Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Jacob's Baptism Weekend

We enjoyed a great weekend as our grandson Jacob was being baptized at Santa Clara Catholic Church in Oxnard. This initial religious milestone in Jacob's life translated into three days of family, friends and fun!

On Friday afternoon Andy, Jenn and Kevin (Tank) arrived from their home in North Las Vegas.

Tank and Grandpa  

Have a Seat

This chair was actually made by Laurie's Dad Bill for her when she was Kevin's age.

That's an old chair!

Tank and Uncle Mike 

Uncle Mike wants Kevin
to be a Kicker

But Kevin knows that Reading Is FUNdamental!!!

"So Jacob,
let me tell you about Cheerios."

Cousins Jacob and Kevin meeting for the first time. They hit it off nicely I thought.

We fed the babies and ourselves and had a nice mini-reunion Friday night.

Saturday morning it was time for the Main Event.

Jacob was decked out
for the special occasion

Pre-Baptism Instructions 

Jacob was very patient during
all of the shenanigans 

Holding on to Daddy's tie
during the dousing 

Proud Papa 

Mike, Jacob and Vanessa 

Great Day! 

With all the Grandparents 

With Great Grandmother Chuny
and Great Great Aunt Katie

After the ceremonies and the numerous photo ops, about 40 of us retired to Mike, Vanessa and Jacob's condo for more good times.


We all had a good time sharing the moment and rekindling acquaintences. We were loud but . . .

Jacob fell asleep

. . . as did Kevin

Great Aunt Linda and Jacob

VERY Happy Grandma Laurie 

"I REALLY like these people!"

So do I Kevin, so do I.

Sunday morning called for the usual Cronies breakfast stop before bidding adieu to the North Las Vegas contingent.

Kids love it when the wristwatch
alarm goes off 

Keeping a wary eye on Tank.
He can strike without notice! 

We had a fantastic family oriented three days and next weekend we will head to North Las Vegas to do it all again for Kevin's first birthday party.


Sunday Night at
California Lutheran University 

On Sunday night, Laurie and I drove up to Thousand Oaks to attend the 16th Season of CLU's Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival.

Each Summer CLU puts on two of the Bard's plays. The first one this year was Much Ado About Nothing which ran while we were still in Europe.

We went to see Romeo and Juliet with a timely twist in our view. Instead of Verona, Italy the setting was changed to Granada, Spain after the Reconquista.

Since we had just visited Granada less than two weeks ago, it made it even more enjoyable for us.

In CLU's adaptation, the Capulet family were part of the conquering Catholics while the Montaques were vanquished Moors.

The Alhambra?

Hot blooded Moor Benvolio

A Good Sword Fighting Scene!

For the second straight year, we enjoyed another great night under the stars watching a very good production.

Finally . . .

My European Experience
on a T-shirt

I got this picture from our friend Matteo Belfiore in Sicily via Facebook.

It pretty much sums up all that you need to know about about religion and the reason to lead a good, honorable life.

I need a XXL please.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Adventure Continues in France . . .

Over the weekend Laurie and I made a big decision after consulting various members of our family and agreed to return to Europe for another season of EuroBall, this time in France.

Here is a link to a very kind comment on our decision to coach in France which apears on Olivier Rival's French Football Blog http://elitefoot.blogspot.com/

Our New Team 

Bron and Villeurbanne are both suburbs of France's third largest city, Lyon.

The fact that Lyon is considered to be the Gastronomic Capital of France may have entered into my decision making process.

The process of accepting this job was a long one.

I first met Julien Urgenti, who is a former Falcon player and coach, on line about a year ago. After corresponding for several weeks last Summer he sent me his playbook to review, which I happily did, making just a few minor suggestions to a well written document.

We continued to talk football throughout the following months as he started a football blog for French coaches to learn more about the game. He even asked me to write an introductory article for his blog on the 3-5-3 defense.

You can find Julien's French football blog at http://jecoachejepartage.blogspot.com/

During the early part of April, while the Thun Tigers had a few days off for Easter, Julien invited me down to Lyon for a few days to visit Lyon, attend a Falcons' practice, and talk a lot of football. We really hit it off well.

With Julien in Lyon last April

We kept in contact via Facebook for the next few months and when Laurie arrived in Switzerland in June, Julien again invited the two of us to come to Lyon after our season was over.

We were planning on visiting Avignon already, so the stopover for a day in Lyon was a natural stop.

This time, we were joined by the Falcons' President Christophe Thuau for another round of great cuisine and a guided tour of this splendid city with which Laurie fell instantly in love.

Again, we all talked a lot about football during our time together and found that our approach to the game and organizational ideas really meshed.

Christophe and Julien in June

One thing led to another and eventually they offered me the Falcons' Head Coaching job for the 2012-13 season.

As I stated earlier, I wanted to discuss this with our family face-to-face, not over the phone, before making a final decision. The past week those meetings were held and they all said to GO FOR IT!!! 

