Saturday, June 17, 2006

Day 20-21: Travel home!

The WNT packed up early and said good-bye to their gracious hosts in Eindhoven before boarding a train for Amsterdam. Arriving at the Amsterdam airport, the WNT bid farewell to Europe and boarded a train for Washington, DC, where they would touch American soil again after an amazing and exhausting three weeks!!!

Day 19: USA vs. Holland VHC and World Cup!

The morning began with a friendly match against Holland VHC, in their home gym. It had been a close match in the tournament, but this time there would be 30 minute halves and an actual half-time. The WNT was hoping that this match would produce a final win on the tour.

The game began well for the WNT, who were up most of the first half, and finished the second half only one point behind. THe second half proved a little more difficult for the WNT, who had the opportunity to take a win in the last ten minutes when they were up 6 players to 3 on the Dutch side (lots of 2 minutes!). Sadly this advantage slipped away from the WNT, who got beat on fast break a few times to finish the game 25-31.

After showering, the WNT ate some sandwhiches that had been prepared for them by their local hosts and headed into town to enjoy the afternoon sun. Once the team arrived in town, they were given free reign to enjoy watching the Holland vs. Bosnia World Cup game that was being shown on big screen tvs that littered the streets.

Eindhoven was completely orange with people dressed to support their team. The streets were packed and people sitting in outdoor bars and cafe's spilled over into the streets, creating quite a vision of orange! The town exploded when Holland won the game 1-0.

When the match ended, the WNT met for dinner at a nice steakhouse in the city. "Chief" (Sarah Gascon's dad) and Gail (Lauren's mom) treated the team do a delicious dinner, including a celebration of Amanda, T, and Maren's birthdays which had passed during the trip.

After a lovely day, everyone was released on their on recognizance to enjoy the evening as they pleased. Some went out on the town, others enjoyed a movie, and some took the time to pack and relax back at the lodge.

An excellent day of enjoying Eindhoven and relaxing with teammates!!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Day 18: Tournament in Eindhoven

This morning began with kind of a relaxed start, a nice breakfast, and travel to the gym in town. We arrived early to watch a coaching workshop given by the coach of a local men's team. We watched as the players demonstrated different drills for both the court players and the goalies.

After the clinic finished, the WNT suited up to begin the tournament. They played four games over the course of the day, winning against the Belgian national champions (25-20), but losing by a few points to the three elite division teams from Holland.

It was an exhausting day, but there was a lot of great competition.

Day 17: Travel to Holland

The day began early, as we packed our things into the vans, cleaned out the dorms, and headed to the Stralsund train station to make our way to Holland.

We said farewell to Bernd and our gracious hosts, who will hopefully make it to the USA sometime soon.

The first leg of the trip took us from Stralsund to Hamburg, then Hamburg to Dusseldorf, then Dusseldorf to Eindhoven.

With today being the first day of the World Cup, it was certainly hectic travelling through Germany!! At the same time, we arrived safely in Eindhoven to meet with our hosts at the station.

From the station, our hosts took our bags while we took a scenic walk through the city to our lodgings. That evening, we settled into the house where we were staying, ate a nice dinner, and went to bed in preparation for tomorrow's 4 games!!

Day 16: Last day in Stralsund!

Last day in Stralsund!! It turned out to be a really great day for the WNT, who had an opportunity to spend their last training session in Germany with the coach of a local Division I team, and a few of his players.

The coach, Holger Schneider, arrived at the gym ready to get to work with the WNT! From the beginning, it was an intense practice, but it was nice having the men's players there to show us how to do the drills correctly. Even with the language barrier, he was very clear about how he wanted things done.

The drills started off with basic warm-ups that included ball-handling, passing, and quick feet movement. Then we moved onto defense, and then broke-up into our position groups to do position-specific shooting exercises. It was fantastic for each of us to work with one of the players in our position, really focusing on some of the specific skills we needed to work on.

After the position-shooting, we all got together to work on fast-breaks, and how to draw the goalie (while the goalies worked on defending fast break shots!). We finished with a game of "35 points"- wherein we started with 35 and every shot we made took us down one point, and every shot we missed took us up two points! The idea was to end practice when the score reached zero. (This was definitely a game we knew we'd be seeing again in our practices once we got back to Cortland). With time limited, we cut the game short and brought it in for the day. Everyone was exhausted, but very excited about what a great practice it had been.

