Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thun Tigers (1-1) at LUCAF Owls (2-0)

Hump Day: My current EuroBall assignment requires me to be away from Camarillo for 162 days. Today is Day 81 of my glorious time in Thun.

At midnight tonight, I reach the half way point of my 2012 Swiss American Football Odyssey. 

Swiss American Football League
NLB Week #6

Thun Tigers (1-1)
LUCAF Owls (2-0)

Once again, LUCAF stands for "Lausanne University Club American Football."

Today's game promised to be a tough one as LUCAF featured a tough running game and a defense that had yet to be scored upon.

 Lausanne has an awesome sports complex

Our game field in a forest 

They even had a Home Plate 

I guessed the right field foul line fence at a Los Angeles Coliseum-like 475 feet.

U-19 Game: LUCAF vs. Lugano 

It was a multi-lingual day in Lausanne.

LUCAF is from the western French speaking part of Switzerland.

Lugano is from the Italian speaking south of the nation.

Finally, in Thun we are German speaking.

It made for some interesting coaching conversations.

LUCAF won the pre-lim game 14-7 by the way.

For some mysterious reason, our U-19 team does not play LUCAF in the regular season.

Niklaus Rhyner's Opening Kickoff
sails into the End Zone 

This was one of our few first half highlights as LUCAF came out fired up and ready to play after three straight BYE weeks.

LUCAF's running game got rolling right away with two big runs deep into the Tiger's Red Zone. DT Patrick Schlauri made a huge tackle for loss in the Red Zone that eventually forced the Owls into trying a Field Goal attempt which fell short.

The Tigers caught a break as LUCAF was called for a penalty on Fourth Down to give Thun another set of downs but to no avail as the Tigers would punt again four plays later.

LUCAF was on the move again and this time finished their drive with a 10 yard slant pass for a TD. The PAT was good, LUCAF leads early 7-0.

The Tigers have the ball as the First Quarter ends with LUCAF ahead 7-0.

Once again, the LUCAF defense steps up to the challenge and forces Thun to punt.

A 40 yard sweep play sets up a a 5 yard TD run by the Owls also on a sweep. The PAT is good again, Owls up 14-0.

The Tigers' offense shows life until a bad shotgun snap, with an intentional grounding penaly tacked on, force another Thun punt.

The Tigers' defense forces a "Three and Out" punt by LUCAF.

The Tigers end the First Half with a punt. After two periods, LUCAF leads 14-0.

The Tigers are stopped again and punt after a "Three and Out" by the Owls' defense.

LUCAF returns the Tiger's booming punt 70 yards for a TD. The PAT is good as the Owls extend their lead to 21-0.

The Tigers First Down pass is intercepted.

The Thun defenses does not give up forcing a LUCAF fumble that SS Niklaus Rhyner recovers.

The Tigers put together a solid drive but are stopped on downs at the four yard line.

LUCAF fumbles due to a hard hit by FS Mario Wyssen, SS Niklaus Rhyner recovers his second fumble of the day.

FB Ruedi Bohren runs the ball in for a Tiger TD on the last play of the Third Quarter from the five yard line. Rhyner adds the extra point but LUCAF still leads

LUCAF is rolling again but the Thun defense comes up with a big Goal Line stand at the one yard line.

Another bad shotgun snap sails over the Tiger QB's head and out of the End Zone for a Safety. LUCAF now leads 23-7.

The Tigers' defense continures to play hard and stops the Owls' offense on downs.

The Thun offense moves the ball but eventually has to punt due to the rugged LUCAF defense.

LUCAF is driving at mid-field as the game comes to an end.

FINAL SCORE: LUCAF (3-0) 23 - Thun (1-2) 7

This was a very tough game for us mostly due to very good play by the LUCAF team, but I am very proud that the Tigers did not give up and fought to the very end.

I am especially pleased with the way our defense keeps coming back for more on each series coming up with big plays on the Goal Line week after week!

Our results and schedule the rest of the season are as follows:

March 25  BYE

April   1  Basel (5-0) 37 - Thun 20
April   8  BYE
April 15  Thun 6 - Luzern (2-3) 0
April 22  BYE
April 29  LUCAF (3-0) 23 - Thun 7

May   6  Thun at Basel (5-0)
May 13  Geneva (1-3) at Thun
May 20  Thun at Luzern (2-3)
May 27  BYE

June   3 LUCAF (5-0) at Thun
June 10  Thun at Geneva (1-3)
June 17 Fribourg (0-4) at Thun
June 23 Thun at Fribourg (0-4)

Time to re-group and gear up for #1 Basel (5-0) next Sunday.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

August in Bern in April

Yesterday, Friday, I had my first no camera/no pictures day in a long while. I would make up for it today in Bern.

