Saturday, January 29, 2022

EuroBall Action NEVER Ceases and a Birthday


Tues.-Fri., January 25-28, 2022

Four days that were dominated by the gridiron, European style.

But first, a dose of the truth. . .

. . . the ABSOLUTE truth!

There was still a lot of controversy
over the NFL overtime rules and last
Sunday's end to the Chiefs-Bills game

Regardless, these are your Final Four
teams vying for the Super Bowl LVI's
Lombardi Trophy

I'm sticking with my Super Bowl prediction of a Chiefs-Rams game.

The Lions are the only non-expansion
team to never appear in a Super Bowl

Meanwhile, back on the EuroBall front . . .

The shipping of used American football
equipment to teams in need overseas
continued with this box to Romania

Since last September, Laurie and I have been busy shipping off used but still usable gear donated by local high schools to teams in need in both Europe and South America.

The box that you see above was the 28th that we have sent abroad in the last five months. This is considered to be a medium sized box, most of our shipments have been of the large and extra-large variety.

To date, here are the 18 teams in ten different countries that have received the gridiron "Care Packages."

Cali Dragones

Lannion Grizzlys

Xela Cabros

Ramat Hasharon Hammers

Cagliari Crusaders
Catania Elephants

Sieradz Warriors
Zabki Dukes

Bucharest Titans
Giurgiu Gladiators

Ávila Grizzlies
Guadalajara Stings
Ibi Industriales
Mallorca Voltors
Tenerife Helldogs

Göteborg Marvels

Cambridge University Pythons
Cornwall One for All

As of Thursday, these teams have been the recipients of 23 helmets, 37 shoulder pads, 513 jerseys, 402 pants, 117 new NFL Los Angeles Chargers game socks, 3 face masks, 3 new mouth pieces and an agility ladder!

All of this donated equipment is passed on to these clubs for free, other than the request to reimburse us for our shipping costs. On average, this winds up costing the teams roughly $4.00 per jersey or pant and a little more for the heavier, bulkier helmets and shoulder pads. This is quite the bargain for these clubs.

A huge THANK YOU to Laurie who has given up a huge part of her garage space to house all of this gear and has steadfastly aided in the packing process by being, easily, the world's best shipping tape applier to bolster these box's rough journeys overseas.

Romania's Bucharest Titans
were shipped a box on Tuesday with
36 jerseys and 36 pants

Also located in Romania, the
Giurgiu Gladiators were shipped
32 jerseys and 32 pants on Thursday

On Friday morning, Spain's
Zaragoza Mercenarios inquired
about jerseys and pants

Despite having already shipped a total of 915 jerseys and pants already, we still have lots more in our garage to move along hopefully.

On to the EuroBall Clinic front . . . 

On the left, Varese Skorpions Coach
Christian "Bumba" Bianco
with Martino Piazzi and Ema Della Bosca

Laurie and I have met a lot of wonderful people during all of our EuroBall adventures and Bumba is one of the best of the bests in my opinion.

As the Skorpions Running Backs Coach, he has done a fabulous job getting his players to constantly improve from week-to-week and season-to-season.

Always having the best interests of the Skorpions in mind, he did not hesitate for a moment back in 2018 when we had injury issues in our Offensive Line, to become our starting Right Tackle for a game in Sardinia against the Cagliari Crusaders. One must remember that Bumba was a Running Back all of his career before that night, a 28-0 Skorpions victory. His amazing work as our emergency Right Tackle was something that I'll never forget.

In 2019, the injury bug hit us again in Varese but this time at the Running Back spots. No problem as Coach Bumba morphed into Player/Coach Bumba and was a great blocking Fullback for us who seemed to always pick up some key yards in pressure situations when his number was called to tote the pigskin.

Now, you ask, why is Bumba being mentioned in this post?

Simply because he asked me for a favor this week and how could I possibly even think of not repaying his dedication to our Skorpions.

During the Spring and early Summer of that disastrous Covid-19 year of 2020, Bumba had organized a series of Zoom meetings with the Skorpions coaching staff to answer a myriad of questions that they had about all thing related to American football. I thought that these meeting were a great success and I really enjoyed the back-and-forth nature of these talks.

At about the same time, I had done a similar set of Zoom clinics with the coaching staff of Romania's Cluj Crusaders and again had a ball working with them.

Thus when Bumba informed me that:
A. He was dating a woman from Serbia; 
B. That she had ties to the Board of Directors of the Serbian Association of American Football (SAAF); and that
C. The SAAF Board of Directors wanted to know if I would also be willing do a series of Zoom clinics open to all of the coaches in Serbia that were interested in learning more about the game.

As I said before, how could I refuse Bumba anything?

So on Friday, I had a ZOOM
meeting with Bumba and with . . .

SAAF Board Member
Bosiljka Jovanovic 

Bosa, as her friends call her, was also a highly regarded referee in Italy when I was with the Skorpions. I never realized at the time that she was a Serbian and not an Italian.

Her day job had brought her to Milan for a few years but her passion remained with American football, thus she donned the black and white stripes.

