Well now that this is all over and we are heading back to the US soon so I guess I better round my web page up. When I first came here I didn't know what to expect, but the guys on the team made the transition easy. I would like to give some special shout outs to Enes, Rio, and Mikko for taking care of Marlon and me many times when it was out of the way for them.
During my time over here I have definitely seen some things that I would not have had the chance to see at home. Does that mean I'm cultured? No matter what was going on we were always cracking jokes and having a good time.
It's weird how things get sometimes when you are isolated from all the people you've known your whole life, all the food you are use to eating, the music you are use to hearing, the language you are use to hearing others communicate in, and even the small things down to the signs that you are use to seeing. It's just you and...you. I believe things happen for a reason though and I think that God allowed me to come here for several reasons. Who knows what would have happened if I had ended up in the town of Pori. Many times I had a lot of time to myself and I even read the same book twice, when I wasn't surfing the net. That was " The Purpose Driven Life " by Rick Warren and if you haven't read it then you should. It will make you look at things very differently. When you are isolated like that you find out whats important to you and find out which friends will keep in touch. Marlon and I have also always had our needs met and have never lacked anything. We may not have liked how the food tasted, but it was food. I have my faith in Jesus above and he protected us and kept us safe and content while we were here and so I'm thankful. I would have never thought that I would come here and win the national championship and set the national td pass record and not ever throw an interception and have the type statistics that I ended up with. If you would have told me that before I came I would have told you that you were crazy. However, I can't take all the credit because I had the best core group of receivers in the league and the line was getting it together by the end of the season. Is this where I give a shout out to my Offensive cooridnators P. Haatsa and Ninikowsky? hahaha, no seriously Haatsa and Ninikowsky helped me out a lot and made it easier to understand what was going on, not to mention the millions of heart to hearts that haatsa gave me. So I think the trip here was a divine appointment and I'm glad that I caught the plane or I would have missed out on several things as you can see.
So during 3 months USA has captured the national title in Spades ( a card game), Dart throwing, Sauna sitting, & Football, while Finland only won one title which was in beer drinking.
I'm going back now and will try to get on a team somewhere. Hopefully something will work out, but if not life will go on. If for some reason there are some tailbans on the plane just know that I will die before the plane goes down cause Marlon and I will try to re-takeover the plane. If any of you would like to get in touch with me then you can email me at luqb[at]hotmail.com. Also with the financial aid of Mikko Virolainen I'm thinking of starting the first He'sburger in the US. He promised me that if we won the championship that he would do it, so now he has to be a man of his word. If you want to get in on it then send me an email and some Euros.
Thanks to all of you at home that emailed, called, sent packages and did anything to encourage me over here and thanks to all of the people over here that looked out for us during our time here. Keep in touch and go Trojans. It was a great summer to be a Trojan and I never got to ride the " Queen of Pori ".
The first part of this week was dedicated to trying to regain feeling in my shoulder and collar bone. Then on Wednesday our tour guide actually did take us to the Vasa Museum. I liked this museum more so than the military museum of Sweden and I wish I would have taken the camera because I could have taken some good pictures. The Vasa Museum is a museum dedicated to the pride of the Swedish fleet. The ship was pretty big and they had it displayed well as the building was constructed so you could see every level of the ship. They had videos and tours frequently that you could watch in English so I was able to understand some stuff about it and obviously everything I didn't understand Mario explained it for me...lol. The museum was like in low light because they said it helps preserve the ship and there were also a lot of Chinese people in the museum speaking that stuff they speak. The tour guide said that it took 2 1/2 years to build the ship and then it sank in the first 20 minutes out at sea. He said that there were several reasons for it sinking such as; it was too tall and narrow, not enough weight in the bottom (ballast) and there was more ship out of the water than underwater. The carpentry on the boat was really good. They had all of these intricate carvings all over the boat. He also said that the king was wanting it to be the best ship and all so he kept adding things and making changes while they were building it so that threw them off a little bit. I think the ship had everything perfect except to the point about making