Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Our EuroBall Adventure Continues in . . .
I apologize for the mix in styles and colors on this post as what I write and what is posted are NOT matching up for some unknown reason!?!?!?
After our 2015 seasons at Newbury Park H.S. ended, first with our JV team's 42-32 victory over the Thousand Oaks Lancers to win a second consecutive Camino League Championship and then with the Panthers' Varsity squad losing 53-47 to the currently 12-0 Bishop Diego Cardinals in the first round of the C.I.F.-Southern Section's Northern Division playoffs, it was time to consider the future.
Laurie and I talked it over and we decided that we were good for one more shot at coaching a team in EuroBall, but only under certain conditions.
The first caveat was that we did not want to have too much time away from our family members -- especially the three grandchildren.
Our previous coaching adventures had us living on the Continent for long stretches of time.
In Italy, we thoroughly enjoyed the life in wonderful Catania, Sicily for seven months in 2008 and for six months in 2009.
Our back-to-nature urges then led us seven great months in peaceful Hässleholm, Sweden in 2010.
A desire to be more centrally located on the European Continent then placed us in Thun, Switzerland for five and a half months in 2012. As it turned out, the incredibly beautiful landscapes of this penultimate alpine country made traveling to other countries not necessary as there was just so much to explore and experience in this relatively small country.
Next on our hit list was the chance to live in the "Food Capital of France." Our eight months during the 2012-13 season in friendly Lyon were amongst the best of our lives as we met so many great people and fell in love with both French culture and, strangely, French cuisine. OK, maybe not so strangely as I have been known to eat from time-to-time. Having a 12-0, Division III French National Championship season was another highlight.
Finally, we journeyed to Murcia, Spain in December of 2014 to take part in the laid back lifestyle of our family's home country for six months. The tough part of this assignment was not being home for the Holidays with any of our family members, including Laurie.
So, with this as background, Laurie and I were looking for a team in a country whose season would need to meet five basic requirements:
1. Their season needs to start after the Holidays.
2. The team needs to be willing to hire me to come and start training the team only about 25 practices (usually two months in most EuroBall situations, i.e., three practices/week) before their first game.
3. Their season needs to be compact and not overburdened with too many bye weeks.
4. The team/country in question needs to be in a part of Europe where we have not traveled extensively.
5. The team we are looking for should be one wanting a heavy dose of fundamentals.
So, could we find such a situation?
DRUM ROLL PLEASE . . .
Why, YES WE DID!!!
Do you not recognize their country's flag?
WE'RE GOING TO POLAND!!!
Castles . . . CHECK!
Museums . . . CHECK!
Communist Architecture . . . CHECK!
Fascinating History . . . CHECK!
Hiking . . . CHECK!
Hearty food . . . CHECK!
Nightlife . . . CHECK!
Folk Culture . . . CHECK!
Poland is highlighted in
blue on this EuroMap
Our only previous sojourn into Poland came when we visited beautiful Kraków for a few blistering Summer days back in 2010.
We found the Poles that we met then to be friendly and we thoroughly enjoyed the historic sights, the good food and the concerts in churches that we had the chance to experience.
Many Travel Opportunities
We had NOT visited any of the countries immediately East or South of Poland, save a day each in Tallinn, Estonia and St. Petersburg, Russia on cruise ship stops in the Summer of 2010.
Poland is a BIG country
Did you know that approximately 38,163,000 people live in Poland? That is about the population of California, the United States' most populated state.
Did you know that Poland's 120,728 square miles makes it the largest country in central Europe? That is about the same size as the state of New Mexico, the United States' fifth largest state.
OK, but WHERE in Poland?
We are going to be way up in the North of Poland in the Baltic seacoast city of Gdańsk, population 456,000 mostly Roman Catholic souls.
During the times when Germany ruled this part of what is now Poland, Gdańsk was known as Danzig. The city, by either name, is rich in maritime history that includes having been a key member of the economically powerful, 13th century trading concern, the Hanseatic League.