So, we are -- thanks to their support!

Fédération Française de Football Américain

The Falcons were a Division III team during the recently completed 2011-12 season, and as far as I know will be one again in 2012-13.

There is some talk that the team might be moved up to Division II next season, but I am told that the odds of this happening get smaller each day.

The Division III season is a long one that would require me to leave for Lyon at the end of September. I would be able to return for one month for the Christmas/New Year holidays. The regular season ends in April and we plan on making a deep playoff run if we are still in Division III that could take the season into June.

During the 2011-12 season, Division III was made up of 39 clubs that were first divided into North and South Conferences.

The North was made up of 23 teams while the South, where the Falcons compete, was comprised of 16 squads.

Each Conference was divided into four pools (aka Poule). Bron-Villeurbanne competed in the four team Division III Sud Poule C. The Falcons played each of the other three teams in Poule C twice.

In 2011-12 Poule C was made up of the following teams:

 Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons

 Chambéry Aigles

 Lyon Gones

 Valence Sharks

The scheduled also called for one game with each of the four Division III Sud Poule D teams to complete a ten game regular season.

In 2011-12 Poule D was made up of the following teams:

 Avignon Warriors

 Draguignan Dragons Noir

 Marseilles Blue Stars

 Perpignan Archanges

The top two teams from each of the eight Poules nationwide advance to the four game playoff.


This Recruiting Poster must be working as we have over 200 licensed players on the roster.

In fact, the Seniors, over 21 years of age, have so many athletes that we are going to have two teams competing so that more players can get playing time and have a chance to develop.

As you can see from the poster, the Falcons have a Junior team for players aged 16-21 and a Cadet and a Minimes team for even younger athletes.

We even have a cheerleading squad.

Oui, Oui!

Senior Success 

The 2011-12 season was a good one for the Falcons as the team finished as Champions of Poule C with a record of 10-2.

Both losses were to the Avignon Warriors who won the Division III French National Championship in 2011-12.

Here are the Falcons' results for 2011-12. Take note of the dates for the first four games. Yes, only four games in the first four months of the season.

Nov. 20, 2011 at Lyon Gones, won 20-0 (1-0)
Dec. 3, at Chambéry Aigles won 22-2 (2-0)
Jan. 22, 2012 vs. Avignon Warriors lost 0-7 (2-1)
Feb. 26, at Perpignan Archanges won 17-14 (3-1)
Mar. 4, at Draguignan Dragons Noir won 41-14 (4-1)
Mar. 18, vs. Lyon Gones won 16-3 (5-1)
Mar. 25, vs. Marseille Blue Stars won 18-0 (6-1)
Apr. 1, vs. Chambréy Aigles won 20-8 (7-1)
Apr. 15, at Valence Sharks won 18-0 (8-1)
Apr. 22, vs. Valence Sharks w0n 18-0 (9-1)
Apr. 29, vs. Marseille Blue Stars won 20-14 (10-1)*
May 13, vs. Avignon Warriors lost 21-26 (10-2)**
* Division III Playoff Game
** Division III Quarterfinal Playoff Game


Let the Hard Work BEGIN!!!

It's going to be A GOOD YEAR!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Week Home

Dealing with the jet lag was tough this past week with several 4:00 a.m. wake-ups but I am now pretty much back on West Coast time.

Besides unpacking, laundry and getting used to our old surroundings yet again, it was a week of family time as we drove down to San Marino to visit my Mother and Aunt Katica who were both delightful on Sunday.

The majority of the last few days has been spent getting better acquainted with our grandson Jacob.

But first . . .

An American football fix

Our son Mike is a coach at nearby Newbury Park H.S. and the Panther staff was starting a four day camp for Pop Warner players on Monday night.

Thus I joined Mike, in the black shorts in the middle in this picture, coaching tackling techniques.

Part of the NPHS
Take-Away Circuit 

I had not been on a practice field in almost three weeks. It was good to get back out there!

In the final analysis, most of the week was spent with . . .


He falls asleep in strange places

He seems to like colors

Fatherly Advice

Discussing Male Pattern Baldness 

We all silently pray that Jacob's Grandpa Tito's hair gene is alive and well in little Jacob.

Jolly Jump Up Time

Jacob's first spoonful of solid food

It was rice cereal for babies.

"What the Hell was that?"


Discussing the relative success
of this particular feeding

Jacob has been great fun these last few days and Vanessa and Mike are doing a splendid job with him.

Friday we will be doubling our fun as Andy and Jenn will be arriving from Las Vegas with our not-so-little first grandson, Kevin, to celebrate Jacob's baptism on Saturday.

This is going to be FUN!!!

Reading is FUNdamental!!!

A very good read!!!

This book, written by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is just downright excellent! I now have to read more of this fine Spanish writer's work.

I'm very glad that I bought this good read in Madrid to enjoy on our trip through Andalisia last week!