Day 2 – Presence

Thankfully, as we awoke the following morning the world had righted itself. The sun, even at sunup was crisp, clear, and noticeably strong. Our small cadre woke and gathered in the residence lounge before going to breakfast. We had the luxury of being the only team in the dormitory. We had the floor and the lounge to ourselves which offered a quiet sanctuary and an ideal place for rest during downtime. We quickly found out that we were not the only team in the dining hall.

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The view from the rooms in Johnson-MacFarlane Hall.

At breakfast our handful of players got their first glimpse of what they were up against. No sooner than we had entered the dining hall when all of team England marched in wearing matching practice shirts and shorts. The average English player was 20kgs heavier than us and our heads aligned a little too conveniently with their shoulders. The tone had been set.

As we queued in line we took stock of the other teams represented in the dining hall. It looked as though full teams had already arrived for England, Hong Kong, Scotland, Sweden, Poland, and some of the coaches from team Canada were also present for the 8am meal. Some of our players, who speak broken English and are used to having 2 hard-boiled eggs and noodles for breakfast, had as many questions about the foods they were being offered as they did about the international crowd they were among. Mobile phone maps were used frequently throughout the meal.

As I have had the good fortune to have become part of the China Lacrosse community it should not have come as a surprise to me that one of my colleagues has done something similar. One of the first people I encountered in the dining hall was a teammate of mine from prep-school, Drew Werney. Drew and I both attended Bridgton Academy during the 2003-2004 school year and were teammates on the lacrosse team from which at least 2 of our teammates went to the MLL. Drew was in Denver coaching for team Poland. We caught up, had breakfast, and wished each other a good tournament. Our teams were not slated to play against one another so we would be able to compare notes on other teams throughout the tournament. It was good to see Drew and also a comforting reminder of how the game of lacrosse brings people back together no matter how far they’ve traveled.

After breakfast we wandered over to the adjacent practice fields.  We took in the view from the bleachers that overlooked all 3 practice fields, and were lucky enough to see Canada practicing with Thailand as well as other teams who would not play against each other in actual tournament play.

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View from the top of the grandstand at the University of Denver.

We then headed back to our dorm. The few players we had rallied and brought their sticks outside to throw the ball around. Admittedly our rag-tag bunch more closely resembled high school friends than we did an international squad. At least we were together. We had made it. And no matter how small the group was we were beginning to get noticed. As afternoon turned to evening so did the conversation towards the imminent arrival of the second wave of players and managers, all of who were due in sometime around midnight.

Day 1 – Over the Rainbow

Saturday, July 5th 2014

China’s journey to America was fractured. We had no fewer than 7 separate groups of travelers making their way to Denver. Some players flew in early to tour around and some stayed late to do the same. Others showed up minutes before the first game while others literally hitchhiked to get there. This may not have been the most unified effort, though slowly but surely, we began to look like a team.

Upon arrival in Denver players were introduced to a myriad of new concepts: wild rabbits, defensive 2nd slides, tornados, hailstones, sausage, and the all you can eat buffet.

Reality check #1.

The ride from the airport was a stark wake up call for some who had placed Denver, the idea at least, high on the list of glamorous places to celebrate. We were somewhere around Glendale, on the edge of the prairie, when reality began to take hold.

Aboard the campus shuttle one of our attack players, Li Ming, remarked with disgust, ‘There are no tall buildings here.’ The deflated tone in his voice was obvious. Much of the ride was silent as players searched the horizons for lights or any signs of life. The passing of a lone wild rabbit created the closest thing to a discussion.

For those who have grown up in a population exceeding 24 million the barren landscape of rural Colorado must have had them thinking we’d landed at the wrong airport. I had a feeling we were not in Shanghai anymore.

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To Dallas, and Beyond!

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As of now, Coach Elefante is already in Denver along with a handful of players and staff. I’m sat on the tarmac in Shanghai waiting for the go sign from air traffic control. I have 5 players with me and constitute the first real wave of lacrosse players from China to go to the US. Although not 1 of the 5 have ever left China before they’re all excited to get there and see what it’s all about.

In the past few weeks all final checks were made to get this party started. Li Ming was extremely lucky when, after much delay, his passport and visa arrived in his hands a mere 20 hours before today’s flight. With his new prized possession he joins Ji Xiang, Gao Zhiqiang, Yuan Yifan, Zhang Yongchang and myself for this non-stop flight from Shanghai to Dallas and then on to Denver sometime much later this evening.

After months of training the only thing we have left to do is sit back and let the pilots do the rest. See you all in Denver!

Celebrate Together

From June 2nd, 2014

In China today is 端午节 duān wǔ jie, known in the west as the Dragon Boat Festival. The holiday commemorates the life Qu Yuan, a poet who was the great friend and confidant of the Emperor during the warring states period. Across China the occasion is celebrated by having a day off from school, work and the custom of eating the famous 粽子 (rice dumplings).

There’s another reason to celebrate in China as today Team China announces a complete roster for the World Championship. After a steamy Saturday and stormy Sunday the final selections have been made. The players rewarded with the opportunity were done so for their skills, determination, fundamentals, and a ‘never give up’ attitude that the coaches feel is essential for the future of China Lacrosse. Congratulations to all players who have competed for this momentous opportunity.

The path to Denver gets shorter day by day but we will shift our focus to team unity now that tryouts are over. Team marshals are completing most of the behind the scenes paperwork necessary for sending international teams abroad. This includes, but is not limited to: fundraising, VISA applications, flights, room and board concerns, securing equipment, field time, international phone cards and much, much more.

Denver’s Final Cuts

From May 31st, 2014

This weekend China Lacrosse will make its’ final selections for the team it will send to Denver for the 2014 FIL World Championships. Most rosters spots have been secured already but there are still three spots yet to be filled. The coaches are putting the team through their paces in order to decide the remaining selections.

Attack and defensive positions are all accounted for so the focus is on the midfield. This weekend 7 players are vying for the last 3 available slots and the chance to realize the opportunity of a lifetime. In a few short weeks those chosen will march into a stadium, on the other side of the world, proudly wearing their national colors on a grand stage that few will ever experience.

The gloves fit

Coaches and staff are working hard to finalize travel plans for the players. All flights have been secured and the next step is obtaining the VISAs. This Thursday players are scheduled to meet with the VISA officers to plead their case in order to be issued this crucial document. Admittedly the Shanghai staff have been scrambling to balance their day jobs with their true passion. As the VISAs are acquired the journey becomes more and more realistic. With luck on our side the two largest pieces of the puzzle, flights and VISAs, will be completely paid for and secured by early next week. With just over three weeks remaining before the opening ceremonies in Denver we’re cutting it close but lacrosse in China is all about overcoming challenges.

Noting that only 23 days (depending on your time zone) separate the surreal from the real, coaches are keen to ensure the players are physically ready for the challenge. Conditioning has become a large part of the training regimen as agility and endurance are paramount to a successful squad.

Saturday’s practice was sunny and hot. Key concepts for the day were positioning, possession, and quick decisions. Players were rewarded with sprints, push ups and 4 hours in the sun. Despite these hardships players will forever remember Saturday’s practice as the day they received their brand new Team China gloves. The arrival of the
gloves has firmly placed the tournament in the players minds as well as their grasp.

Chinalax.jux.com

A site dedicated to showing you the China Lacrosse team created by coaches and staff. Come check out the photos, the players, the coaches, team’s progress, and what it looks like to be a top dog in China!

INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED 4/25/2014 ENDED 6/9/2104

China Lacrosse Received Your Support!   …. we launched our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign with a terrific video and bodacious perks for donations. We  received over $20,000 in donations from friends and family on both sides of the Pacific. Some wonderful people have stepped up and made contributions both within the Indie effort and by direct contribution to the FIL. Thank you everyone!  You are now part of the Team China Family!

We are extremely excited to be able to take our team to Denver. There are some challenges ahead but we will be so proud to be there as China Lacrosse.

This video will remain on display here but we hope to be presenting the story of our “Road to Denver” in photos posted on Facebook and Smugmug* as well as on this website.  *See our gallery page for details.

Come join our supporters at

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/china-lacrosse-needs-your-support

 

 

Indiegogo Screen shot

 

Team China 2014 player profiles

player_TBuchan#8 Tyler Buchan
Wheeling Jesuit University  Class of 2015
Plays attack on WJU Cardinals NCAA Division II
Hometown      Burnaby, British Columbia
Participated in the 2013 ASPAC Tournament in Beijing
Villanova at Headstrong Ridley Oct 6 2012  54269
#28  Michael Tsiang
蔣定民
Villanova University School of Business  Class of 2015
Plays face-off middie on Villanova Wildcats NCAA Division I
Hometown     Summit, New Jersey
Participated in 2012 Shanghai Cup lacrosse competition
Matt Bailey
#6  Matthew Bailey
Simon Fraser University, Health Sciences  Class of 2016
Plays mid-field/face-offs on Simon Fraser Clan, MCLA Div 1
Hometown      Richmond, British Columbia
Participated in 2013 ASPAC  Tournament in Beij 

 

 

 

 

 

DylanDylan Bassham (#36)

汪瀚

Rollins College, International Business Major, Asian Studies Minor,

Class of 2017

Face-off/ Offensive Midfield

Hometown    Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

Participated in 2013 ASPAC Tournament in Beijing.

 

WE HAVE A LOT MORE TO COME!

STAY IN TOUCH AND WE WILL POST UP ALL 35 PLAYERS ON OUR DENVER TRAINING ROSTER.