With lunch time growing near, we headed to the hotel next door for food, while the coaches talked tactics at a nearby table.

After we got back home, the coaches gave us the afternoon off to take care of laundry, shopping for handball stuff (shoes, kneepads, and all sorts of exciting stuff that you can't get in the US!), or just relaxing.

Later that afternoon, we meet the Stralsunder HV team at one of the local handball gyms for a joint training/scrimmage session. The WNT split up into two teams, supplemented by members of the Stralsunder HV team, and we played 3 15-minute periods, after which we all gathered outside for a delcious BBQ.

As the sun went down, the WNT enjoyed good food and socializing with the Stralsunder ladies, who described what their training and life was like in Germany. It was a fun day, and a terrific way to end our time in Germany!

Day 15: Day in Neubrandenburg

This morning the WNT had breakfast and packed into vans to make the 1.5 hour trip south to Neubrandenburg. As we had heard the previous day, this city was one that was a trading partner with Stralsund "back in the day" (they were both in the same hansel, as they called it).

The day started off with a training session at one of the gyms on the campus of the Elite Sports School, where later the team would face-off against Neubrandenburg, a 3rd Division team with many young players from the sports school.

After training, showering, and eating lunch, the WNT headed for a tour of the school. It started off with a brief introduction of the school and a question and answer session with the school's Director of Sports, English teacher, and Vice-Principal. Next they took us on a tour of the main building, including classrooms for art and science. The school emphasized that although their students were elite athletes, their education was also very important.

When the tour had been completed, the coaches decided to let the players have some nice relaxation time before the game. So the WNT boarded a boat for a laid-back tour of the Neubrandenburg lake. It was a nice sunny day, and everyone enjoyed having an hour or so to enjoy the fresh air before game preparation began.

As soon as the boat docked, the WNT headed back to the gym to get ready for their game. The stadium had been sold out, so they knew it would be important to get focused.

Sure enough, the stadium filled up with lots of locals, who brought their families, their drums, their trumpets and noisemakers!! It was a really festive atmosphere for what turned out to be a really exciting match.

Things started off well for the WNT, who took the lead in the beginning 5-0. During a time out in the first half, Coach Latulippe impressed on the players that it was time to keep the intensity and take care of the ball. By the end of the first half, the WNT was down one 12-13.

The second half was just as intense, but in the end the WNT couldn't put the ball in consistently, and the defense fell. The game ended with a final score of 25-20.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Day 14: Day off in Stralsund!

Today the WNT had a break fro training and games. The morning started off with a nice breakfast that included french toast made by "T" and Jenny Choi (with help from a few others). At 9:00, the team met with a tour guide in downtown Stralsund for an hour and a half tour of the city.

It was a beautiful day, and everyone enjoyed walking around and learning about the rich history of Stralsund, including many churches and buildings that date back to the 1400's.

After the tour, the WNT went to the local mal, where we were greeted by a team of cheerleaders at the entrance. Members of the team did a little demonstration with a goal that had been set-up on the main floor. Inside, the WNT met with the manager of the mall, and took a tour of the mall.

Everyone was really excited to be given "all access" to the mall cafeteria, which included delicious food and all we could eat!

The afternoon was given off so that people could take care of their laundry/shopping/email.

The team reconvened in the evening, all dressed up in their best clothes to meet with the mayor of Stralsund. Unfortunately, the mayor was sick, but the vice-mayor came and welcomed us to the town hall where everyone enjoyed a nice buffet with lots of local delicacies like fresh fish and soup, as well as other entrees and fruit and dessert.

Come visit Stralsund, it is definitely a fantastic city!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Day 13: WNT plays Stralsund Tournament

The team enjoyed a leisurely morning in. With a three-game tournament in the afternoon, the coaches nixed morning practice and everyone slept in a bit...At 10pm, the team gathered in the common room for a delicious brunch that included fresh rolls, jam, and omlettes courtesy of team captain "T" who showed off her culinary skills for the team.

Not too much later, we headed into town for a lunch at a local restaurant (thanks to our local hosts and food sponsors). From there we left for the gym.

