Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Good Day for Practice

We had sunshine today and a slight warming trend, good news indeed!

Blue Skies in the Vieux Lyon

John and I met with our Offensive Coordinator Julien Urgenti for lunch today in the St-Just district of Lyon. The main purpose of the meeting was to continue solidifying our offensive playbook.

The hidden agenda was all about another great French meal at Sophie's where our host Olivier really goes out of his way to both entertain and take care of us.

Nothing like his Tête de Veau of a few months ago but still a delicious beef lunch prepared masterfully by Olivier's father with a good bottle of red wine, a plate of assorted cheeses, dessert and a couple of Olivier's smoking hot liqueurs and I was raring to hit the practice field.

Or maybe take a nap.

Olivier blow torching my
Crème Brûlée at our table

I must tell you that this was worthy of the recent World Championships of Pastry Making that the French team won over the weekend!

The very strong goat cheese to top off our cheese plate deserved special notice as well.

After saying adieu to Julien who had to return to work after his two hour lunch break, John and I worked our way to Lyon's ancient Roman Amphitheatre.

John surveying the ruins

We then walked the short distance to Notre Dame Basilica only to find most of it closed for renovations.

The View of Lyon from the Basilica
was still open for all to admire

As were about to head back to The Villa, we got a call from TE Geoff Moultan. He had rounded up four other players and they wanted to meet with John at a local park to run pass routes for about two hours.

I took this as a good sign.

In the evening, it was time for the Cadets and Juniors to get together. Some said that it was for a couple of practices while others thought of the occasion as a four hour fashion show.

These pink and black socks will
be all the rage this season

"I'm Batman!!!"

Multi-Hued Practice Gear

I am happy to report that we had a very good Cadet workout and an excellent Junior practice tonight. The Junior team's offensive line was particularly outstanding in the night's second practice.

Finally, Olivier Rival who runs the national blog about the entire French American Football scene, wrote a nice article on our new QB. You can link to it at:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

First Senior Practice with VDR

Tuesday was an organizational day for the Falcons as well as our first Senior team practice with John van den Raadt at the helm.

A lunch meeting with the Falcons' Brain Trust yielded us a new perspective on our approach to the B team, a more solid grasp of our offensive playbook's concepts and a Special Teams Captain.

Steven "The Gypsy" Berthomier is a defensive back who also coaches our Cadet team. He is the kind of hard working, great attitude young man that every coach loves to have on his team. It is because of these attributes that we picked him to be our first Special Teams Captain.

As with many things in EuroBall, we did hit a bump in the road today. It was nothing that good old Falcon pride could not overcome with a bit of effort. It became evident that we did not have shoulder pads to fit John and we needed a face mask, chin strap and a cheek pad to make his helmet complete.

Thus, John joined our Falcon President Christophe Thuau and TE Geoff Moultan for the drive to Grenoble to a store that sells the items that VDR needed.

QB John van den Raadt with
RB Brice Rontet at his side

At practice tonight the energy was high and the work load was heavy. That proved to be a good recipe for improvement by our squad. We could have used a few more players at linebacker though.

We do not have our next game until the a week from this Saturday so that gives us three more opportunities to become a better team in preparation for our next opponents, the 0-3 Clermont-Ferrand Servals.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tour Guiding in Lyon

Monday was a raw but exciting day to reintroduce myself to Lyon while acting as Tour Guide for our new QB, John van den Raadt (VDR).

Near the Gare de Perrache 

This woman  and her child approached us tentatively in asking for a photo op with VDR.

On Place Bellecour

This woman was WAY more brazen!!!

The Fountain near the Hotel de Ville 

Trees in Winter

These are located in the courtyard of the Palace of Fine Arts.

 Los Angeles Rams fan sighting

This Junior team player won my confidence quickly by showing up to practice tonight in a vintage Jim Everett jersey.

 We call him "Frenchie"

It looks like our youngest grandson may be joining a Basque Separatist movement.

It was a good day today in Lyon as the battle versus jet lag is in full conflagration mode.

Our two Cadet and Junior squad practices were both solid. VDR  is showing himself to be very gifted athlete, a good teacher to the younger players and a great teammate. This could become a very good season.

Sometimes patience and a little luck are the real  keys to success!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Back in Lyon and Playing

Friday night I met our new Falcon QB, John van den Raadt, at the Los Angeles International Airport to migrate back to France for the second half of our 2012-13 American football season.

