Monday, June 9, 2014

Taking A Look Back On Our Trip...

Hello All!

As you can see it has been several days since we returned home from our trip to Amsterdam, Holland. Our travels back to the states weren't completely smooth with having to sit through a delayed flight, leaving some belongings at the security checkpoint, and a customs line that took about an hour to get through once we entered the states, but regardless, we returned home safely!

The general consensus from our team is that they were not ready to leave Holland and truly had the time of their lives the past ten days. As a team, we were able to experience so many amazing things that not many people will ever be able to say they have done! Our schedule throughout the trip was jam packed with many different experiences but we think that it is safe to say that in order to experience all the wonders of a new country you need to do as many things each day as you can. Judging from the coaches extreme exhaustion upon arriving back in the U.S. we're assuming that the girls were also exhausted as well.

Our travels around Holland were based on a wide variety of activities. The girls were able to experience Dutch history by visiting the Anne Frank House and Rijksmuseum. They were able to immerse themselves in Dutch culture by visiting famous Windmills in Holland, seeing the Red Light District, and visiting the famous cities of Alkmaar (Cheese Capital of Holland), and Delft (where the famous Delft Blue is sold everywhere!). Most importantly, we were able to see what the world of field hockey is really like outside of the states and what better place to do it than the best field hockey country in the world?? This trip fulfilled all of our expectations and throughout the ten days we were abroad we had the most amazing times we could have ever imagined!

As young adults it is important to experience as many things as possible in your life and to live each day to the fullest. Some of our ladies already have several stamps on their passports while other members of our team only just received their passports exclusively for this trip. Needless to say, it is evident that the members of our team have the travel bug and are eager to experience as much of the world as possible. What is unique about our trip is that the majority of the team will never be able to experience a brand new country with their teammates, best friends, and family like we have the past ten days.

Thank you all for keeping up with this blog and we hope that you have all enjoyed reading about our travels. Thank you for your endless support and should the time come for us ever to take a trip such as this again we know that our family, friends, and Elms College will always have our best interests at heart!


Elms College Field Hockey

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Closing Our Trip With Some World Cup Hockey Action!

Lets Celebrate Hockey!

Hello Elms College Field Hockey Friends and Family!

Today was our final full day in Holland; it is true that all good things must come to an end.  Therefore, we started our day bright and early at around 9 a.m.; we then were en route to the world cup for another thrilling day of watching amazing hockey.  We munched on bagels in the vans and found ourselves fully energized to start our 12-hour day outside. 

We arrived at the World Cup at around 10:30 a.m. which was when the first game of the day started.  This was a women’s hockey game featuring Belgium versus Australia. This was a very intense game and it seemed like most of the crowd was cheering for Belgium (at least the people behind us). The final score was 3-2 Australia, a very close game and even match up.  After the game, most people were hungry and ventured out to find food and also to shop for any World Cup apparel and trinkets.  We made our way to the marketplace with a wide variety of delicious food.  There were many options to choose from and it seemed like the homemade pizza was a favorite for everyone.   As we were finishing up our lunch, a storm (monsoon) began and it started down pouring but luckily we all hung out under the tent—thank goodness!  Luckily, the rain did not slow down our day one bit.  The storm passed over and was finished as quickly as it started and was gone about 20 minutes later. With the rain behind us we continued on to the next game of the day!

The second game of the day was the men’s teams Malaysia and England. This game was definitely more eventful than the first game of the morning.  During the first 5 minutes of this game a Malaysian player was injured because the England goalie came out to make a save and tackled the player in the meantime.  Unfortunately, the player was removed from the field on a stretcher and was unable to finish the must-anticipated game. Hopefully the athlete was okay! The English men scored two goals during the game while the Malaysians were unable to put one in the net.  The final score of the game was 2-0 in England’s favor.

After the game ended we found our way over to the smaller Greenfields Stadium across the way to watch the women’s game between Korea and Japan.  Luckily during the game the weather started to clear up and the sky was picturesque (blue skies and sun). The final score to the game was a tie between Korea and Japan. 

Next was yet another game! Can you believe it?!  It was now another time for a Men’s game between Belgium and Australia.  The Australins followed in the women’s footsteps and came out on top in this match.  The final score of this game was 3-1 Australia.

