Friday, August 20, 2010
Basketball Tournament and Footy Galore!
My sincerest apologies for the lack of updates about my life recently, I’ll try my best to make up for it with a mondo post this time. Australian life is wonderful, busy, magical, and full of excitement and new experiences!
Yesterday, Cassie and Sam (two study abroad girls) and I traveled to Perth to participate in a mixed basketball tournament with 5 other Universities from the Western coast of Australia. We spent the hour drive (which was a crazy experience by itself! The whole trip I was squeezing the armrest with white knuckles because I kept constantly thinking we were speeding towards a head on collision; I still haven’t gotten used to the whole left side of the road thing. I actually climbed into shotgun and was shocked when the steering wheel was located on the opposite side. Bizarre.) talking to a couple of Australians about all kinds of differences in culture between down under and the states. Anyhoo, the tournament itself was a blast; it felt fantastic to finally run full court 5 on 5 again and fill a serious basketball void in my life since I have left America. We played 5 games, with a variety of results: several close games, one game where we massacred the opposition, and one where we were tied at half time but ended up losing by 15. At the days end, we finished third in the standings, which I thought was pretty impressive. One of the things that everyone on our team found strange and ridiculous was one of the rules implemented during the tournament, which I will try my best to explain (but I will probably fail miserably because the rule is so inexcusably absurd). They divide the court into two halves, one half that has regular rules that are logical and make sense, and one half where only female players can enter the key. While this may sound acceptable on paper, it makes absolutely no sense during game play and completely disrupts the flow and integrity of the sport. What this rule means is that on one side of the court, guys cannot set foot inside the key (also referred to as the “paint,” the large colored area inside the three point line). If one of the male players accidently sets a toe inside the paint, a penalty is called and the other team receives the ball automatically. For instance, if a female player on the other team is on a fast break and I’m on defense, I can’t run into the paint to defend her; instead, she can run into the key unopposed and shoot a wide-open lay-up. Complete and utter bullshit. It basically meant that on one half of the court, the male players helplessly stood around the three point line while the girls battled it out down low. Even the girls on our team hated the rule because it made it so that on one half of the court guy players couldn’t rebound either, which really hurt us because all our girl players, although quite talented (Cassie actually plays for her school back home), all are around 5 foot 4 and point guards, not post players. I apologize to those who do not give a flying flip about basketball and did not understand this paragraph, but to all those who do hopefully you can realize what a silly and illogical rule this is. Other than this incomprehensibly stupid rule, the tournament was so so so much fun and it was great meeting and playing with local Australians (who were all very nice, competitive, and welcoming)! Truly a great experience! My thumb survived the tourney (albeit with quite a bit of athletic tape for support) and is making a solid recovery.
Last weekend, all of the American study abroad students were treated to a truly unbelievable spectacle: our first professional Aussie Rules Footy game! We watched the local heroes the Fremantle Dockers take on the villainous and hated Sydney Swans. In addition to a spectacular display of athleticism and skill in this sport, we were also treated to many rowdy local fans who had no problem drunkenly (at 1 P.M. I might add) cursing the Swans and yelling obscenities with thick Aussie accents. Although the intense game came down to the final seconds, it ended in defeat for the poor Dockers. It was a wildy entertaining day and the game was a great introduction to the sport and gave all of us Yankaroos a chance to better learn the rules and intricate strategies of this complex, strategic, and fun game.
Earlier this week we were able to put our new footy knowledge to the test in our first giant game/scrimmage. Our Resident Supervisor Nick plays for the med school footy team and they needed some extra guys to play so the “Yankaroos” decided to show up and give it a go. Thankfully, we were spared from a vicious and humiliating slaughter of a game because we were integrated into the med school team rather than it simply being our team of wide-eyed American Yankaroos vs. their bulky squad of athletes. However, the Americans certainly did stand out and there were several embarrassing moments for all involved (forgetting the rules, falling/slipping due to lack of cleats…whoops, and simply being wildly out of our league in terms of skill level). Nevertheless, the med team was very complimentary of our effort and play and I would say that for a first attempt it went extremely well. I spent the first half playing defense, which was fun but not as action packed as some of the positions in the midfield. At half-time, I switched positions with a very important player, the Ruck. Every time a team scores, the refs bring the footy back to the center of the oval and have a version of a jump ball, where they toss the ball high into the air and the two Rucks sprint, jump, and collide as they try to tip the footy to their teammates. The Ruck is very similar to the center in basketball, however these jump balls occur dozens of times throughout the game due to the amount of scoring that occurs, making the Ruck an integral part of the team (the advantage that comes from gaining dozens of extra possessions per game on these jump balls is HUGE). I was able to utilize my height and jumping ability to win many of these jump balls and I thoroughly enjoyed playing in the midfield and being more involved in the game (even though it meant getting hit more often and taking more of a beating!). Several of my Australian teammates were very complimentary of my skills as a Ruck; I think I may have found my go to position! In addition to this game and kick-arounds that occur on Mondays, the Yankaroos have started practices on Wednesday and Friday nights and I feel like in addition to having fun playing, we are all improving and are starting to learn the fundamentals of how to play properly.
Other fun tidbits of information from the past couple weeks:
-Inter-hall shield competitions are as fun and exciting as ever! This week we were introduced to continuous cricket and took second place in an intense battle. Last week, I participated in the Chubby Bunny contest. For those who don’t know what the heck “Chubby Bunny” is, allow me to explain. This game involves a tremendous amount of strategy, mental focus, intimidation, coordination, and overall skill. It involves shoving as many marshmallows as you can into your mouth without choking, chewing, swallowing, or vomiting. However, after every ‘mallow you cram into your mouth, you have to yell the words Chubby Bunny! Using a combination of stamina, tremendous talent, and some massive chops, I was able to win the combination with some disgusting amount of marshmallows (I think somewhere between 15-19, at some point I lost track) stuffed and packed into my gaping mouth. Needless to say, this moment will forever be imprinted in my memory and the glory I felt will burn eternally (for those who have any doubt, yes I am employing the infamous Jansa sarcasm).
-Classes are going well, but essays are beginning to have looming due dates and the stress levels amongst the study abroad students has begun rising at alarming levels. Fortunately, I have been able to maintain my true nature of procrastination and my “no worries” attitude, and have thus avoided too much stress.
-A group of P and O-ers, including myself, have all successfully booked a trip to Thailand for our mid-semester break! I could not be more excited!!!
I hope all is well back in the states, I know many friends are taking off for their own study abroad adventures to Italy, Argentina, Etc… and I wish you all the best of luck on your travels! Stay in touch! Others are preparing to go back to Spocandyland for some Gonzaga fun and frolic and I will be there in spirit for the shinanegans that will surely abound. Until next time, cheers!!!
p.s. just a heads up but my email has changed from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com