We played the 2nd, 4th, and 6th games of the was a long day, but there was a lot of really good handball.

WNT came in 3rd place with results as follows:

USA vs. Neubrandenburg (15-20)
USA vs. TSV Altenholz D3 (25-13)
USA vs. Stralsunder HV (15-10)

Final Standings:
1st- Neubrandenburg (2-1)
2nd- TSV Altenholz (2-1)
3rd- USA (1-2)
4th- Stralsunder (1-2)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Day 12: USA vs. Stralsunder HV

Breakfast, training session, then lunch in town and off to the stadium in town to play the local team.

Another good crowd in the stadium!

USA had control over most of the game, finishing at the end with a win!

USA 26- Stralsund 24

Day 11: WNT vs. Grimmen

Woke-up, had a nice breakfast in the dorms before heading to the gym down the street for a training session.

Our local host Bernd took us for lunch in downtown Stralsund where we had delicious fresh fish and potatoes. It was fun to go out and have the restaurants sponsor us!

Played a game at 4pm vs. Grimmen, a 4th division team who finished first in their league and will move up to the 3rd division next year. The stadium was packed, with all of the seats packed and even people standing.

Tough game- USA had the lead for most of the last half, but a few penalty shots at the end tied the game up 30-30 at the buzzer. Fun game!

Day 10: WNT travels to Germany

Long day of travel! Started off with a bus ride to Gare du Nord in Paris. Took the 10:55am train from Paris to Koln, Koln to Hamburg, Hamburg to Rostrad, and Rostrad to Stralsund. We arrived at 1:20am, with our hosts waiting to pick us up and take us to the dorms.

The dorms are really nice, and our hosts stocked the kitchen with food and drinks. After arriving late, most people headed to bed for the night!

Four long train rides, but everyone arrived in one piece with pretty high spirits...

Day 9: USA vs. Paris

Tough game...

USA 21, Paris 27

Exciting game in the stadium, including a big percussion band that played throughout the game, adding an interesting element to the match.

Final standings in the tournament:

1st Place: Israel (2-1)
2nd Place: Paris (2-1)
3rd Place: USA (1-2)
4th Place: London (1-2)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Day 8: USA vs. Israel

The morning started off as usual with a walk to the gym and a 1.5 hour practice. The team focused on preparing their defense to stop some of Israel's key players, mainly the right wing and the left back.

The afternoon was fairly relaxed, with the WNT eating lunch on campus and taking a rest before gathering for a stretching session at 3:30pm. After stretching and eating some snacks, the WNT loaded up the bus to head to the gym with plenty of time.

When the team arrived at the gym, the players got to enjoy watching the end of a children's handball tournament. Everyone was impressed to see a bunch of 6-12 year olds playing handball! We definitely have some work to do, but it would be great to see kids playing handball at this age in the US.

After a nice warm-up, the WNT exchanged pins with Israel and each team's National Anthem was played. The WNT was proud to announce that tonight's game was the 25th international match for Edina Batar, and the first for Jenny Choi, Jen Haubrich, Melanie McCormick, Sarah Gascon, Erika Bohn, and Sarah Merkl.

The first half ended 9-8, with the WNT ahead by one point. Coming into the second half, the game was within reach. Sadly, the second half took a dive. Perhaps we were a little too overconfient, but the intensity wasn├Ąt there. We were plagued by 2 minutes and 7 meters (there were 10 in the second half), and the game finished with Israel winning 27-16.

Pictures soon...

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Day 7: Pictures from USA vs. London

Sarah Gascon, Jennifer Farrell, and Tomuke Ebuwei on offense

Jenny Choi, Tomuke Ebuwei, and Kathy Darling play defense

Sarah Gascon gives Maren McCrary props after some nice wing defense

Celia arrives in Europe after graduating from West Point. Yay Celia!

Jen Haubrich and Tomuke Ebuwei get ready on defense

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Day 7: USA v. London (Tournament Game 1)

The WNT set-off at 7:45am this morning for their "10 minute" walk to the gym. Although they didn't arrive until 9:00am, at least they got a chance to enjoy the crisp morning air and a scenic walking tour of the area (including a nice view of a giant castle/chateau on a hillside). Once they made it to the gym, practice proceeded as usual as the team prepared for their evening match against London.