So, with tons of history, Baltic beaches, castles, Hitler's Wolf's Lair, lakes, awe inspiring mountains, National Parks and myriad culturally rich cities, towns and villages, Poland seemed to be a natural outlet for our wanderlust.
OK, but how about the
American football in Poland?
The Polska Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego, PLFA for short, has divided the sport of full tackle, American football for adult males into three divisions composed of a total of 39 squads.
During the recently completed 2015 season, the best eight clubs were placed in the PLFA's elite Topliga. You won't find me in this league in 2016.
In 2015, PLFA I was made up of Poland's next best ten teams that compete in two five team conferences. Nope, I won't be coaching a team here either.
Finally, PLFA II was composed of the 21 squads that were divided into four conferences. PLFA II is for teams that either need to regroup before elevating themselves to PLFA I or are new teams just beginning to get a feel for the game.
A big attraction for us of the 2015 PLFA II season is that the six game, regular season started on July 19 and ended on September 13. The PLFA II Playoffs go into October. Six games in slightly less than two Summer months, practices in late Spring . . .
YES INDEED, this is the spot for me!
But with which PLFA II team could I cast my lot for 2016?
Enter the . . .
Wikingowie is Polish for Vikings
The 2015 season was the first one in Wikingowie history with predictable results.
The Wikingowie went 1-5 in their inaugural campaign competing in the five team Północno-Zachodnia Conference.
Our favorite Polish club was outscored by 104 points in the six contests. As a result, the Wikingowie finished in the Conference's cellar.
We've got a LOT of growing to do in 2016!
The PLFA II 2016 schedule will be announced in the near future as well as any Conference alignment changes.
The map of the location of
2015's 21 PLFA II teams
Of interest, the four PLFA II Conferences are based with cost saving, economic regional interests in mind.
TAKE NOTE SPAIN DII!!!
The Wikingowie's 2015 Schedule
So how did the Wikingowie's 2015 season progress? Here are the team's results:
July 19, Dragons 24 at Wikingowie 12
July 25, at Dragons 34 - Wikingowie 0
August 15, Griffons 18 at Wikingowie 6
August 29, Wikingowie 18 at Griffons 0
September 6, Patrioci 20 at Wikingowie 0
September 13, at Archers 50 - Wikingowie 6
Północno-Zachodnia Conference Standings
1. Zielona Góra Dragons 5-1 (+135 point difference)
2. Poznań Patrioci 4-2 (+35 p.d.)
3. Bydgoszcz Archers 4-2 (+22 p.d.)
4. Słupsk Griffons 1-5 (-88 p.d.)
5. Gdańsk Wikingowie 1-5 (-104 p.d.)
Each of the top two teams from the four PLFA II Conferences moved on at season's end to the playoffs.
Our Conference Champion Zielona Góra Dragons beat the Radom Green Ducks 52-45 in round one before losing to the Warszowa Dukes 22-55 in the semi-finals. The Dragons finished the season with a 6-2 record.
The Patrioci (4-3) lost their first round playoff game 0-22 to the Warszowa Dukes.
In the PLFA II championship game, the Wrocław Outlaws (9-0) defeated the Warszowa Dukes (8-1) 22-0.
A HUGE plus for the Wikingowie is the 52 man roster that was on hand for the recently completed campaign. If they will all return and are willing to learn and work hard, then it can be truly said . . .
"IT'S GREAT TO BE A WIKINGOWIE!!!"
Reading Is FUNdamental
If you are a Holmes fan, which I am, then you will find this tome to be of great interest!
This book is an intertwining of the history, fiction, myth and the realities of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Dr. John Watson, dozens of nefarious villains, heaps of interesting Victorian characters and, of course, Sherlock Holmes himself.
The fun of this book is tracing the various incarnations of Holmes in literature, the stage, radio, television and the cinema while pondering why, 130 years after their creation, all of these characters still work on so many levels, languages, cultures, continents and decades.
Another dark read from Norway's great mystery writer Jo Nesbø. It is a quick read but, while not up to Nesbø's Harry Hole series of thrillers, is still worth it if you are into Scandinavian crime fiction.
And I am.