Friday was a full American football day for me as the final Kicking Game depth chart and Play Call sheet for Sunday's game in Lausanne were at the top of my morning list.

After finishing that chore, I went on my daily walk into Thur to buy a few supplies only to find out two things.

First, Helvetica has great insulation that keeps my penthouse flat quite cool.

Secondly, IT WAS HOT OUTSIDE!!! 

One of the interesting things that I saw in both Sicily and Sweden, I observed again in Thun. That is that for many people this first warming trend of the year means nothing. While I was cursing the fact that I was wearing sweatpants, many of my Swiss brethren were still wearing their coats and scarves, oblivious to the warmth. It was definitely Spring at last.

Friday night was our usual combined Senior team and U-19 team practices. We had a decent turnout and the players worked very hard on all phases of the Kicking Game as well as reviewing our Offensive and Defensive game plans.

Our Senior practices have been a bit low in numbers the past two weeks due in large part to six Tiger players currently serving their annual Swiss Army Reserve duty time. All but one will be available for Sunday's game in Lausanne, thank goodness!  

Our opponents on Sunday are the 2-0 LUCAF Owls. LUCAF is an acronym for Lausanne University Club American Football.

Let's take a look at LUCAF's long march to their 2-0 record.
Week #1 LUCAF beats Fribourg (0-4) 13-0
Week #2 LUCAF wins 50-0 over Luzern (2-3)
Week #3 BYE
Week #4 BYE
Week #5 BYE
Week #6 Sunday, April 29, at home against Thun (1-1)

Three straight BYE weeks???

As for your Thun Tigers, here are our results to date.
Week #1 BYE
Week #2 We lost 37-20 to Basel (4-0)
Week #3 BYE
Week #4 We beat Luzern (2-3) 6-0
Week #5 BYE
Week #6 Sunday, April 29, at LUCAF (2-0)

Oh, the joys of being a EuroBall schedule maker.

Saturday was going to be another scorcher so I decided to head to Bern for the day where their museums are both wonderful and air conditioned!

The temperature in the Swiss capital reached every bit of 30ºC/86ºF! It was shorts, shirt and tennis shoes for me. Most of the Swiss followed suit while taking it one step further by opting for flip-flops.

Good fashion sense if you ask me.

Finding shade was my #1 priority 

Now inside these park gates, I was much cooler/ Bern has an upper and a lower part that runs along the Aare River's path. I headed for the river via . . .

The Drahtseilbahn Funicular 

 A pleasant flower shop

The Aare River flowing beneath
the Kirchenfeldbrüke bridge 

The Bundeshaus
Home of the Swiss Parliament 

It was very hot and a bit humid to boot, where would the locals go to beat the heat?

Some layed out in the Sun
or kicked a soccer ball in the shade

Others opted to eat or drink at a riverside café 

A canoe ride would be nice 

Some just sat and wet their feet in the
Aare River by the Bear Park (BärenPark)

As for me, a walk on a shady lane by the
Aare River was just fine

The end of my walk put me right smack dab at the BärenPark, a place that U-19 player John Güntensperger had warned me about months ago.

His words kept flashing across my mind, "No matter what, DON'T JUMP THE FENCE INTO THE BEAR'S SPACE!!!"

The Bear Park has four bears living in two large, but separated, hillside spaces.

Papa Bear lives alone

Mama Bear and one of her two cubs . . . 

The other cub was swimming on this hot day 

Smart cub!

Mama Bear and her swimming cub

It looked refreshing and I almost forgot John's warning.


Back to the shady lane

One old rock face for sure.

Now she is a bit less weather beaten

Hey, is that guy using a HAMMER?

Very powerful sculpture in front of the
Bern's Historical Museum 

The Bern Historical Museum also houses
the Albert Einstein Museum 

This was the place I wanted to be mostly for the Einstein Museum.

And partly for the AC.

Every museum should have a
working Guillotine to greet you

Nice mural at the Museum's entrance

Good pick by Time magazine

They are still hurting over their "Man-of the-Year" pick for 1938.

Adolf Hitler.

Einstein's U.S. Citizenship Papers 

I enjoyed seeing the exhibits about Einsteins life and his works. As you may recall, he lived in Bern working as a Patent Clerk. It was here that he experienced his "Wonder Year" in 1905 when he published many of the revolutionary ideas that made him famous.

