Follow the happenings of an animated college tennis coach and his teams in their pursuit of an NCAA National Tennis Championship. It is always the impressive trophy that is displayed for all to admire that gets the attention, but it is the journey to claiming that trophy, the relationships built, the people served and the memories created, that live forever...and what I hope you will find interesting...
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
We were rained out today and will play tomorrow at 8am. If we win, we will play again in the afternoon. A tough task for sure for any of the teams advancing but I would certainly like to be advancing...
Yes sir, more waiting. Well, I guess not just waiting in general, but waiting to play our match. Trying to find out if we are on time.
Actually had a little NCAA sponsored breakfast today. Enjoyed some unripe fruit and murky coffee. Did the trick. Met up with a few of the guys that wanted some eats before the 9am cut off. I must give props to good old coach Tarangioli who suggested a gym visit. Thus, we went to get our workout on. Oddly, as mentioned earlier, there is a $5 daily fee to use the hotel gym but we coughed up the cash. I tried to charge it to the room of Lynn Coach Mike Perez but it was a cash only establishment.
In any case, the gym offers 360 degree views of the Ohio which made the treadmill a nicer experience. Not that impressed with the weights and so forth but what can you do.
We will get a bit of a hit at the off site courts perhaps and then over for the match at 5pm...we hope.
You can follow along here I hope. If not try this one and click on our match and then to live stats.
Off to Panera for lunch my friends. I hope to have good news for you later.
Another day in Louisville folks and I guess I just think it is time to get this thing started. Lets play some tennis. Of course, with our starting time of 5pm, which could be delayed, who knows if we will get on the courts at all. I guess we could shorten the NCAA sanctioned 15 minute pre-match warm-up if we need to.
We had a nice day touring the area and learning a bit about legendary explorers Lewis and Clark and also York. Also, over to Panera for lunch and a team's worth of cinnamon rolls. We did indeed venture over to the Tom Sawyer courts for a 3pm practice. However, the site is a bit of a hike from the hotel...not particularly ideal honestly. As luck would have it, the NCAA actually let our entire team party of 11 step foot onto the site. That is a win for sure.
The fellas look pretty solid and ready to battle versus Grand Canyon University. I had a chance to watch our opponents play as they were also practicing at Tom Sawyer. They looked very strong to me and this will certainly be a tough match. I would not be surprised to see a 5-4 either way. The one difficulty is that there are no lights at the site and given our late starting time, I worry that we may not get the match finished before darkness. Who knows, maybe it won't be what I expect.
We crossed the Ohio river to Indiana for dinner at the Outback Steakhouse as per the players wishes. Of course, after steak the night before, I was not ready to stomach another slab of cow. Thus, I had the shrimp and a delicious sweet potato. Not bad.
We had a brief team meeting to remind the players of what to expect and then off to the hotel atrium again for some mingling. We were blessed by a cameo guest appearance by NCAA National Women's Coach of the Year Simon Earnshaw from Armstrong Atlantic. Simon is always good for a good story or two and many laughs. He has done a great job this year and really deserves any recognition available. I can only hope that some day I am able to figure out how to achieve such success and how to distribute the "bags of cash".
Well it is definitely bed time for Bonzo. Of course, I really do not need to rise early as I do not need to adhere to the NCAA breakfast schedule as I am still not credentialed. However, I need some rest and I would like to get to the hotel gym tomorrow. I may have to go to the ATM though as the Galt House hotel actually charges a daily or weekly fee to use the facilities...a great policy for an athletic national championship event full of athletes don't you think?
I look forward to the arrival of Ivan and Kathy of our Concordia athletic administration. They are so helpful to us and really add to our chances of winning matches down here. We will see them tomorrow.
Well I am up. Maybe the only one. I finally got tired of touring the hotel and looking at the ceiling above my bed, which thankfully is clean (the ceiling and the hotel by the way). So here is a post:
As mentioned, the hard-working coaching staff did head over to Morton's Steakhouse for a meal last night. I think we deserved it. Sadly, the NCAA does not allow for more than your traveling party of 9 to attend the opening ceremonies. Thus, our players went to Churchill Downs without us as we have brought along 9 players. Too bad for me as a huge horse racing fan but maybe another time. In any case, the reviews were positive and those that were able to attend had a nice time. We certainly ate well at Morton's and it helped to ease the disappointment.
