Saturday, July 30, 2016

EuroBall Adventure Part VIII

During my Spring two month coaching experience working in the Stockholm, Sweden suburb of Upplands Väsby with the Wäsby Warriors, I discovered a few new things about myself.

First, I thoroughly enjoyed this type of a relatively short stint in a club's off-season working solely on player fundamentals and coaching the coaches.

I discovered that I felt that I had accomplished much more in a shorter period of time improving the game for this club than I did with any of my long five to nine month seasons with other EuroBall clubs.

I also discovered that being away from the grandkids for longer than two months was no longer an option.

Enter Madrid's Osos Rivas
American Football Club 

With then Osos Rivas President
Enrique Martín Alonso in June, 2015

Enrique has been a long time follower of this blog and a Facebook friend for many years.

At the end of our 2015 season with Spain's Murcia Cobras, we finally met when Laurie and I arrived in the Spanish capital for a few days before flying home to California.

Proud Tradition

The Osos (Bears) were founded in 1989 and have been a perennial power in LFNA Serie A, Spain's toughest American football circuit.

They won the National Championship in 2001 while being coached by SoCal natives Chris and Vince Pagliaro. Chris is Vince's father. Chris' great stories about coaching overseas were a big reason why I wound up starting my own EuroBall career in 2008.

The Osos were National runners-up in 1999, 2002 and 2012.

The have also won the Spanish Cup Championship in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009.  

February 11, 2012
Sueca Ricers at Osos Rivas

I was in Madrid on this date on my way to coaching the Thun Tigers in Switzerland and opted to catch an Osos game on a cold, raw and windy day.

The Osos mauled the Ricers 31-0

It was a no-contest kind of day as the Osos would march to the National Championship game at the end of the 2012 season.

With Enrique for lunch in Barcelona
this past June

During our incredible lunch we talked football.

After following this blog while coaching Sweden the previous two months, Enrique was intrigued by this new off-season model that Thomas Andersson of the Wäsby Warriors had started.

I told him all about positive effects that we accomplished with player fundamentals, the coaching of the coaches and the recruiting new blood for the Warriors via the many school visits, P.E. classes taught and school team practices held.

In short, I told Enrique that this was an innovative, effective and much more cost effective model for EuroBall teams to explore.

When we were deep into our dessert and café, Enrique asked if I would be interested in coming Madrid during their off-season in October and November to do the same thing for the Osos and some of their feeder programs.

I said "Si."

He said that he would have to go back to the powers that be back in Madrid to discuss the idea and would let me know what they thought.

Last Week a Decision was Reached

Now I'm looking at adding another 11,750 more round-trip travel miles to my account.

They said "Si" too. 

So, after six complete seasons with Italy's Catania Elephants in 2008 and 2009, with Sweden's Hässleholm Hurricanes in 2010, with Switzerland's Thun Tigers in 2012, with France's Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons in 2012-13 and with Spain's Murcia Cobras in 2015 plus a mini off-season with Sweden's Wäsby Warriors in the Spring of 2016, I'll be back at it in Spain this Fall with another mini off-season with the Osos Rivas.

It should be fun!

It's GREAT to be an Oso!!!

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Busy, Warm Month of July

July 10-28, 2016:


The last few weeks in SoCal have been HOT so we have visited Carpinteria, a.k.a., "The World's Safest Beach," on more than one occasion.

Great Beach

Great Vistas

Yes, those are Viking ships waiting to raid the California coast sometime soon.

 Great Brewery

Great Cheeseburger

Carpinteria has everything that we need to escape the heat and it is only a 30 minute drive up the coast from Casa Contreras.


We were invited to join our friend Helen Fujita for the Los Angeles premier of the movie "Gleason."

It was a first for Laurie and I. Helen's son Scott is a former NFL player (11 seasons with Kansas City, Dallas, New Orleans and Cleveland) who was a Producer of the film and a close friend of the documentary's subject, ex-New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason who is courageously battling Lou Gehrig's disease.

 The Premier Theater at L.A. Live

Casual Dress

After all, it is Southern California.

An unknown, to me, starlet
on the Red Carpet

As usual, we avoided the paparazzi.

Steve Gleason

The tall man standing behind him is Scott Fujita.

The guy in the sun glasses next to Scott is some guy named Matthew McConaughey.

I gathered that he is famous.

The film opens nation-wide today

It is a powerful, thought provoking and emotional roller coaster of a film.

It is also a must see film.

Scott and Helen
with poor back lighting

Post Screening Party

We had passes.

I gather that we must be famous too.

Wolfgang Puck's

The Post Screening Party was being held at Wolfgang Puck's Restaurant on the 24th floor of a nearby hotel building.

 Laurie and Helen

Because I was the Designated Driver, they were boozing it up on the Producer's tab.


 Debi Murphy's Grandson Dylan
in Hot Pursuit

We watched him play in his Summer League game and he is really good. He scored two offensive TDs and also had two defensive scores on Pick-Sixes.

On behalf of the Washington Huskies, I offered him a scholarship on the spot.


July 17th was our 45th

We celebrated with breakfast at a
great French bistro, Chocolatine,
in Thousand Oaks


Our Granddaughter Mary celebrated her first birthday on July 23rd so Jenn, Andy and Kevin came into town from Las Vegas.


 Andy, Kevin, Michael and Jacob

Let the games begin!!!

Jedi Warriors

Ventura County's
Criminal Element

Michael trying to enforce the
Laws of the Land

Rally Racing practice
during a breakfast at Cronies

 Mary's First Cronies experience

The Birthday Party's theme
was Snow White

She not one but TWO Prince Charmings!

As soon as this photo was taken they were both happy to change into more subdued shirts.