After six great weeks in Southern California and Nevada visiting family and friends, it was time to get back to work.

I need to, as always, thank our son Mike for his incredible ability to pack my carry-on bag. It is the only one that I was taking back to Lyon and he did a masterful job of packing so much into so little.

Our Air France plane departed on time at 9:30 p.m. for the ten hour flight to Paris. We were fortunate that our four seat row had two empty seats thus allowing us to spread out and make for a very comfortable voyage. Air France had individual TVs for each passenger with several movie, TV show and music options which certainly made the time go by much more quickly.

Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport

There was some snow on the ground and it was a chilly 3ºC/37ºF in Paris. We had plenty of time to comfortably make our connection with the 50 minute Air France flight to Lyon.

My first Pain Chocolate of 2013

Buying and consuming it were literally the first things I did upon arriving at Lyon's Saint-Exupéry Airport.

John van den Raadt and Julien Urgenti

It was only 1ºC/33ºF in Lyon but VDR still opted for the California look by wearing his shorts to dinner. We hooked up with a number of the Falcons who were anxious to meet John. When they saw him in shorts, they were not sure if he was crazy or tough.

His eyes here may have made him look a tad crazy, but I opted for tough.

We finally got to The Villa and after unpacking and calling family back in California, we called it a day at about midnight.

We needed to get some rest as we were scheduled to meet the Falcon B team at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday for the 90 minute drive to Grenoble and a Division IV contest against the Centaurs' B team.

We awoke early enough to check out our local boulangerie for a coffee and a pain chocolate each. We, of course, also bought a fresh baguette to scarf down at a time to be named later.

On to Grenoble!!!

The Centaurs' Snack Bar

They had a limited menu, featuring hot dogs, coffee, soft drinks and champagne.


Only in France.

I must note that a hot dog stuffed into a fresh, hard crusted half baguette is a marvelous improvement over the traditional hot dog in a bun!

No champagne for me though, I was coaching.

 Falcons B team in white

To review, this is our developmental club made up of Senior players (21 and older) who lack experience in the game of American football. This group went 1-3 before Christmas and has already lost several key players who have been promoted to the Senior A team.

Falcons on Defense

I was very pleased with the overall effort of our defense on this day as turnovers and an ineffectual offense put them on the field in bad field position for most of the brisk afternoon.

After a 0-0 First Quarter, the Centaurs exploded for three TDs to take a 20-0 lead at the intermission.

After regrouping, the Falcons had played in a scoreless Third Quarter but were still trailing 20-0. The Fourth Quarter was a tough one as the men from Bron-Villeurbanne tired and the Centaurs tallied two more TDs to win the game by a Final Score of 32-0.

We plan to tour the main sights of Lyon on Monday in the morning and early afternoon. John and I have to gear up for two practices from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday night with the Falcons' Cadet and Junior squads.

Back in the saddle again.

Meanwhile, in our Senior A team's Division III league, one Week #4 make-up game was played today.

Division III - Sud Poule C

Week #4 Make-Up Games Result
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Chambéry 10 - Clermont Ferrand 0
St-Cergues at Bron-Villeurbanne to be played February 17
BYE: Lyon

St-Cergues Bulldogs 3-0
Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons 2-0
Chambéry Aigles 1-2
Lyon Les Gones 1-2
Clermont-Ferrand Servals 0-3

Week #5 Games
Friday, February 8, 2013
Chambéry (1-2) at Lyon (1-2)
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Bron-Villeurbanne (2-0) at Clermont-Ferrand (0-3)
BYE: St-Cergues (3-0)

Jet lag continues to ravage my body, time for bed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekend in North Las Vegas

We decided to spend my last weekend before returning to Lyon, France in North Las Vegas visiting Andy, Jenn and Kevin, a.k.a., Tank.

Almost to the desert oasis that is
Baker, California!

Laurie is a not-so-secret admirer
of the Big Boy 

Lunch in Baker is trés chic!

Baker is about 3 1/2 hours from Camarillo and about 90 minutes from North Las Vegas.

 Kevin greeted us in his
mini-bounce house

Political discussions in the Blue Room 

Nice shoes 

Architecture melting in the desert sun

It is actually the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health  designed, not surprisingly by Frank Gehry. It is located near the Las Vegas Fremont Experience.

Kevin and I decided to camp out
on Friday night

No, it is NOT my hat!


We ate like kings!

Saturday afternoon at the park

 Gear Head

 Oooh, a slide!


