The time has seemed to slip through my hands since the last time I sat down to write a new blog. The departure from Beijing was sad, but I had no time to think about the reality. My new reality was beginning so fast that I found it hard to catch my breathe.
After landing into Philadelphia International Airport on August 23, I could not wait for my head to hit the Marriott pillow. It was my first night in an American hotel, but there was many more nights like this to follow.
The alarm soon sounded and it was time to get up because Junior FC was flying in from Barcelona that afternoon and I wanted to make sure we had everything organized. I was excited to tour around the U-18 club team for the next ten days. We would see Washington DC, Philadelphia, and end with 5 days in New York City.
Our first stop was Bethesda, MD where we would stay for the next few nights. The time in the DC metro area was packed with lots of hockey, sightseeing, and of course, great meals. We played the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, and American University. It was fascinating to watch the eyes of each player as we toured around the campuses. They were in amazement at the enormity of the school’s athletic facilities, dormitories, and mainly the cafeterias. They have never seen so much food in one room in their lives. A common phrase often slipped through the lips of each girl, “this is like the movies!”
Much fun was had in Washington DC as the team was split into groups and sent off for a treasure hunt around the White House and monuments. Pictures were taken and the staff would evaluate the photos and decide on the ultimate champion. The kids were exhausted from chasing the prize and we were awarded a great laugh just peaking at their pictures.
No rest for the weary! It was off to Philadelphia to take a look at Constitution Hall, the Liberty Bell, and of course, more hockey games! We played Drexel University upon arrival and at Temple the next day. The Temple hockey team gave us a wonderful tour of the city. It was nice for the two teams to interact and great for the Spanish players to learn about the city from “the locals.” The next day, we would make a pit stop at the Philadelphia outlets so the players could spend their dollars wisely with the hopes of topping off the shopping in New York City.
Our next five days were more then the group could imagine. It was all smiles as they won the Big Apple Hockey Tournament (granting them a $5,000 check), explored nearly every inch of Manhattan, and took their first ever Limo ride through the Big Apple. It was an exhausting trip for me, but worth every minute of it to watch the excitement on their faces.
What can I say?……it’s time for some rest! Until next time, Take care!
Keli Smith Puzo is a two-time Olympic Field Hockey player, Wife to Inako Puzo, head coach at Miami University, Mother of two young boys and your everyday kind of gal trying to keep it all together.