I think we expected Fear and Loathing in Vancouver. When Sports Editor Mike Attersall and I stepped on board WestJet flight 33, we weren't armed with pills and booze but we may as well have been. We had money, which was just as good, and we had high expectations. We were young, resourceful, intelligent, independent, and really, really, ridiculously, good looking. We were also on a crash course with some great company--the Dinos men's and women's soccer teams were in town for their annual three game West Coast swing.
I always wondered how much fun a road trip with this crew would be. There's some great characters on both sides of the gender line, and as a transplanted Polak, I feel quite at home with this multiethnic bunch.
Whether it's men's Head Coach Andy Gibbs and his West London roots, or Jaana Koponen's Stockholm accent, this group reminds me of a place I left long ago.
The soccer community is a vibrant example of Canada's melting pot. On Thursday, when the Dinos played Trinity Western University in Langley B.C., the women won 2-1 on a soft goal by Jessica Horning and a brilliant strike by rookie Stephanie Hoogveld. Horning, not unlike Sports Editor Mike, is "Canadian," or rather she is a mixture of all things from the Old Continent. Mike himself is Portuguese, Spanish, British and Filipino. He speaks French too, which by default makes him Pierre Trudeau's wet dream.
The men's game followed and lasted
deep into the night. It ended in a 1-1 draw; Matt Damon look-alike Jon Remmer volleyed the ball into the net for a 1-0 Dinos lead. Trinity got the goal back, and controlled the second half, so much so that it took a heroic effort by keeper Doug Bourne to maintain the result.
After the game, we all met at Boston Pizza. I discussed photography with women's Assistant Coach Gord Ramsay, a burly Scot who was kind enough to let me use his camera all weekend long.
I left the restaurant slightly wiser, I learned that goalkeeper Charlotte Sullivan was the largest baby ever born in a hospital in Charlottetown P.E.I. She weighed in at over 12 lbs, which made her over three-times as big as teammate Hema Chengkalath.
Our next stop was the team hotel near downtown Vancouver. We were armed with my aunt's minivan and
$160 worth of beer. It was Julia Mathison's birthday, and the team had a day off Friday. Mayhem ensued. I don't know the logic behind placing
a sports team in a hotel with a casino, but apparently, someone thought it would be a good idea. Ha! Main observation from the night: ethnic
or not, 18-year-old rookies can't drink.
Two days later, the women took on the UBC Thunderbirds and lost 1-0. Mike and I stayed on campus at UBC, and rampaged through residence on Friday night. I think we met Kristine Jack at a UBC swim team party on the tenth floor and she scored from the penalty spot to defeat the Dinos Saturday morning. Small world.
On the men's side, the scrappy Calgary side beat the heavily favoured
T-Birds 2-1. Luis Morales headed home the first goal and forward Marty Marshall saved the day scoring on a well-timed strike from the top of the box. Funny story; Assistant Coach Gord Franson found a four-leaf clover and gave it to Marshall before the match.
In great spirits, we took off for the ferry. We missed it by ten minutes, so we waited two hours, but somehow, time passed by.
We got to Victoria and went to the pub. The coaches went for Rusty Nails
at the Empress Hotel (where they charge $45 for afternoon tea) while we took the starving student route. We had a beer and it looked like a chill night until we went back to the hotel and poor Matt Houston (the most popular man on campus) got duct-taped.
Good times. Even Matt laughed.
The teams got off to bed, but for Mike and I, the night was young. We briefly visited Victoria's worst cougar den, but we ended up at Lucky's, a club that resembles Calgary's Embassy. Injured Jessie Lail came with us and taught me the value of rye and water--you consume alcohol and you remedy a hangover at the same time. Only a Canadian-born Indian could come up with that.
On Sunday, the Dinos took on Victoria. Both Calgary teams lost 2-1, and in both cases, a soft goal by the home team cost them the game. Luis Morales and Jessica Horning scored for Calgary, but that wasn't nearly enough for points against the tough Victoria teams.
All that was left now was a ferry ride back to Vancouver; a lonely ride since the teams flew back from Victoria.
Katie Lee came with us and it was Mike and I who got grilled with questions for a change.
Katie now has dirt on me, but it doesn't matter. Nothing mattered when the sunset hit the water or when the moonlit ferry docked at Tsawwassen. It certainly wasn't Fear and Loathing, but rather a quaint, refreshing experience, quite detached from the byline, the scoresheet or even reality itself.
More photos of the trip and the games will be up shortly.