After this everyone took a little break from watching games.  Many people walked around the arena and have a little bite to eat (we are all extremely obsessed with the fries and mayo)!  We also found a nice area to sit outside and to enjoy the weather as it was warming up around mid afternoon.

The final game of the day was the game that everyone was so excited for!  The Netherlands versus New Zealand! The stadium was filled at the start of this game and most of the crowd was wearing some sort of orange apparel. There were countless fans with crazy outfits and hair do’s and the cheering and excitement carried throughout the entire stadium.  During many parts of the game the entire crowd participated in the wave, which was amazing to see! When The Netherlands first scored on a penalty corner the crowd went crazy! It was amazing to be at the World Cup with thousands of people supporting the Netherlands.  The Netherlands then scored another goal in the second half of the game.  The final score of the game was 2-0 in favor of the Netherlands. After the game the team even walked around the stadium throwing memorabilia to all the fans.  Fortunately, we were lucky enough to have the Dutch women toss a water bottle into our section.  The unfortunate part is that Abby dove for the water bottle and fell directly backwards into the seat while screaming the entire time. This is just one example of how it is hard to take our team out in public because we are always falling and making a scene. In the end, Marie ended up picking the water bottle up off the ground and Abby’s efforts were in vain.

It is hard to believe that 10 days have come to an end; it seems like we arrived at the airport yesterday! Our days were jam packed with amazing memories that will last a lifetime! A shout out to Coach’s for all of their hard work, this trip would not have been possible without you.  We are beyond thankful to everyone that helped us along the way and although the blog entries will stop within the next few days the memories will never fade.

The girls with the World Cup mascot Stockey!

Panorama of the main stadium.

New Zealand and the Netherlands lining up for their respective national anthems.

ECFH posing for a picture during the match between the Netherlands and New Zealand!

Sending all our love from Holland,

Hannah and Imogen 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

All About Hockey!

Hello Friends and Family,

          Today was our 7th and 2nd to last full day in Holland. For the first time of the trip we were able to sleep in and catch up on sleep. Many of us took full advantage and spent the morning in the extremely comfortable hotel beds. Others spent the morning buying some last minute souvenirs.

          We were picked up at noon by our dutch drivers to head to our driver Weiger's field hockey club. On our way to Rood Wit club, Weiger pointed out the numerous mansions surrounding the club. There were many million dollar homes in this suburban area. Once we arrived at the club we were served sandwiches for lunch and had time to ask questions about the background of the club teams and levels of competition in holland. We were able to learn about caps which are the amount of official international matches a player has participated in. This is how players are ranked at the national and olympic level.  We were amazed to learn that there are over 300,000 people playing field hockey in holland with hundreds of clubs. This specific club called Rood wit is the home to about 1800 field hockey players. This club has 5 turf fields and one mini field to practice corners. Rood wit means red and white which are the team colors of the club. Weiger one of our dutch drivers is the head coach of the 1st and top men's team at this club. This team would be considered semi-professional in US standards.
          After learning many great facts about the different levels of hockey in Holland, our team was able to participate in a clinic held by Karel Klaver, a former member of the dutch national team. He was also a member of the 2004 olympic team, 2004-2005 world cup team, Champions trophy 2004-2005, and the European championship team. Karel has 132 caps and was one of the top players in the world during his time on the national team.  The clinic was great and very informational. Karel, Weiger, and Rutger provided us with some new and fast pace drills including hitting, cutting, and sweeping.

         We all headed inside the club after the hour and a half clinic to rest up for our next match. At 6:00 we faced off against the  combined under 18 1st and 2nd teams.  We were able to utilize many of the skills taught in the clinic to improve against our very skillful dutch competition. We may have not pulled off a "W", but we played better than the first game and better in the 2nd half with the feedback provided by the dutch coaches.

        Today was a great learning experience for all of the players and coaches being taught by the best of the best. After finishing the match we headed back to the hotel for some delicious burgers and corn on the cob. It was another great day in holland and we can't wait for tomorrow to attend the World Cup for the 2nd time.

The Coaching Staff

This is the outside of Rood Wit Club.