sure it would float. I thought it was neat to see how they got the ship out of the water to get it into the museum. They had divers go down there and dig holes under the ship and run ropes under it then they positioned all these ships and barges and flotation devices around it and moved it underwater to a more shallow area and then they hoisted it out of the water very slowly. It seemed to be a very in depth process and was also a dirty job from seeing the video. Putting all the pieces back together on the ship took a while and so they said that the " Vasa " is known as the largest jigsaw puzzle in the world. This ship was suppose to take part in the war against Poland. If you want to know more about our tour and all that then you can email Mario at mariodonato[@]hotmail.com and he will give you a wealth of knowledge. Once again Mario did not let a sign go unread. It must have cost a lot to bring the ship out and have it on display as they charge you 4 dollars an hour just for parking. On a side note I did play a game in Finland in a town called Vaasa if that means anything. haha. On Wednesday night Håkan and his lady had us over to eat again and I got the honor of cooking the desert, which I might add was a once a year delicacy. I told him that he's lucky we are leaving or we could make this a once a week tradition. lol. We had lasagna and salad and again left on a full stomach so that was a relaxing evening. Then on Thursday I couldn't resist it any longer and the opportunity presented itself so we had the shot and we took it even though we proceeded below the hard deck level. On Thursday afternoon we set out on the Silja line to Finland with our offensive coordinator Coach Wikstrom. The Trojans played the Roosters in the championship game again so it was only right that we spend a few days in Turku and be present for this spectacle. This is a picture of the boat what we traveled on. Here are some specs from the boat in case you are a detail freak: Passengers 2,852, Cabins 985, stories 12, Conference rooms 25, Bars 7, Restaurants 6, Shops 6, Sauna and Relax, Solarium, Etc etc...Length 203 m, Width 31.5 m, Power 44,000 hp An interior design of the boat is below ...
So as you can tell we were roughing it on the way to Finland. This was my first time on any type of cruise ship. Most of the time it's me and Coach Mangum in the John boat, but this was a little different. We left Stockholm around 3 pm on Thursday and landed in Helstinky at 10 am the next morning. Note there was a time change. The atmosphere on the ship was pretty neat. When we first got onto the ship we went to our rooms, dropped the luggage off, and then proceeded downstairs to the promenade to make arrangements to eat. After we had reserved a time to eat then we went out on the back of the ship to the stern ( if you look on the layout we were looking from the deck at Joe's Bar ) for the takeoff and it was neat to feel the big engines start cranking. After that we went and ate this huge buffet that they have on board the boat. We ate regular food and some oddities that we ate were like octopus rings, herring every way you could possibly cook it, salmon, and reindeer stew. After we ate we walked around the boat and looked around it some and then talked on the deck until the sun went down. Coach was taking pictures during the whole evening so it was pretty cool because we have a lot of pics on the site today. After the sun went down we went and watched some karaoke up on the stardust lounge and you could definitely tell when a Finnish song was playing versus a Swedish song. Then after this at 12 we went and saw the nightly show that they have on board. After the show we went up and went to sleep and when we woke up we were at the port in Helsinki. Below I have posted pictures from the trip over and pictures from inside the ship so you can get a feel for what it looked like.
One hand for Sweden , One hand for Finland
This Russian lady sang some karaoke
A dance on the cruise ship
Now let me back up and tell you that when I found out that there was a possibility to go to Finland I sent out a blanket email to like 8 people in Turku. Within 10 minutes we already had a hotel room reserved for us in downtown Turku and by the next day we had like 6 offers to put Mario and me up for 2 days. So a big thanks to Mr. Patrick ( HomeAmerican ) Morton for taking extremely good care of us while we were there. I think that just goes to show how nice the guys in Turku are and now you can understand why I'm always pumping up Turku at home. So you may be asking yourself..." wasn't Clint banned from Finland "...well that is a good question that I was worried about as well. However there was no passport control on the ships in between Sweden and Finland so we were able to ride right on. I say ride right on because that's what we did. Our offensive coordinator is from Finland and so when he goes on the ship he takes his car and then drives it right out when he arrives in Finland. It was kind of weird to ride a car onto a huge cruise ship, but that's how we got on. They have these huge doors that open up and you can drive right in. I got a pic of the car docks as well. I think they also ship goods back and fourth as there were also tour busses and transport trucks parked in the bay.