After a rest period and lunch, the WNT gathered in the campus cinema to watch video from their friendly match against Israel. The coaches discussed some defensive strategy with the players before sending them off to enjoy a few hours of rest.

The games took place at a stadium in Issy de Mortineau. The stadium was very nice, with a great floor, lots of room for spectators and new locker rooms.

Things were running on what we now like to call "French time," so we started the game a little later than expected and the first whistle blew at 6:45. Things got off to a bit of a slow start for the WNT, who kept a small lead but never drove ahead against the London team, who- although they had mostly foreign players (Slovak, Hungarian, French)- should have been easy to beat.

After half-time, the WNT pulled ahead a little bit only to have their defense break-down, and their offense struggle with turnovers, ending the game with a win, but not as big as it should have been.

Game 1: USA 24- London 22

Pictures soon....

Day 6: Day off in Paris!

Our first day off!! After a few tough days in Paris, it was nice to enjoy a "day off" in the beautiful city of Paris!!

The day began with breakfast and then a team meeting to discuss yesterday's games and review our strategy and goals for the tournament. It was nice to have the time to talk about what things we did well, and what things we need to improve on. After a nice discussion, the team had a few hours to take care of personal business like doing laundry and catching up on email!

Before heading into town, the WNT gathered for lunch at the CREPS cafeteria, before heading off on the RER (train) to downtown Paris.

We started off at the Louvre, and from there smaller groups went off into the city for a few hours to explore and enjoy the day. Some went to the Eiffel Tower, others enjoyed the Louvre, Sacre Coeur Cathedral, Notre Dame, and just walking along the Champs-Elysee.

The team rendez-vous'd back at the Louvre at 6pm to head home, but not before stopping in the Adidas sport shop in search of handball shoes and World Cup gear.

Eventually we all made it back home to CREPS where we ate dinner and took the evening to "hang out," make phone calls, finish laundry and relax.

Big day tomorrow with the first day of the tournament!

Day 5: USA v. Paris 92, USA v. Israel

This was our first day of competition in Paris. After a training session in the morning, we went back to CREPS to shower, eat, and get prepared for the afternoon games which started at 2:30pm.

We arrived in the gym, and played Paris 92, a side selected of players from one particular region in Paris. The game started off poorly, with Paris taking an early lead of 0-7. After a time-out in which Coach Latulippe refocused his players, everyone got back on track to win the game 19-17, with a pretty good looking second half.

After the game, the WNT had a small break during which they watched Israel play Paris and lose by a few points. Perhaps this built everyone's confidence too much, because when we played Israel, we let them take a lead, finishing the game 25-17. Needless to say, no one was pleased with these results, especially since we all realized that Israel was a team we could beat. They played a quick game, and with a smart defense and a strong ability to fast break.

Once everyone had showered, we returned to CREPS where we ate dinner and called it a night....lots to think about if want to win these games during the "official" tournament!

Day 4: Paris and the Coupe de Ligue

Today we travelled from Strasbourg (in the North of France) to Paris by train. It was an early morning departure (7:25am), but we had the train to ourselves so we relaxed in nice compartments. We arrived fairly early in the afternoon at the Gare de l'Est in downtown Paris where we met with Lionel and our hosts in Paris.

They had a lovely bus waiting for us and all of our baggage, and we climbed in headed for CREPS- a training center where we'd spend the next week sleeping, eating, and training.

The campus at CREPS was absolutely beautiful, with big lawns and flowers, and young athletes who were there training for soccer, handball, field hockey and other sports. There were several dorms, two cafeterias, a main building with classrooms, a movie theater, and a library. It all looked very nice.

After we got settled into our dorms, we headed to the cafeteria for a late lunch. After lunch we unpacked, showered, and got ready to go back into town to watch a men's handball game.

We arrived at the stadium, excited to see the final match of the Coupe de Ligue, a French national championship for handball. Montpellier was playing against Paris for the title, it was a sure to be an exciting match!!

The game was a first for most people on the team, and the atmosphere was exciting, with people bringing drums and trumpets and noisemakers to keep the stadium loud. At the end of the game, the score was tied, and the teams went into 2x5 minute overtime. In the end, Montpellier won 30-29. What a great game!!