Now back in her home country, Bosa was still keeping extremely active with American football.

Our Zoom meeting also included
SAAF's President Nikola Davidovic

We Zoomed it for about 30 minutes
and instantly recognized that this
was going to work

In life there is the the "FIVE SECOND RULE" stating the amount of time that dropped food can lay on the ground before being safely picked up and still be consumed.

Life also has, I have found, a "FIVE MINUTE RULE." This rule dictates that to a careful observer, the first five minutes in a new environment or upon first meeting someone will tell all you need to know about the culture of your surroundings or character of your new acquaintance.

Bosa and Nikola both passed this valid test with flying colors!

We will have our first SAAF
Zoom Coaching Clinic at
11:00 a.m on Wednesday, February 10th

The Cambridge University Pythons
play the University of Kent Falcons
on Sunday in the United Kingdom

Cambridge was the recipient of 42 jerseys in one of our "Care Packages" back in December.

Sad but not totally unexpected
news on the Europe Warriors front

The Warriors have been trying to put together two more games in the Western Hemisphere in 2022. Previous Warriors efforts have seen Senior Men's games played in Mexico City (2017) and in Chihuahua, Mexico (2018). The Women's team had also played a game in Mexico City (2019) while the Men's U-18 teams had battled in Texcoco, Mexico (2017) and in Vienna (2019).

All five of these games took place in either August or November, a time when the vast majority of EuroBall teams are not playing and athletes are free to travel without missing home team practices. Of course, these games were played in the carefree, pre-Covid-19 years.

The Warriors have been attempting to play two games in March of 2022. The first was scheduled to be played at the beginning of the month, a Women's Senior game in the city of Mérida located on the Yucatán peninsula against Mexico's National team. The second game, a Men's Senior team affair, was to be held at the end of the month in São Paulo against the Brazilian National team.

Unfortunately this week, it was announced that the Women's game has ben cancelled. Financial issues, Covid-19 worries and time spent away from player's regular season team's practices and games all played a part in this decision.

As of the moment, our Men's game in Brazil is still a go but is on shaky ground for the same reasons.


On Friday, we picked up Jacob after school for our weekly trip to our local Pokemon card store.

He was more than happy
to be spoiled by his Poppo

Friday night we celebrated
Vanessa's 25th birthday

I think that's correct.

Mary, grimacing, and Jacob joined us at the "Big People's Table" for dinner.

Of course, we all sang to Vanessa
on her special day

Laurie baked a delicious red velvet bundt cake for the occasion.

Happy Birthday Vanessa!

Reading Is FUNdamental!

This book was fun as it rekindled many
fond memories from my 2010 Camino 

Keep on trucking!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Does Family Fun or American Football EVER Stop?

Tues.-Mon., January 18-24, 2022

What a GREAT all-around weekend for us!

It started with another solid Mexican meal at Camarillo's iconic El Tecolote family restaurant.

Jacob joined us with
Vanessa and Michael

Our granddaughter Mary was a missing due to a Friday night sleepover at the home of Vanessa's parents.

El Tecolote's signature food cart

I wonder how many delicious meals have been served on this cart over the many years?

We had simply a great time and did a lot of catching up after not seeing them for a couple of weeks.

So embarrassingly TRUE!

On Saturday, we had a sleepover with Jacob that started at Harley's Camarillo Bowl. 

It was only Jacob's second time

The vast experience Jacob had accrued playing several bowling games at the local McDonald's table that included a video bowling game was of little help on this day.

As a novice, he experimented with
using both hands to roll the ball

Not bad for our first game

EXCELLENT use of the bumper
on the right side of the lane!

Jacob showed marked improvement
in our second game

My lack of conditioning definitely came into play in this grueling, exhausting rematch.

Did you know that Harley's Camarillo Bowl has an arcade area?

Well, it does

Slaying so many flying dragons

On to a mostly AMAZING weekend of American football on two continents.

Before we get into the 
weekend's EuroBall results . . .

Our beloved Washington Huskies
made a scheduling announcement

In 2029, the Huskies will hit the road to play the Tennessee Volunteers. In 2030, the Volunteers will make the return trip to Seattle for a game.

Now if we can both just stay alive until then . . .

But I'm still older than him

We'll start our EuroBall recap in Florence, Italy.

Our interests were peaked by the
Italian U18 National Championship Game

The Skorpions Varese were a
perfect 7-0 going into the game

Their opponents, the HP team was also 7-0 so it looked to be a tough, intense contest.

I finally found out about the mysterious HP team that I had never heard of before. This club was formed by pooling the U18 players from two of Italy's most highly regarded clubs, the Reggio Emilia Hogs and the Parma Panthers, hence the HP appellation.

Thank goodness for live streaming!

The Pacific Time, Saturday morning game started with the Skorpions returning the Opening Kickoff to the proverbial HOUSE!

It was 7-0 Varese and my toast was still in the toaster.

A Skorpion LB that was part of
suffocating defense on this day

The Varese Offense was unstoppable

The Skorpions dominated in all three phases of the game.