We parked underneath the ship
And for all of you who are wondering....no I did not tell Frank or Frances Patterson of our adventure. It was better that they not worry. We got into Hestinky and Coach Wikstrom drove us around for a little bit and we even revisited the Veladrome, where we took the crown last year. We were the only people there so it was weird and talk about De-ja-vu. The whole weekend was this way as I was going and visiting places that I thought I would never ever see again in my life. Many of the places had stayed the same, but some things had changed. So after this we went and had lunch with the president of the Finnish American Football Federation, as he and Coach are friends. This guy's name is on the official league ball that they play with in Finland. So that was neat. None other than Mika Sevon was contacted and it just happened that he was in town doing business so we waited on him to get through then caught a ride back to Turku with the oldest living active player in Finnish football history. For me this was another de-ja-vu thing because last year when I first arrived in Finland it was Sevon who picked me up from the airport and on the way to Turku we stopped at his house and met his wife and she walked out on the porch and said hello and she had a baby in her arms. Well sure enough we pulled up and she walked out on the porch and said hello and had another baby in her arms. It was beginning to seem like a flashback at this point. The only difference was that instead of saying " Its good to meet you " ...she said " Its good to meet you again ". So Mario got to know the one and only Mika Sevon on his first day in Finland and now Mario is the 2nd member of the Mika Sevon international fan club ( as I am acting president and founder ). So Sevoni dropped us off at the hotel in downtown Turku. We checked into the hotel and then I began to show the city to Mario. I knew once it turned night that I would be able to find some of my friends from last year working at the doors of the clubs. I had planned on sending them text messages when I got there, but go figure that an Ericcson ( Swedish ) pre-paid phone wouldn't let me do that on a Finnish network. So I couldn't get in touch with my friends through my phone. We went and ate a pizza buffet at Rax which is a historical spot for Marlon and I because it was the only buffet in Turku. After we ate we went back to the hotel for a bit and watched the massacre that was going on in Russia. Those guys are really crazy over there. Then it was night time and we did indeed walk the streets and I bumped into like 5 people that I knew that were still working at the same places. None of the players were out that evening due to it being the night before the championship. We got up with my boy Enes at a club called Kåren. It was good to see Enes again as he was one of the guys who really took care of me and Marlon last year. He was working at some international university's welcome back party and of course we were up in there. Man they had all kind of nationalities in there and you could see which countries/people groups had rhythm and which ones didn't. After he got off from there we went to another place. I think they had dedicated a club to Marlon as the name of this club was called " The Giggling Marlin " ...lol. After this we were heading back to the hotel and I had to eat just one more He'sburger before I died. I also got Mario to eat one too. Below are pictures from that day in Turku and some will be pointless to many of you, but for Marlon it will be neat to see so just bare with us.
Me in front of Prima
The Street next to the Prima
Mario at the team bar
Mario by the main river in Turku
The square in downtown Turku
Now on Saturday morning we woke up and ate the breakfast buffet and then headed to meet the bus to the game. We rode with Patrick and his family, the president of the team, and the cheerleaders to the game. It was a neat ride and we even stopped at the restaurant that we always stopped at when we were going to play the Roosters so once again de-ja-vu. I talked with some of the cheerleaders that I remembered from last year so that was kind of neat. Every one was asking me about Sweden and this season and my experiences over here. I felt like I said the same things like a million times, but it was all in good intentions. So it was Saturday and we were on the way to the game. When we arrived they were in warm ups and upon entering the stadium I began to see fans, friends, players wives, and player's girlfriends that I remembered from last year so it was good to see them all again. I even signed 4 footballs and 1 t-shirt for some fans and every time that happens I can hardly take myself serious. I'm just cheesing from ear to ear trying to act like calm, cool and collective or whatever. They were even giving out these papers at the game with my picture on them. Watching the game was once again odd for me as I felt like I had just graduated and was back at Central High watching my former classmates play again. The game was a pretty good game, but you could tell that a lot of the guys that had retired were on defense and mainly the defensive line. The team had also lost a lot of people to injuries this season as well. The score was 28 - 21 going into the half and I think the final score was like 49 - 28. After the game I got to talk with Brett (the Qb the Trojans had this year) again for a minute. So we had seen each other in Stockholm and now in Helsinki. I felt that he played really well and did as good as one could possibly do given the cards he was dealt so that is what I told him. The injured players on offense and defense had a pretty big effect on the team I think. I know that they had a starting TE, WR, and LB that didn't play. So the Turku Trojans did not repeat despite a valiant effort, but nonetheless Mika Sevon was 4 - 4 on extra points and thus the legacy continues. After the game I got pictures with some of the guys and talked with them again. I surprised myself by remembering all of their names without even hesitating. Also I don't know if it was something in the water, but many of the players wives were pregnant. Maybe it was post championship happiness that led to it from last year, but either way we sat in the pregnant wives section during the game...lol. Below are some pictures from before and after the game.