This is the turf field on which our clinic and match were held. This is the only water turf at the complex.

Interesting statue outside Rood Wit. 

This is a picture of the top men's and women's teams at Rood Wit.

The inside of the club which is home to numerous events and post game gatherings.

Some of the girls out shopping this morning.

Team picture with Karel Klaver after the clinic.

Another picture of the girls shopping this morning in a giant wooden shoe.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

First Day of World Cup Hockey!

Hi Friends and Family!

               Today was our 6th day in Holland and we have adjusted pretty well. This morning we did not have breakfast at the hotel as we were going to the world cup! Instead, we had bagels in the vans on the way to the Hague. Some of us got lucky with regular cream cheese, and some did not, with salmon flavored cream cheese, but there were plenty of apples to go around!
               When we arrived at the World Cup, we were overwhelmed. There were so many shops of field hockey equipment and apparel. There was one large stadium called Kyocera Stadium and another smaller stadium called GreenFields Stadium. The first game was between the women from Germany and South Africa. We were all ecstatic to watch our first world cup game with  the Germans coming out strong with a 3-1 finish. For lunch, we went to a marketplace that was filled with fresh fruit and vegetables that was inside the world cup. There was pizza, pasta, a salad bar, smoothies and many other healthy options. Lunch was delicious as is all of the food we have had in holland! After lunch, the women from England and China faced off with China winning 3-0. In between the games we got to spend lots of time shopping and exploring the products and activities at the various tents. We were able to purchase many souvenirs for ourselves, our friends, and our family. It is going to be interesting trying to pack our suitcases to go home! 
               The third game of the day was New Zealand versus South Africa which was our first opportunity to watch some mens field hockey. It was unbelievable to see the level of skill and the speed of the game. This was the first time many of the players on our team have had the opportunity to watch mens field hockey. The New Zealand team ended up beating South Africa 5-0.  After watching the first half of the Germany versus Argentina men's field hockey game, we headed to the smaller stadium to stake out some good seats for the USA women's field hockey match. The interesting part about international field hockey is that there is a video review, which is called a video referral. Each team has one referral per game and can continue to use their video referral if the call is made in their favor. During the USA and Argentina  game, Argentina used the video referral multiple times. This was the game that we had all been looking forward to today. Most of the team put on face paint to show our USA team spirit. We met many other fans cheering for team USA, which was so exciting. It was amazing to see team USA play and to see the different levels of hockey. Team USA finished in a 2-2 tie with Argentina. There are no overtime periods in the first round of the world cup.
               We then went to our final game of the day, which was between the men from the Netherlands and Korea. This was one of the most exciting sporting events we have ever attended with the crowd going wild throughout the entire game!  During the game, one of the chants was “Holland,” which actually sounded like a multitude of things with various accents including hold on, hola, and hold them. It was kind of a struggle to actually figure out that they were chanting “Holland,” and coach was kind enough to help us out.The music was great and the crowd was pumped up dancing, chanting, and doing the wave. The crowd was full of orange apparel with many dutch fans in attendance. The Netherlands pulled off an amazing win with less than 2 minutes left in the game. The final score was 2-1. Field hockey in Holland is comparable to ice hockey in America and as we witnessed the Netherlands win and the fans go crazy, we joined right along with them! It was an experience of a lifetime. 
         After a great day at the world cup we came back to the hotel for a late dinner of pizza at the hotel. Now off to bed.

We love you all!
Colleen and Abby

This is the World Cup logo on the outside of Kyocera Stadium.

Above are the flags of all of the countries participating in the World Cup. There are 15 countries participating between men's and women's competition.

This giant globe is located at the entrance to the world cup.

Here is a team picture at the USA vs Argentina match.

 Above is a picture of team USA huddling to prepare for a corner.

This is a great panoramic photo from our seats behind the goal. This is inside the larger stadium, Kyocera Stadium.

At the start of the Netherlands game, the fans unraveled a giant Netherlands jersey.

The World Cup!!!

The USA field hockey team in action.

Some of the girls excited for their first game at the World Cup!

Enjoying our great seats in the 9th-10th row!

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Anne Frank House and More!

Greetings All!