Besides the Opening Kickoff Return for a TD, the Special Teams also contributed a TD on a Punt Return.

Total Domination!

This surprisingly easy win meant but one thing . . .

. . . it was Skorpion

The Italian Federation's 
announcement of the game result

The Skorpions simple announcement

On to Spain's Serie A . . .

The Week #2 agenda in
Spain's top league

The two BYES this week went to the Badalona Dracs (1-0) and the Gijón Mariners (0-1).

Could our Mallorcas Voltors bounce
back from their last second loss to
the Zaragoza Hurricanes last week?

Maybe having a home game
against a Barberá club who had
yet to play a game would do the trick


It's back to the drawing board to retool as our Voltors have back-to-back BYE weeks before taking to the road for the February 12th game against the L'Hospitalet Pioners (1-1).

Spanish Serie A
Eastern Conference Standings
Badalona Dracs 1-0
Barberá Rookies 1-0
L'Hospitalet Pioners 1-1
Zaragoza Hurricanes 1-1
Mallorca Voltors 0-2

Eastern Conference Week #2 Results
Pioners (1-1) 56 - Hurricanes (1-1) 48
Rookies (1-1) 47 - Voltors (0-2) 0
BYE: Dracs

Eastern Conference Games
All teams have BYES January 29-30
Week #3 on February 6, 2022
Hurricanes (1-1) at Dracs (1-0)
Pioners (1-1) at Rookies (1-0)
Voltors (0-2) - BYE

Western Conference Standings
Murcia Cobras 2-0
Osos Rivas 2-0
Fuengirola Potros 0-1
Gijón Mariners 0-1
Las Rozas Black Demons 0-2

Western Conference Games
All teams have BYES January 29-30
Week #3 on February 6, 2022
Osos (2-0) at Potros (0-1)
Black Demons (0-2) at Mariners (0-1)
Cobras (2-0) - BYE 

Finally on the EuroBall scene, we continue to ship donated, used American football equipment to teams in need in Europe and South America.

Since September, we have shipped a total of 481 jerseys, 372 pants, 23 helmets and 37 shoulder pads to clubs in Colombia, France, Guatemala, Israel, Italy, Poland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Helping 17 clubs in ten different countries to improve their programs at minimal costs, they pay for the shipping costs, the used equipment itself if free, makes us feel good in our retirement roles as ambassadors of the game.

Now, for perhaps the greatest four games ever played in one NFL playoff weekend . . .

. . . and the Rams were part of it!

These four games were all
decided on the last play of the game

So much drama over a two day span that was much different from the Skorpions and Voltors games.

On Saturday, the AFC game saw the Cincinnati Bengals beating the #1 seeded Tennessee Titans 19-16. The NFC game was just as good with the San Francisco 49ers beating the #1 seeded Green Bay Packers 13-10. 

On to Sunday's NFL games . . .

A Field Goal with no time
left on the clock to win the
day's first game was FUN!

For goodness sakes, it was done at Tampa Bay against the defending Super Bowl Champions led by the GOAT, Tom Brady!

The AFC game that followed may have been one of the greatest games ever in NFL history. The Kansas City Chiefs upended the Buffalo Bills in overtime, 42-36.

Someone suggested that this game was so good that they should just cancel the rest of the playoff games and just let the Chiefs and Bills play a best of seven series to decide this season's NFL Championship.

I'm a Rams' fan so I have to say no, but still . . .

Rams (14-5) will be home
for the NFC Championship Game

It sounds good until you remember that the 49ers (12-7) have won the last six games between the two teams.

When they played at SoFi Stadium in the final regular season game two weeks ago, with a much needed L.A. win securing the Rams the NFC's #2 seed in the playoffs, the 49ers prevailed 27-24 in overtime.

The Week #10 game in San Francisco was all 49ers in throttling the Rams, 31-10.

Seventh time is the charm . . .

The Final Four's Playoff
Road to Super Bowl LVI

I pick the Rams (with my heart) and the Chiefs (with my brain) to win this weekend setting up a Super Bowl that hopefully could live up to their epic Monday Night Football meeting of a few years ago.

On Sunday afternoon, Jacob had a low key Spring soccer league game.

On the right, battling for the ball

Sprinting for the ball

When I was his age I could sprint, today not so much.

Jacob "Crazylegs" Contreras

Still in the fray

Life in Camarillo continues to flourish.

Reading Is FUNdamental!

The 14th installment in Walker's
Bruno, Chief of Police series

These novels are always set in France's southwest Dordogne region and are equal parts crime story, intrigue, wine and cuisine.

I've enjoyed all 14 of these books and look forward to his 15th and newest soon to be released Bruno novel, To Kill a Troubador.

Staying in France but with
this rascal that is part thief, part saint

This book is a compilation of 19 short stories about the antics of the fictional Arsène Lupin who becomes all the rage in the Paris newspapers of the early part of the 20th century.

As I understand it, the Arsène Lupin stories have been turned into a made for TV series on Netflix. I need to check it out.

Le Bon Temps Roule!