A young boy, a lion and a woman with
a wardrobe malfunction 

Helvetia holding the Swiss Constitution 

Why the long face? 

Intense Face 

Hey, is that guy using a HAMMER?

Maybe I could do that with my beard  

St. Andrew the Apostle

Always a crowd pleaser.

St. James the Apostle

Santiago himself including the clam shell on the brim of his cap.

The Tortures of Hell

The Bern Canton Crest

New look Thun Tiger football helmet 

We will premiere them to the public tomorrow.


Nice field and track located underneath the Kirchenfeldbrücke Bridge.

Flying flags on a glorious day

Hey, is that snake using a HAMMER?

Hey, is that snake using a HAMMER?

Everybody in Bern agrees, the
2012 Baltimore Orioles are a joke 

Reading is FUNdamental

This was my first Robert Crais book, I liked it very much.

Let me be the first to say it, if Joe Pike, Jack Reacher and Raylan Givens got together, they could clean up the mean streets of Thun in about six action packed hours.

Maybe six minutes, it is pretty quiet here.

Game Day

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thursday in Geneva

Travel Thursday!

I was off to the last major Swiss city that I had yet to visit . . .

Geneva in English  

With 189,000 inhabitants, it is the second biggest Swiss city trailing only Zürich, population of 342,000 souls.

It was only about two hours by train

Geneva's GREAT cantonal flag

Geneva is a good city
if you need to buy a watch

Not real 

And next to Geneva's Tourist Information Office. Oh, the shame of it all!

The Jet d'Eau

On the Rhône River's Rive Gauche (South Bank), this pencil fountain, built in 1951, is shooting a plume of water 140 meters/460 feet into the Swiss sky!

At any moment, a colossal SEVEN TONS of water is in the air propelled at 200 kilometer/125 miles per hour by a 1,360 horsepower engine that rockets 500 liters/113 gallons of water per second into the heavens.

It is indeed "The World's Largest Fountain."

It does not look that big from this side of Lake Geneva.

I better take a closer look by first walking through . . .

Jardin Anglais

The "English Garden" is Geneva's flowery lakeside park on the  that was first landscaped in 1854. 

It has a gazebo and the . . .

Horloge Fleurie

This "Floral Clock" was created in 1955 and is crafted of over 6,500 living flowers. It boasts "The World's Longest Second Hand," at a length of 2.5 meters/8 feet-3 inches, which is currently spearing me in the back. 

A Paris-style fountain
in the Jardin Anglais

Jet d'Eau up close 

Damn! It is big!!!

For perspective, note the man standing at the end of the walk way to the right of the base of the Jet d'Eau.

Fountain Head Art is . . .

Always a favorite of mine 

"Kevin and Jacob,

A typical Genevan outdoor café

It looked inviting but I opted first to go further into Geneva's old town, the Vieille Ville, in search of Geneva's Cathédrale St-Pierre.

Let's go that-a-way 

The path led uphill to any area of the Vieille Ville also known as the "Protestant Rome" because during the Reformation, John Calvin and John Knox, amongst other Protestant leaders, took refuge here.

Genevan roof tops as I continue my climb 

A classic Mini-Cooper

And an excuse to stop, take a picture and catch my breath!

 The Camino de Santiago's Swiss Route

Ah, the memories . . .

The Cathédrale St-Pierre 

Built between 1160 and 1230, it is a hodge-podge of styles. While basically Gothic, it has early Romanesque elements and this Neo-Classical portal that was added in the 18th century that just does not work for me.

It was built as a Catholic Cathedral

In 1536, it became a Protestant church, losing most of its lavish Catholic decorations due to the new teachings of men like Martin Luther, Calvin and Knox.

But it still has a sparkling
new looking organ!

St. Andrew 

The Tomb of Henri de Rohan

Buried in the Cathédrale, he was the head of the Reformed Church in France in the 16th and 17th centuries.

St. Andrew again!

He is BIG in Geneva it appears.

John Calvin's Chair

Calvin called for many radical reforms in the Church and preached several sermons in this Cathédrale reputedly while sitting in this very chair. 

Ornately carved prayer stalls 

Masterpieces of Romanesque and
Gothic stonework 

Dragons in the Cathédrale 

Somebody call St. George!!!

It was a beautiful Cathédrale to be sure, but it was time to move on.

As a Catholic I decided it was best NOT
to tempt John Calvin's wrath any further

Even his beard was trying to get me to go to the Reformation Museum!