It’s day five in the Netherlands and we have dodged our one hundredth bike. There have been some extremely close calls but we are anticipating that by the time we leave on Friday we will have learned to stop walking on the part of the sidewalks specifically for bikes. Like we said---some really close calls. The weather continues to be enjoyable and the temperature allows us to bring out some summer clothes. As the days go by our great memories continue to pile up!
Today we started the morning off bright and early. We woke up at 6 am to ensure that we arrived at the Anne Frank museum before the line got too long.  While waiting in line we played a fun game called Heads Up that had the entire team energetic and laughing (loudly). Our moods were quickly altered when we entered the museum. The story of Anne Frank was told through her diary entries that were expressed on the walls and through visual media. The experience proved to be very moving and many of the girls were experiencing strong emotions throughout the tour.  We were able to fully understand Anne and her families living conditions by being able to walk through the entire house that they lived in while they were in hiding during World War II. The extremely steep staircase that we were allowed to ascend was a feature that stood out in the museum because it led to the attic where Anne and her family spent two and half years in darkness and almost constant silence. Towards the end of the tour, a video of Anne Frank’s father, Otto Frank, showed an interview about Anne’s childhood. The most emotional part of his speech was when he talked about how parents don’t fully understand their child until they are gone. The daughter that Otto Frank thought he knew was completely different from the Anne Frank the world has grown to know and love through the publication of her diary. This experience was very intense and it was truly shocking to realize that this horrible event in world history actually occurred. We were all very touched by the whole experience and very thankful for the opportunity to experience the Anne Frank House. For many of the ladies on the team, this was the activity that most of us were most excited to participate in on this trip and were were not disappointed. We can now check this experience off of our bucket list.
            After the museum, we were given the rest of the day to explore—a rarity considering our jam packed schedule!  A few of us decided to visit the Heineken Brewery. After we found out that the walk would take around 30 minutes, we made the executive decision to take the train, also known as the tram.  As we prepared to get on the tram, we searched our pockets for the correct change and unfortunately watched as the Tram passed right by us. Our first experience with public transportation in Amsterdam was off to a rocky start. Once we managed to get on the correct tram, we had no idea where to pay so we quietly put our euros back into our purses, and got a free tram ride (shhh!). The Heineken Brewery was filled with the history of how Heineken was created and how the family business has flourished over the past century. There were many interactive experiences throughout the tour and all of us took full advantage of these opportunities. We were able to make our own music video for a Heineken advertisement, and pose for our own poster. We also were able to take Heineken pictures or videos and e-mail them to our family and friends. The tour ended with a 25 minutes boat ride to a different Heineken souvenir shop where we were given a lovely tour of the canals of Amsterdam. We were on our own for lunch, which lead us to a restaurant that served wonderful goat cheese and rested on the banks of the canals. 
            We ended the night with a quaint picnic on a boat throughout the canals. The evening was filled with laughter, music, great food, and a great team.  The girlfriend of one our favorite tour guides prepared the food and it was a delicious treat for all! There were a variety of foods that we were able to choose from including Dutch egg salad, potato salad, freshly baked bread, and much more!  The timing of the boat ride was perfect because we were able to catch the sun setting, which made a beautiful background for the photos that were taken.  We also met a young gentleman who followed our boat around for about 15 minutes. The curious thing about this fellow is that he showed no emotion whatsoever but continuously circled our boat and took pictures of us. It was an interesting experience and when he grew tired of our laughing and waving he jetted off down another one of the hundreds of canals in Amsterdam.

We have much more exploring to do and we are entering the final phases of our trip. Tomorrow is the day that we have all been waiting for: The World Cup!!!! We will be leaving bright and early to spend the ENTIRE day watching the best field hockey players in the world compete for the Gold!!!

Until tomorrow….

Tatiana and Emma

The team right before taking off on our boat canal tour and picnic dinner!

Some of ECFH in front of the Anne Frank House after our tour of the facilities.

The outside of the Anne Frank House--although it looks big the quarters Anne and her family stayed in for two and a half years was anything but spacious.

Coach Cosenza and Coach Carlson enjoying the boat canal tour. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

I Amsterdam!

Hey Folks!