Me and the Findland fellas (Enes, Suopa, & Sami)
Me and the Findland fellas II (Mika Sevon, Juka Satola, Mikka Riionhemo, & Kim Gronlund)
At the championship game they gave out newspapers and I was on the cover... it was like dejavu
Once we got back into Turku we went over to Patrick ( HomeAmerican ) Morton's house and ate pizza for a bit while we waited on the team to get back into town. All of the players said that they were going to the Olkku which is like the team gathering place in Turku. We then met the team at the Olkku and it was good to see the guys again all at the same time. I even took a few snaps with Kimi (my center from last year). After some time there we left and went to the Giggling Marlin again. From talking with a lot of the people at the game and on the team I believe that there are more people in Finland that read my web page over here than people in Sweden. After the Gigglin Marlin we went caught a " black " taxi and stayed the night at my ex-o-coordinator's house. Mario got to meet a lot of the guys during this time and he and Harry P. Haatsa Malkimaki bonded over 70's & 80's music. Here are some pictures from that.
Proof that we were indeed in Finland... this guy was struggling
We got like 3 hours of sleep and then chef Malkimaki made us a gourmet, sit down, table properly set meal. Mario and I even caught a quick Finnish Sauna ( Mario's first genuine Finnish sauna experience ) and then got a taxi into town so that we could catch the bus back to Helsinki again. We made the bus by 5 minutes and were on our way back to meet Coach Wikstrom so we could get on the boat in time. We got off the bus at the wrong stop of course so we decided to take some pictures in front of the parliament building while Coach had to come rescue us. Of course Mario made me take some random pictures of statues for historical purposes I guess. Here are those pictures.
Me at the Parliament building in Helsinki
Mario at the Parliament
So we got up with Coach and then were on our way to reboard the ship. We stopped and took a few pictures around a port in Helsinki and coach also took some pictures from the the boat on the way back. Coach Wikstrom's below pictures are also available in a high resolution format at this link. You can even have them printed and buy them from that site as well (in case you cared). As we were leaving Helsinki we could see the Islands called the archipelago on the way out. Some of these still had military remains on them and one of them even has the only submarine that belongs to Finland in the picture (Rumor has it that it doesn't work). Check them out.