A typical Vieille Ville street scene  

Cannons to the right of me . . .

I'm hungry

Next to the Cathédrale St-Pierre 

A paper thin ham and Roquefort cheese crepe with a Coke Zero filled the bill for my delicate stomach.

While dining al fresco, I was reminded that

The view of the Cathédrale St-Pierre
while I ate my crepes 

Fountain Flowers at the
Place du Bourg-de-Four 

This square was the site of Geneva's market place in the Middle Ages. Today is is full of art galleries, antique shops, cafés, up-scale eating places and this fountain.

Door art at a lawyer's office 

Nice Knocker

Stars of David and a Crescent. hmmm . . .

Seen better days . . .

This one too

We need Richard Bellman to the rescue, STAT!!!

I wonder how things are going
in North Las Vegas?

Eerie Tree 

The Rhône River flowing out of Lake Geneva 

Lake Geneva is known as Lac Léman in these parts, the Rhône flows into the Mediterranean Sea via Lyon, France.

This medallion means but one thing,
an expensive restaurant awaits within

The Brunswick Monument

I saw no apparent connection to the wonderful world of bowling here.

It was a GREAT day indeed!!!

This got me to wonder . . .

Who picked Baylor's Heisman Trophy winning QB, Robert Griffin III, in Thursday's First Round of the 2012 NFL Draft? 

Canella and Stracciatella

Delicious, but not as big as Catania gelato cones and much more expensive.

Art at a playground 

An Irish stronghold in Geneva

First they got immunity, now this!

Palais des Nations 

This is the United Nations base in Geneva.

It is the world's largest conference center for international peace and security matters. It was built between 1929 and 1936 to house the new League of Nations efforts after World War I. The League of Nations was founded in 1919 with a goal to maintain peace throughout the globe thus avoiding another World War.

According to the History Channel, it did not work out for them.

Damn that Hitler fellow!

In 1946, because of their failure to stop World War II, the League of Nations was dissolved to make way for the new United Nations.

"The Broken Chair"

Located across the street from this entrance to the U.N. compound, this 12 meter/39 foot tall wooden chair is a powerful peace symbol.

It was sculpted by Swiss artist Daniel Berset and was placed here in 1997 as a symbol against anti-personnel land mines at a time when the world was joining together to agree to sign the simply named Mine Ban Treaty.

The lost leg symbolizes what so many land
mine victims suffer if they are not killed. 

This entrance to the U.N. was not for visitors, that required a bit of a hike but afforded a few nice sights along the way.

Musée l'Ariana

This is the Swiss Museum of Ceramics and Glass.

I passed, I was on a peace keeping mission!

Fish out of water

I finally got to the U.N. Visitors Entrance, presented my passport and was issued the proper credentials for my visit.

My Official United Nations ID Badge

It was time for the 4:00 p.m., hour long United Nations Guided Tour in English.

Small Conference Room

The ceiling is an undersea motif as the Spanish architect who designed the room loves the ocean.

The U.N.'s newest delegate? 

A fun time at an A-Bomb Blast 

Various countries have donated works of art to be permanently displayed at the U.N.'s Geneva home base.

Our Outgoing Tour Guide

A gift from the Chinese government.

The immaculate grounds
of the United Nations 

This is the biggest of the
U.N.'s Conference Rooms 

It seats over 2,000 people comfortably 


This is a leftover from the Palais des Nations' League of Nations days. The League was so disfunctional that they could never even agree to an official name. In America, we always refer to it as the League of Nations, other countries called it the Society of Nations.

Thus, amid their agreement to disagree, the woodworkers carved these "Ns" on a railing with an "L" on one side and an "S" on the other.

Somebody invade Poland please.

Globe Pottery

Mahatma Gandhi

A very appropriate statue just outside of the United Nations compound and across the street from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum.

So, I have now visited Basel, Bern, Chur, Geneva, Gimmelwald, Interlaken, the Jungfrau, Lausanne, Lauterbrunnen, Luzern, Meiringen, Montreaux, Mürren, Murten, Spiez and Zürich.

Additionally, of course, I live in the heart and soul of the Bernese Oberland in beautiful Thun!

While living and traveling to 20 different European countries while coaching four seasons of American football has given me a wealth of amazing experiences and friends, I must say that if I had to pick just one place to live as an ex-pat in Europe, it would definitely be Switzerland.

Plus, I would still be close enough to visit friends in Sicily and Sweden. Which reminds me, I have got to make some travel plans.