We are now half way through our trip and are still moving full steam ahead with many different activities! We started the day with another delicious breakfast at the hotel followed by a walk through Vondel Park heading toward the Rijks Museum. Along the walk we spotted several well-behaved dogs, had to dodge a few bikes and even some runners as they participated in a local road race. As we neared the Rijks Museum, we passed the Van Gogh Museum and two "I Amsterdam" signs. The Rijks Museum, considered the pride and joy of Amsterdam, was a gorgeous building that could be seen from a mile away, with its intricate architecture and welcoming presence. This museum included many different forms of art, such as various paintings, statues, delf blue pottery, and a beautiful library that represented different time periods throughout history. While exploring, we came across a large section of "Special Collections," which included naval ships, old-fashioned clothing, antique umbrellas, and little trinkets for the dollhouses located in one of the sections of the museum. Though not all of us may be interested in art, there was a part of the museum for everyone to enjoy. It was a great experience that allowed us to learn about a different culture through forms of art and various artists.

After we finally found our way out of the museum, (we did get lost inside), we came across the "I amsterdam" sign and tried to take a team picture with everyone. However, we were not able to get the best photos in the world because the sign was full of people and our dear Stephanie decided to fall off the "M" on the "I Amsterdam" sign. After causing a scene where everyone in the vicinity went silent and stared, the mood was just not the same. Don't worry Mrs. Esposito--she's alright and is now coming home with quite the hilarious story (sorry Steph!).  It was then time to make our way to lunch at "The Dutch Co." which is a fairly new restaurant in the area. Most people were thrilled to see the option of BLT on the menu. The waitress also brought out a Dutch favorite, french fries with mayo, which were devoured in the blink of an eye. By the time we left, each plate was completely cleared of its previous contents for the first time since we've arrived in Amsterdam. The next stop was the beach and a casino, which took about an hour drive. Even before we reached the highway, many people were already asleep, still trying to adjust to the changing time, while others stayed awake to view the scenic route.

We arrived at the Scheveningen beach, which included the Scheveningen hotel, considered to be the fanciest hotel in the area. Before we stepped foot on the beach, we had the chance to pass through this hotel, which seemed endless with its many rooms and palace-like features on our way to the boardwalk. Stepping out of the hotel we witnessed a beautiful scene that took our breath away, with its ongoing boardwalk and calming beach scene. We kicked off our shoes and headed for the ocean water, so that we could say we experienced a Netherland beach and waterfront. While we made our way through numerous shops along the boardwalk to buy more souvenirs that won't fit in our suitcases, others headed toward the casino to try their luck with the hopes of winning back money they have spent; they were met with a dresscode and entrance fee. Next, we came across an outdoor restaurant with many couches that allowed us to kick our feet back, relax, and enjoy the sun, which you don't always get in the Netherlands. After some time, we craved some gelato and tried various flavors. After experiencing the beach scene, we met at a McDonalds, where we found the vans ready to take us to dinner.

To Mr. Reid's request, we sat down for a nice, juicy steak at "Cafe Loetje Amsterdam." This steakhouse is considered the most popular in the area, living up to its expectations with not an empty table to be found. Again, this meal was a favorite among everyone, even Mr. Reid, given two thumbs up and cleared plates. We once again walked through Vondel Park to make our way back to the hotel, but first took a detour to the "I amsterdam" sign, which had been an item on our list, which we could now cross off. After waiting until it was clear, we each ran to a letter and posed for a picture. As we viewed the pictures, we found that we were too small and could't make everyone's faces out. We decided to do a group picture in front of the sign, rather than standing within the letters. Once we finished the pictures, we went back to the hotel where we had the rest of the night off, free to explore the area in small groups. After a busy day of walking and exploring, we are excited to see what the rest of the week will bring.

Samantha and Haleigh

The coaches hanging out on the "I amsterdam" sign!

Lounging on the couch at a local cafe on the boardwalk.

Ready to go inside Holland's biggest and best casino!

"Wake me up when I'm famous" Tatiana and Coach Carlson's motto for the remainder of the week.

Sam and Haleigh enjoying the beautiful weather we were so lucky to experience at the beach.

ECFH hanging out at the fountain near the museum.

ECFH "I amsterdam" sign round two. What a great group photo!!!