NAU Soccer Spain Tour: Blog #3
Blog Written by Elinor Priest
Today was another full day in Spain. This morning we got onto the bus and drove northeast to a small town founded by the Romans almost two thousand years ago called Girona. Now it is a quaint, artsy town lying next to a river with narrow cobblestone streets, small interesting shops, and a beautiful architecture. As a team we walked through a museum that featured part of a wall from when the Romans built the city, a tapestry from 1535, children's drawings depicting World War II, an original printing press, and many other artifacts. May 16 also happened to be our assistant coach Holly Jones' birthday, so on the steps to the cathedral we sang her Happy Birthday.
After Girona, we drove to see the Salvador Dali Museum in Figueres located on the Spanish side of the French border. It was an extremely bizarre experience. Dali's art falls under the category of surrealist, and it's aptly called that. To say his work is mind boggling and odd doesn't even begin to describe the way his works make your brain contort trying to figure out just what you're looking at. The museum is located in the house where he once lived, and even the house is surreal. It had circular hallways, steps where you walked through a mouth into a corridor, and seemingly hidden rooms. Luckily, I walked through the museum with Alana D'Onofrio and her mother, Kathy, who had some familiarity with his works. She helped explain that the reason that many of the works don't have a name and year by them is that he wanted to leave as much of his work up to the imagination of his viewers as possible. This also is the reason that there aren't many guided tours of the museum. As an artist, he didn't want to explain what he was trying to accomplish in each work.
After the museum, we were all hungry. Lunch was another delicious meal at a local restaurant. Then we got back on the bus and drove to our second game against CE Sant Gabriel. Their professional women's team is in the Boca del Rei quarterfinals along with FC Barcelona this weekend. Since they had such an important competition coming up, they decided not to play us and instead we played one of their amateur teams. Although it had been a bit rainy off and on during the day, we had a gorgeous night under the lights to play soccer. CE Sant Gabriel is a large soccer club with some thirty soccer teams on the men's and women's side. The team we played had multiple girls committed to Division I soccer programs for the upcoming year and was a good side. Nonetheless, after a tied first half, we came up with a 3-0 win. The first goal was scored by Cierra Gamble on a sliding shot past the keeper, then Cassie (Cassidy) McClean slipped a goal in after making a great run to get open, and Mary Harrah's first collegiate goal came off a header on a corner kick.
The trio's international goals bought us our first win in Spain. After the game we mingled and exchanged gifts with the other team at their clubhouse. It was gratifying to see their excitement over NAU t-shirts as they immediately pulled them on. We tried to explain what the phrase "I Bleed Blue and Gold" meant, but I'm still not sure that idiom crossed the language barrier correctly.
The drive back to the hotel was loud and boisterous. Especially after a long day, a win always feels good.
After the packed days we've had in Spain, the 17th marked a nice lull in the schedule. Rather than have organized activities, (head coach) Andre (Luciano) gave us the day to do as we wished from breakfast until dinner. We split into smaller groups and were able to choose from the variety of options that a city like Barcelona offers. Some of us walked down past the harbor to the beach, others walked around and shopped, explored the metro system, traveled up to the Olympic stadium (that is currently hosting the X Games), went to the Picasso Museum, slept, or some mix of them all. For Alexia Gonzalez, I have to imagine it was the perfect way to spend her nineteenth birthday.
After we met back up in the hotel, we all showered off the Mediterranean Sea, napped, or otherwise relaxed and then went to dinner. There, we were nicely surprised by a visit from Kendra Teesdale, an NAU 2012 alum and teammate, and Pascal Tang, another NAU sports alum (Track and Field). They are living in Belgium and took the opportunity to come say hello and see Barcelona. It was fun to see Kendra again and hear about her life in Europe. The NAU soccer program is a family, and once a sister always a sister no matter where we are in the world.