Lucie who was attending classes at nearby California State University at Northridge.

On Saturday night we all got together at their home for a fun BBQ.

Marianne, Joanne and Nicole

They were GREAT hosts

The Sabolics are simply very good, down-to-earth people.

We need to see them more often.


Marianne is not afraid to pose

On Sunday, we trekked to Studio City to spend a fun afternoon touring the gigantic Universal Studios Theme Park.

It is a MUST on every visitor's list of things to do when visiting Los Angeles.

King Kong in the background

In line for  the Studio Tour

Being well organized and providing lots of misters to keep us cool made the wait time go by quickly.


We barely survived our tram being in the path of a Hollywood-style flash flood.

Don't panic, all the water gets pumped back up the hill in time for the next tram to experience danger up close.

Speaking of danger . . .


It came up right by Marianne's seat.

She screamed.

A lot.

Dr. Suess Movie Set

Plane Crash Set

Marianne at the Hollywood Sign

Sort of.

Marianne is a Simpsons fan

The Girls

I don't think that is
the way to spell it

Marge, Marianne and Homer

San Fernando Valley Vista

Women love men in uniforms

Laurie REALLY loves her Minions

Memories brought back by the
Universal Studios Park

Biker Chic

Beetlejuice and Frankenstein


I'm curious about what future
adventures are in store for us

Reading Is FUNdamental

In interesting look at many of Spain's cultural secrets from the lingering wounds of the Spanish Civil War to how the bikini saved Spain to Flamenco and much more.

A very interesting look at a country that we love visiting.