 "Please Mommy, PLEASE"

"More Rum!"

As usual when we all reunite with family and friends, we all had a wonderful time.


Lead Singer Chris Pagliaro

We journeyed up to Santa Barbara last Sunday to take in this fun group.

With Chris Pagliaro and
his son Vince

Chris was a long time Head Coach at Newbury Park H.S. before moving on to an Assistant Coach job at Santa Barbara City College.

Vince was the Head Coach and Chris was his assistant with Madrid's Osos Rivas American Football Club in 2001 when the Osos won their only Serie A Spanish National Championship in their 37 year history.

It was Chris's stories about life coaching in EuroBall that helped lead me to my first overseas coaching experience with Sicily's Catania Elephants in 2008.

Speaking of experiences . . .

45 seasons coaching in
California High Schools
Seven seasons coaching in Europe

The newest sign arrived at last!

Reading Is FUNdamental

Interesting but it could have easily
been a pamphlet

GREAT historical read

Some eerie parallels to what is happening in America today.

Jesus, Mary AND Joseph

The beautiful vacation island of Gotland in Sweden may be the scene of the most twisted writers on the face of the Earth.

This is the fifth of Mari Jungstead's mystery novels set on the island that I have read. When I visited this idyllic island while spending a glorious weekend in the medieval, walled city of Visby, I would never have guessed the danger that was constantly surrounding me!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Busy First Week Back in SoCal

July 2-9, 2016:

WOW, what a week I had!

After two days of battling jet lag, I was ready to roll on the Fourth of July with the grandkids.

Mary and Jacob took part in the
Ventura Independence Day Parade

And Mary was in full fun mode
at our home later that day

We played a little more Kubb in the afternoon and, of course, had delicious BBQ'd hamburgers for dinner.

It was a good day.

 The grill at The Hat in
Simi Valley

The Hat is much more renowned for their French dip pastrami sandwiches than for their burgers. This was the site of the first of many meetings this week.

At The Hat I thoroughly enjoyed a four hour lunch with Robert Richards who is currently the outstanding Offensive Line coach at powerhouse Oaks Christian H.S.

When I first started coaching American football in 1970 at Thousand Oaks H.S., Robert was the Head J.V. coach and I was his one and only assistant. We worked together for two seasons, forging a 16-2 record along the way and winning the 1971 Marmonte League J.V. title.

I cannot begin to tell you how indebted I am to Robert for all of the things that he taught me back in those formative days of a young coach's career.

Later in the week, Laurie and I met with Paul and Joanne Sabolic for dinner at Cronies Sports Grill in Camarillo. Paul is a long-time friend from our University of Washington days. We had a great time seeing them over what turned out to be four hour dinner at this fine dining establishment.

It is amazing how time flies when getting together with good friends.

I then had an interesting meeting with former Newbury Park H.S. football player Jacob Wuesthoff (DB/WR) about playing in Europe after he finishes his Senior season playing for the University of Puget Sound this coming Fall. I think that he will be a great addition to any EuroBall team's roster in 2017.

The next meeting of this hectic week was with the Murphy Clan at their ancestral home. So much fun yet again.

The final meeting of the week came at a 1st birthday party for little L.J. Law. Lots of fun seeing many familiar faces from our Rio Mesa H.S. days and talking EuroBall with Charles Smith who coaches in Rome, Georgia and was full of great stories from his days as a player at the University of Georgia.

On Thursday, July 7th of this week I turned 69 years old. It was decided that we should celebrate my day at Dodger Stadium while the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted the San Diego Padres.

It would also be young Jacob's first ever Dodger game.

We were excited and ready!

Vanessa, Mike and Jacob were a bit confused as they all sported Los Angeles Rams t-shirts.

 Jacob was ready in case of a
home run ball hit our direction

Jacob and Poppo

 The Boys

Love Dodger Stadium

Jacob's Peek-A-Boo game

Closing in on our seats

Jacob enters his first game

I tried to warn him about becoming a Dodger fan and the heartache that goes with it.

His response?

"GO BLUE!!!"

Mike was born in 1976


We had tickets in the Right Field Pavillion which offered an all-you-can-eat perk consisting of hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, popcorn and soda pops.

At $42 a seat, it is a good value when you consider that Dodger Dogs alone sell for $6 a piece.

I had $24 worth of these wonderful tube steaks during the night.

 GREAT season featuring
Wally Moon's "Moon Shots"

Mike found him a batting
practice home run ball

The hat has growing room
for Jacob

 Our view from the Right Field Pavilion

Baseball can keep you
young at heart

Cotton Candy Mania

Jacob described it as ". . . eating a bubble bath."

The sugar kicked in quickly.

 With Hall-of-Fame Dodger
Manager Tommy Lasorda

Post cotton candy, I ran him around the stadium for an inning to get a bit of the sugar out of his system.

Seventh Inning
Padres 6 - Dodgers 0

We opted to mosey on home early as the game was out of hand and Jacob was showing a few faint signs of wearing out.

Souvenir Time

The Lights of
Blue Heaven on Earth 

On Saturday, I needed a football fix so I drove over to Rio Mesa H.S. to watch a bit of their 7-on-7 and Linemen's Tournaments.

 11 schools met with five
games being played at a time

Passing Offenses everywhere
you looked

BOMB to the corner

End Zone Ballet

Another BOMB to the right corner

Swing passes are OK too

Linemen's Tournament Action
Power Cleaning

The Rock Toss

Too High

It was fun to again see several old friends today at these tournaments.

Reading Is FUNdamental

This is the ninth installment in Walker's Bruno the Detective series set in southwest France.

Just like his first eight books in this series, I found it a fun read with equal doses of mystery and French cuisine.