Kevin in action on the slide

 Madonna, Child and Soccer Ball

The Wonder of Childhood

Tunnel Time

 "This is FUN!!!"

A boy and his wagon

Kevin's Minions do his bidding

Laurie and Kevin

We had a marvelous time in the desert. I will miss them greatly for the next five months, to say the least.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Meet John van den Raadt

Bright and early on Thursday morning, Laurie and I loaded up the PT Cruiser once more for another fun filled trip to Las Vegas to visit Andy, Jenn and our grandson Kevin.

We thought that this would be the perfect time to meet our new Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons QB John van den Raadt who lives somewhere in the Inland Empire which is on our way to Sin City.

We decided to meet for breakfast in Fontana at the Wendy's in the appropriately named Falcon Ridge Shopping Center.

On the two hour drive out to meet them our sports talk radio had only one topic of discussion. That was of course was the just breaking story of Notre Dame University All-American linebacker Manti Te'o and the hoax of his having a fake girlfriend that the media had reported dying during the past season.

Thus Laurie and I were both excited when John entered Wendy's with his real flesh and blood girlfriend of over two years, Robin Portela. We found her to be a smart and outgoing young lady,  so the Falcons can rest assured that there will be no girlfriend hoax in our futures!

Robin Portela and John van den Raadt

As for John, our meeting left me feeling very positive about the rest of our season in France. There are people in life that you meet and just hit it off with instantly, knowing that this is a good person to have in your camp.

John is one of those people.

After all of the craziness that has been a part of trying to bring an import QB to the Falcons, I think that our long wait has been worth it.

Besides outstanding football credentials from his playing days at nearby Azusa Pacific University, John is also a caring person. He just returned to Southern California this week after serving on a mission the past six months teaching at a school with his brother Nick in the South African Republic of Malawi.

All of the Falcons are excited to have
John joining us for the stretch drive!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Week in Sunny, Chilly Southern California

The past few days have been fairly quiet as we continue to meet with friends and visit some of our favorite haunts before heading back to Lyon, France next week.

 A little wine at lunch with Laurie
is always a good option

 As is babysitting Jacob on Wednesdays

A Wednesday basketball game at
Rio Mesa against Oxnard was yet
another good choice 

The Spartans, in white, won thanks
to a strong second half effort

Jacob with Great Grandmother
Chuny last Sunday

We loaded up the PT Cruiser and drove to San Marino to visit "The Ladies" last Sunday.

Great-Great Aunt Katica wanted some
Jacob time too

Great Aunt Linda, my sister,
with the baby football

Aunt Katica, me and my Mom Chuny

On Monday, my old college buddy, Mark Johnson, asked me to meet him at Dinah's Family Restaurant near the Los Angeles International Airport.

I decided to take the scenic Pacific Coast Highway for the one hour drive on a sunny morning while my friends in Lyon were buried in snow.

Although he lives in Seattle, Mark's business brings him to Los Angeles for meetings once or twice a week.

He was very secretive about why he wanted us to meet but said that it would be extremely important for me to get there and to bring my camera.

Seated L. to R.: Mark, Tom, Ken and Loren
Standing L. to R.: Me and Paul
Photo by Chris

Mark had contacted five of us separately about this meeting without telling any of us that the other former Huskies would be there. We were all greatly surprised and had a ball catching up and telling stories.

As I said, Mark has been a close friend for for the past 45 years. He works with Chris Burrows, also a UW alumni, who joined us for lunch and took the picture above. Chris went to college with us but I have only recently met. Remember that the UW student body numbered about 32,000 people back then, hard to meet everybody.

I went to both high school and college with Tom Verti and he was one of my roommates my Senior year in college. I believe he helped us mix the best five gallons of sangria to ever grace a refrigerator's vegetable bin one warm spring Saturday.

Ken Lee was a tough as nails Linebacker for the Dawgs who went on to play for the Detroit Lions and the Buffalo Bills intercepting six passes for the 1972 Bills.

I had not seen Tom or Ken in about 15 years so it was really a treat to see the two of them.

Loren Brucker was my college roommate for three years and has been a life long friend. We are fortunate to have stayed in touch with his family and I love that his kids and ours are good friends.

Paul Sabolic is one of the most caring and genuine people that I know. He is a person that we see often but not often enough. He bleeds purple and gold and was completely depressed when we last saw him right after the Huskies loss to Boise State in the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl last month.

What a great gathering . . .

Only he could have pulled this off.