After the game was over, the team was invited downstairs to the VIP room where we had snacks and drinks and had a chance to meet with the players from both teams. It was definitely a fantastic evening!!

Day 3: School Clinic

Before their morning practice, the WNT took a trip to the local school in Lingolsheim: l'Ecole Maxime Alexandre. Here they met up with students in their second year of English class. WNT players answered questions about being on the team, and their time in Europe.

It was a lot of fun for both the students and the WNT!

WNT players laugh when Edina answers the question: "How old are you?"

Sara Merkl and Lauren Walters chat with students

Sarah Gascon and Jen Haubrich discuss their lives as athletes

Students and WNT pose for a picture

Day 2: Around Strasbourg

A fun day in Strasbourg!

We had a chance to sleep in this morning and had breakfast at 9am before heading to practice in the gym down the street. It was fun to have some spectators from the local club there to watch us as we trained.

After practice, we headed back to the hotel and showered before packing into vans to head into downtown Strasbourg for a tour of the city. There we met with Marguerite, the mother of one of our hosts, who has given tours in Strasbourg for many years.

She walked us around the city for a bit before we all met for lunch in a little restaurant downtown that served traditional Alsacian cuisine. We had a delicious lunch and headed outside to check out the Strasbourg Cathedral, a beautiful church that was the tallest in Europe until the 19th century, when one in Germany beat it out!

She told us that people used to come and pray for children in this church, and that often storks were seen hanging outside the church, or on the church itself. Apparently this is where the myth about storks delivering children originated!!

Sadly the church was closed because it was a holiday, and they were giving a special ceremony inside for a priest who was becoming ordained. Even still, the outside was absolutely gorgeous!!

Since it began to rain, we cut the tour a little bit short and headed back to the vans after another walk through the city.
Strasbourg was definitely a beautiful city, with lots of history, having belonged to both Germany and France!!

Day 1: Travel Pictures

First leg of the trip, Syracuse to DC...still cheerful!

Kathy Darling and Jacque Messel are ready to hit Europe!

WNT players hang out during the 6 hour layover in DC

Day 1: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

It was a typical day of travel...long waits, layovers, lost bags, and jetlag. But somehow, 27 hours later, 19 players, 2 coaches, and a trainer finally made it to the HOtel Atelys in Strasbourg, France.

Sadly, Dawn, Maren, and Edina missed the first train from Paris after trying to locate Maren's luggage, which had been lost since her Monday night flight from Texas. After filing a claim, they made the next train and arrived safely in Strasbourg two hours later.

The biggest challenge of the day was trying to stay awake to adjust to the new schedule SOme of the team walked around the suburb of Lingolsheim, where the team is staying and training at the l'ecole Maxime Alexandre.

At 7pm, the whole team walked up the street to the school gym where the local hosts arranged for a traditional Alsace dinner that included "tarte flambee"- grilled crepe with ham and cheese for the main course, and with apples and cinnemon for dessert.

After a nice social with the local organizing committe, the WNT headed back to the hotel for a long night of much-needed sleep!!

Monday, May 29, 2006

Quick update- not much internet

Hi Everyone! We finally have brief internet access, so a quick update. We've got tons of pictures and commentary we'll put up if we can get the computer for more than a few minutes...hopefully soon!

We're in Paris right now, after several days in Strasbourg, France.

So far we've played 5 games:
1) USA v. Reichstett (28-28) National 2 level
2) USA v. Asptt (19-34) National 1 level
3) USA v. Achnheim (24-29) National 1 level
4) USA v. Paris selection (19-17) Friendly
5) USA V. Israel (17-26)- 20 minute halves/Friendly

Today (Monday) is our day off, we'll explore Paris and rest in preparation for the tournament that begins on Tuesday against Israel, Paris selection, and London.

The team also had a chance to watch the final match of the French Championship between Montpellier and Paris. It went into overtime with Montpellier taking the title. The WNT was also invited to the VIP lounge to meet the players after the game. It was a great opportunity to see handball at the highest level.

More updates, and pictures, to follow! Please be patient, apparently internet isn't as easy to find as we thought!!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Schedule in France

Schedule in Germany

Schedule in Holland

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Roster for the Summer 2006 European Tour: