Field Hockey's Spring Break England Tour Blog
Looking back on the 10 days we spent together in England, I speak for the whole team when I say we had an unforgettable time! Not only did we get to travel together, but we also had the amazing opportunity to experience hockey at the international level. From our training sessions to our games, this was the first time for many of us to witness how hockey is played in other countries.
What is so special about England, is that the hockey culture there is a part of mostly everyone's lives. If you are not competitively playing it, you are competitively cheering on your favorite team. It is a hard concept to grasp, given that most people here in the states have never even heard of the sport. As my teammates have previously explained, we played some pretty skillful competition. As a team we learned that although we still have a lot to accomplish, we can pat ourselves on the back for all our hard work and dedication over the months leading up to this tour!
Aside from the hockey part of our trip, we made some great memories with each other as we visited different cities in England. London was by far our favorite. It is mind blowing that one city can have so much history!
Overall, we had an amazing tour. Lots of pictures were taken, lots of bread was consumed and a lot of time was spent sleeping on the bus rides. We want to thank everyone who was involved and who made everything possible. Also a special thanks to all our supporters and everyone who followed us over the 10 days! It was a trip that we will never forget!
Day Eight: Aimee Smith and Brittany Blass, Liverpool, England -- March 17, 2012
It was the last day for LC hockey in the United Kingdom, and it just happened to be St. Patrick's Day as well. Decked out in four leaf clover necklaces, earrings, and other festive accessories, we boarded the bus and traveled a few hours to Liverpool. To conclude the tour, we got the full sporting experience in England while watching Everton take on the visiting team from Sunderland in a match of football - or soccer - as us Americans call it. The boisterous fans made the game quite entertaining despite the fact that it ended in a 1-1 tie. The experience at the football game was much different from any American sporting event we have ever attended, due to the rowdy fans and the clear culture differences in England. It was great to see such an exciting match!
After the game, some of us bought souvenirs in the Everton club gift shop. Popular items bought among the team were Everton scarves, displaying the bright blue and white. After finishing some light shopping, we took a relaxing walk through a park near the Liverpool Football Club's stadium back toward the bus to return to Nottingham. The park was beautiful and seemed to be a popular spot for people to walk around with their pets.
We ended the week on a fun note at the last team dinner in England with our British friend Martin Jones. We went to a restaurant called the Slugs and Lettuce, which was right around the corner from our hotel. We celebrated a win for Martin's club hockey team, Beeston, who earlier in the day had beaten the top team in its league. We also displayed our gratitude for his tremendous help with organizing our tour by giving him a card, gifts for his new home and some LCFH gear to rock! At the end of dinner, our coaches presented awards to each person on the team for a range of different talents - most not even related to hockey, but all funny nonetheless. We were impressed by how clever and spot on the awards were for everyone!
All in all, it was a relaxing and fun filled day to end our tour through England. See you back in the U.S.! Cheers!!
Day Seven: Jenna Seybert and Maria Machalick, Repton, England – March 16, 2012
We went into today knowing it would be a hockey-filled day, but what we were not expecting was the breathtaking tour of our own head coach’s high school alma mater, Repton School. Martin walked us through the 400-year-old buildings and gave us a brief history of this amazing college-like campus before we headed out on the pitch for our second practice of the week. This practice was different though because we were not being coached by Andrew or Jennifer. Matt, a very skilled hockey player from the Beeston club came to Repton to coach LCFH!
Right when we finished up practice in the morning, we divided into groups and were each invited to have lunch with different boarding houses of girls that attend Repton. As my (Jenna) group walked to the boarding house with one English girl, there didn’t seem to be enough time to ask her all of the questions we had in our minds. The scenery was beautiful and the traditions of the students there were all so different, it was so much to take in! While eating a very proper lunch with the boarding house girls in their dining room, we were all so amused by the questions they would ask us, such as “Is your school in America like 90210?” and “Do you get a HUGE 16th birthday party like on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16?” and “What is Thanksgiving?”
After lunch, we coached a U13 boy’s hockey team on the pitch at Repton (or should I say- they coached us). With their effortless reverse chips and hard sweeps, they made some great competition for LCFH! Although they were much shorter than us, we did not underestimate their skills. It made for a fun afternoon of hockey and laughs.
In the evening we had our last game of the trip against Beeston. We got to the game early so we could catch the first half of the Nottingham University game. It was a big rivalry so there were stands were filled with cheerleaders and rowdy fans. Our Beeston game was a tough one but since it was our last, we gave it our best effort and ended on a positive note.
Day Six: Brianna Barry and Dana Thomas, Nottingham, England -- March 15, 2012
Unfortunately due to a road closure and extremely foggy driving conditions we did not arrive back at our hotel in Nottingham until 2:30 a.m. Thursday morning!
However, our coaches were gracious enough to push back the meeting time the next morning until 11:30. While some of us got up early to have the full English breakfast the hotel served each morning, the rest of us slept in and found a local restaurant. A team favorite was a place called Pancakes & More. At this local hot spot we ordered omelets, but instead of eggs, a thin ‘savory pancake’ is what held it together! Let’s just say we know what we’re entering the next time there is a suggestion box in Lower!
We then loaded our coach and set out on an adventure to Sherwood Forest in search of the heroic outlaw, Robin Hood and his Merry Men. We drove through the countryside as the anticipation grew before finally arriving at the edge of the forest ready to begin our historical journey. First, some of us had to find trusty walking sticks and Tiff and Katie, both history buffs, were, for some reason, set on finding us costumes to wear, such as green hats and bow and arrows, but didn’t have any luck. We followed the trail and kept our eyes peeled for foxes, because Robin Hood transforms into a fox so he can’t be caught. Unfortunately, we did not spot him.
We stopped to rest for a while at the Major Oak tree, which is said to be where Robin Hood hid out and where the Merry Men all met up. There were a lot of other great climbing trees. Kelsey Gula claimed, “Every time I look up Mara is up lying in a different tree.” Aimee also went missing for a little while, but no worries, she quickly turned up and we headed back to the coach and went on our way back to the hotel.
The rest of the afternoon we were free to do as we pleased. We parted ways and most of us went shopping at local flower and clothing stores. Our coaches went to watch our friend Martin’s team practice and then spent the evening with him, so we planned our own team dinner at a new favorite place, Pizza Express, that a few of us had gone to in London. We all enjoyed our meal together and then headed back to the hotel and prepared for a very, very long hockey filled Friday.
Day Five: Haley Keenan and Nicola Coakley, London, England -- March 14, 2012
After a busy day in London yesterday we slept in for a little this morning before heading to the train station. Upon arriving at Liverpool station the team walked to the Tower of London. After snapping a few team pictures we were free to explore the city for one last day.
The team split up into different touring groups trying to take in as much as possible! Here's a taste of two different (but obviously the best) travel journeys.
After our photo shoot by the river Kristin, Aimee, Kelsey, Hanna, Deanna, Carly and I (Haley) continued our life as tourists and made our way to the London Eye. After a few detours and finally asking for directions we were well on our way! The weather was perfect for a walk along the Thames River with Big Ben as the ideal backdrop. After crossing the bridge, we explored Trafalgar Square and Westminster Abbey. We figured rounding out the trip with a bike ride back to the train station would be a good end of the day activity. 45 minutes later we still couldn't figure out how to use the Barclays machine. Needless to say we ran (literally) to the nearest tube station to meet up with the team.
Unlike Haley's crew, myself (Nicola), Jess, Brittany and Emily had a bit more luck figuring out the bikes. Although it took us about an hour and three different bike stations, we eventually got bikes and rode then around Buckingham Palace and a few parks. We didn't know the rules of the road so things got a bit sketchy, but overall the bikes were worth the trouble.
Before biking we did some shopping on Oxford Street. Since our group had seen some of the major tourist attractions yesterday retail therapy seemed appropriate. Some of us found it a little hard to remember that the pound to dollar conversion is almost double...oops! All in all it was a successful seconds day in London.
After the wildlife cleared the tracks (we waited ten minutes for a swan) on the way back to Cheshunt, LCFH hopped on the bus to play Southgate Hockey Club. With goals from Hanna, Aimee, and Maria we closed the game with our first victory! We met with the team in their clubhouse for some bread and soup before heading back to Nottingham. Due to some unexpected traffic we didn't arrive back at the hotel until 2:30 am. After some storytelling and bus naps we headed to bed to rest up for our hike in the morning!
Nicola took plenty of candid blog pictures but we'll spare you the torture of solo shots of Haley!
Cheers! Cheerio! Over and Out!
Haley K. and her little leprechaun (Nicola)
Day Four: Kristin Heaney and Mara Kish, London, England -- March 13, 2012
We couldn't have had a better trip so far and Tuesday was no exception! It was our first day to sightsee in London, so LCFH split up and hit up all the major attractions. Each class went off together so we will give you the inside scoop on what the juniors and sophomores did, before all meeting up for dinner and the theatre!
The sophomores started our day off by going to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards and see the balcony where the famous Royal Wedding kiss happened, as we have a few fans of Prince William and Duchess Catherine. Next we walked alongside Hyde Park to find Knightsbridge for some shopping and lunch! Harrods was the destination we all had in mind, and we enjoyed every minute there (especially the time in the food hall with the chocolate!) After treating ourselves shopping we went to a really small and traditional English pub. We ordered shepherds pies and house roasts at the expense of following the no cell phone policy. It was great to experience real English cuisine and culture. Our last stop on our own was to Covent Garden to check out the markets and square. We met up with some other field hockey girls while grabbing some touristy gifts for our families and friends (okay and ourselves too!) As a group we had an amazing time seeing these famous sites, meeting local people, experiencing the culture and of course hanging out with the Gula's, Mrs. Viessman, and my Dad!! Personally, I was blissfully happy to be back to my old hometown and favorite city, and couldn't be more thrilled that I got to revisit my favorite places in London with some of my favorite people.
For the juniors we started at Westminster Abbey. Next, we stopped by the Prime Minister's house and walked down to the palace to see the changing of the guard. Then we hopped on the tube for some well deserved shopping time in Picadilly and Oxford Circus. After grabbing fish'n chips at Garfunkle's for a traditional English lunch, we then hit up the shops again, but not without a quick trip to Chinatown (it looks the same as any other Chinatown as noted by Jaclyn White). We then took a tea break after all that walking and finally found our way to the rest of the team at the restaurant.
After all of our exciting days we met up as a team with our parents and coaches in Little Italy, SOHO for a delicious pre-theater meal! After expanding our stomachs with a three-course meal we were off to see Lady Killers- or so we thought. After some directional confusion and a slight detour to the other end of the theater district, we made it to the play just a few minutes late. Lady Killers was a true British comedy which we knew was especially loved by Emily Valeo and Andrew Griffiths by their stand out laughs.
Although the play may have been targeted for a much older British crowd (reflected by our fellow audience members) it was still very entertaining, humorous and a great cultural experience. Our long day caught up with us on our train ride back to our hotel, so everyone was very happy to crawl into bed to prepare for another amazing day in London tomorrow. We couldn't be luckier with the unusually nice weather, but also with the amazing days we've been having!
Check back in tomorrow to hear about Day Two in London and the results of our game!!!
P.S. The person responsible for leading the walk from the restaurant to the theater would like to sincerely apologize for their poor guiding- but knows you all secretly enjoyed walking off dinner AND taking the scenic route!
Today was a day of travel. We woke up early, had breakfast in the hotel in Nottingham and then took our journey to London.
After a couple of hours of driving through the fog, we arrived in Cambridge and broke off into groups.
Both Jaci and I (Carly) went punting down the River Cam. We learned facts about Trinity College, including its rich history and it has Bridge of Sighs. In addition, we discovered how frightening swans can be and Hanna took her hand at punting. We found out that it takes a little practice.
That evening we had a game against the Old Lautonians where we got to try our skills out at an Olympic training site. We ate jacket potatoes with the team in their clubhouse after the match.
After our busy day we collapsed in our hotel rooms, and we are looking forward to an eventful day in London tomorrow.
Day Two: Kelsey Gula and Kelsey Mead, Nottingham, England -- March 11, 2012
Hi all! Day two in England is completed. We woke up around 9 a.m. Sunday morning and had a true English breakfast! Since we had the morning off, we split into groups to walk around Nottingham. Most of the girls went to check out Nottingham castle. It was fairly interesting to learn about the history of the castle, yet we seemed to show more interest in the Robin Hood exhibit where we could dress up in true medieval English garb (Jaci was Maid Marian).
Next it was off to Loughborough University to watch a field hockey match between Beeston and Loughborough. Our English friend and coach, Martin Jones, scored the game winning goal for Beeston. After the game we got ready for our own match and headed over to Nottingham. We fell to Nottingham 3-1 but the competition was terrific. Deanna DiCroce scored an amazing reverse shot off of a short corner.
In European style we met up with the team in the club house for some refreshments. The girls were very friendly and we exchanged school stories. Following the club house we ate dinner at Wagamama. We were ravenous from our intense and exhausting battle against Nottingham. Most of the girls had a little ice cream and went straight to bed to rest up for tomorrow's eventful day.
Day One: Hanna Sotiropoulos and Jessica Deutsch, Nottingham, England -- March 10, 2012
The team was excited to depart for England on Friday after classes. The trip to the airport went by in a flash and in a few short hours we were England bound. Adjusting to the time difference was hard at first; we were starting a new day around the time we would be going to bed in the U.S. After exploring Nottingham for a few hours, which is a really beautiful city, we rallied in time for practice at the Repton School- our coach Andrew's old high school. Upon arrival at the Repton School, there was a boy's field hockey game being played. It was amazing to see our sport played at such a different caliber.
After a successful practice we joined Martin, one of the Repton field hockey coaches, for dinner at the Boar's Head pub. The pub served us delicious gourmet brick oven pizzas including flavors like pineapple chicken and orange arugula. On the bus ride back to the hotel we enjoyed the countryside scenery and caught up on some lost sleep. We ended the day shortly after in preparation for our game on Sunday against Loughborough University.
Trip Preview: Emily Valeo, Easton, Pa. -- March 9, 2012
Greetings Leopard fans!
After almost an entire year of planning, fundraising and training, the long anticipated Spring Break 2012 has finally arrived for LCFH. In just hours, the Lafayette College Field Hockey Team will be en route to the British Isles for a weeklong tour in England! We have all been hitting the schoolbooks harder than ever in the past two weeks with midterm exams, so we are more than ready to get going!
There are various activities in store for us, but hockey is definitely the backbone of this trip and our main focus. While in England, we will have the opportunity to not only watch, but also play against, high level Club and University teams. In the past several weeks, our team has been working extremely hard on the field, in the weight room and in our conditioning, so we are definitely ready to face the challenge. We have talked a lot this spring about reaching a new level of performance and I think that learning from and being challenged by new styles of the game in England is something that will definitely help us move that much closer to achieving our goal.
I think that overall, what I'm most excited about is experiencing the hockey culture in England. From what I have heard, hockey there is very family and community oriented. I think that experiencing hockey as not just a game, but as something bigger than that - something that unites people of all ages into one community - is going to be a great bonding and eye-opening experience for us.
We have a pretty busy week ahead of us, with lots of hockey to be played, sights and shows to be seen, soccer ("football") to be watched and fish and chips to be eaten! Our coaches have worked so hard to make this experience special for us and we can't thank them enough!
That about wraps up your sneak peek into LCFH's Spring Break England Tour. I am anxious to see how our adventure unfolds and what England has in store for us! Stay tuned for daily updates from my teammates here on GoLeopards.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to hear the latest scoop on our travels!