We met up with coaches Schwartz and Tasso in the hotel atrium for the remainder of the NY Rangers game and enjoyed the fellowship and the 3-0 win for the blueshirts. Glad the bartender, who resembles the lead singer for the popular 80's progressive rock band "The Thompson Twins", was able to find the game and actually say a few words. He was about as sullen a fellow as you will find and probably better suited to be a night watchmen with no necessary human interaction.
The bed felt pretty good at the end of the day. I had the room temperature down to about 63 F so a good sleep avec (French for with) ear plugs was had by me. Again, no access to the breakfast as we only have 9 passes hence the hotel tour and search for some sustenance.
Let's see what the day has in store for us. We plan to practice at the tournament site at 3pm so perhaps I will find the hotel gym for a workout. Also, I would like to walk around the neighborhood and see what is out there. I hope I will be let onto the tournament grounds by the NCAA. Who knows...
Well, we arrived safely and are ready to begin the quest. A bit of an early start via Southwest Airlines as we were on the 7:30am flight to Louisville through Baltimore. Of course, gone are the days of getting to the airport 20 minutes before departure. As a result, an unfriendly 4:45 alarm this morning.
This was my first time flying Southwest and experiencing the no assigned seat policy. However, not to worry, I was in group A, which is good, for both legs of the trip and found myself in the aisle and bulkhead. Not too shabby Clipper fans.
We are staying in the Galt House, in downtown Louisville which overlooks the Ohio river.
We enjoyed a bit of lunch and then off to the practice courts. We had to find our own accommodations as practice in not allowed at the tournament site until tomorrow. We found courts at Central Park just a few miles away and were surprised to find very nice courts...far better that what we experienced at Merrimack. Very nice temperatures today and pretty decent hitting. We hit for about an hour and then vacated the courts to a patiently waiting Ouachita Babtist squad. Had a chance to meet Coach Ward, a nice guy.
Tonight is the opening ceremony which will be held at Churchill Downs. Unfortunately, the NCAA only provides for 9 team members. Since we are travelling with 11 Coach Neil and I will not attend. Perhaps we will take the opportunity to find the local Morton's for a meal on the college. Sorry about that Ivan...
Ok folks, gotta go. The rental van I was given has faulty brakes and the tow truck is coming to take it back to the airport. The fine people at Enterprise will be leaving me with an alternate minivan. Hope it is a good one.
It is great to be in the great state of Kentucky, home of your 2012 National Basketball Champion Wildcats. I hope I do not get accosted as I wear my UK apparel proudly.
A hearty congratulations to our two graduates Dane Ostilly and Geza Bazula. We are proud of you and wish you well in the future. Of course, there is still some work left to be done on the tennis court but for now, celebrate your accomplishment.
It's that time of the year again. It's time to get excited for another NCAA Championship quest. We have qualified for the "Sweet 16" in Louisville, Kentucky (a town that I normally think poorly of due to my Wildcat allegiance).
We will square off against Grand Canyon University in the round of 16 and expect a great match. Clearly, our quarter looks like the most competitive of the four. Click here for the bracket.
I look forward to blogging the event from today up until we hit our last ball. Check back for updates daily.
I got involved with Concordia Tennis as a way to honor my parents who were both professors and coaches at the college back in the 1960's and also to give back to the program that provided so much for me.
I started with a dream of taking a team to the National "Sweet 16". However, once we got there and I saw what it took to win a National Championship, it looked possible and that became my goal. I thought for a long time that I must have one. However, over time, I realized that it is more important to focus on building champions rather than winning championships and that relationships are far more important than achievements. Thus, a stronger purpose became clear. I am here to love, serve, care for and lead my teams...
"I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters, and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others he has placed in my path." - Ben Stein
"You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy." - Arthur Ashe
“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.” - Knute Rockne
“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven't done anything today.” - Lou Holtz
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." - Vince Lombardi
"The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break." - John Madden
"Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
"Success is a journey, not a destination." - Arthur Ashe
"Champions keep playing until they get it right." - Billie Jean King
"Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play." - Mike Singletary
"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden
"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top." - O.J. Simpson
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." - John Wooden
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
"If you want to be good, focus on making yourself better. If you want to be great, focus on making yourself and your team better." - Jon Gordon