So we had arranged for the same buffet and we ate it up again and then after that we were all exhausted. Mario and I were running on empty and Coach Wikstrom said that he didn't get too much sleep in Helsinki either... something about a championship or something, but anyways we went back to our room and we all just knocked out. We slept for about 4 hours then woke up and went out on the deck again for some fresh air after which we returned back to the room and went to sleep again. We woke up in Stockholm the following morning and now we are back in Tyreso. This weekend was definitely a memorable one for me as well as Mario and the whole thing seemed surreal the way it all worked out. I think we stayed just long enough for Mario to not be able to make me go to another museum so that was good. Over the weekend I recognized that I can now pick out the different languages of Swedish and Finnish. Usually in the past I couldn't tell what they were speaking, but I just knew that it was foreign to me, but now I can definitely tell what language is being spoken when I hear it. I also got my brain scrambled with languages a few times too. I can only say and know a few words, phrases, and the numbers, but just going back to Finland threw me for a loop in the beginning. I was hearing Finnish and responding in Swedish subconsciously and vice versa. For a brief moment ( in McDonalds ) I couldn't draw the line on what words were from what country, but I got it straight after a little while. I was speaking a salad of languages and only got laughed at. I can still speak more Finnish than Swedish and this is probably due to 2 reasons; time spent in Finland was longer and more people in Sweden speak English. This weekend would not have been anywhere near possible if it wasn't for the generosity and kindness of many individuals. So its only correct that Mario and I say a huge thanks to Coack Wikstrom, Patrick Morton, Haatsa, Sevon, and all the guys in Turku and Helsinki that took extremely good care of us and made it all possible. It was definitely a trip to remember. We were there for 3 days and we went back and fourth from Turku to Helsinki once each day so it was all a whirlwind. As I have previously mentioned I was nominated for the " Import of the Year " award in our league in Sweden. Well needless to say I missed the banquet. I mean I normally wouldn't miss a function like that, but for a chance to do what all we did I would do it again without thinking twice. Turns out that it wasn't that bad anyways because I didn't win the award. I came in 2nd in votes and some people have informed me that going home in the middle of the season didn't help in winning so I can't complain. So thanks again to everyone. Off into the sunset.....Somebody say Denmark ?
While I was in Finland there were two sites that kept track of the stats. However, since then one has gone away. See more stats from the League's site.
It's always weird to write the conclusion to my journeys because I am happy to return home yet sad to leave my newfound friends and experiences and sometimes its almost like I have a double life going on here. I would like to say thank you to all the guys on the team and specially the guys in Tyreso who took care of me (and Mario) and made the experience worth while. Just as in Finland, I have many memories from Sweden that I don't think I'll soon be forgetting. I now have a better understanding of the undying love relationship between Finland and Sweden and I have seen it and heard about it from both sides of the fence. This year, just as last year, I have been blessed with the opportunity to meet many new people and to experience a different part of the world for a few months and for that I am grateful. One thing that is neat about going and playing football in a different country is that you are not there as a tourist the whole time, nor as a football player 100% of the time. You get to do a lot of both so I get to see things that someone on a tourist vacation doesn't (along with getting hit a few times every now and then). I get into the daily grind and see the lifestyles and culture of wherever I happen to be. This is very interesting to me. I get to see what makes the people tick. For a short period I get to be part of their life. This is a special opportunity that not many people get so though I act the fool a lot of the time I am constantly picking up on things about other cultures and layouts of McDonald's all across the world. Another thing that is also neat to be able to experience is the fact that no matter where I come from or what I stand for and believe in ... that for a brief moment the cultural views, indifferences, and disagreements can all be let down and a group of people can put it all aside, come together, and try to achieve a goal. For me football is the means to do this. I think this tells a lot about the sport and a lot about the people who play the sport. So far, no matter where I've been or on what level I've played on this has been possible. Even complete strangers from other sides of the world can meet and form a team and make bonds that run deeper than a normal friendship and this is done in order to play the game. It's about going through things together; a practice, a game, a season, a summer, ... a museum... that creates those bonds that are unbreakable. Many people who don't play the game often don't understand this. The bonds that you make during this time are the bonds that in 2 years will have someone calling me saying " hey guess who'll be in visiting from Stockholm or from Finland at your house next month ". Many times people went out of there way to make sure we had what we needed and that we were always taken care of when they really didn't have to. Sometimes I have even thought to myself " I don't even know if I would have done that for some foreigner if he was in America " and these kind of things make me appreciative of the heart and kindness that many of the guys in Finland and Sweden have shown to me. Thus, though we did not win the championship this season does not mean that the season was not a success both on the field and off the field. It just depends on how you define success. And I would never have thought that a little brown ball would have led to me writing all of this. Now the question is will I be writing any more of these....that's why the story is ... " To be continued ..." PS: Hasse & Mario...sorry I didn't get to say goodbye before we left, but I was running around like crazy the last few days, but don't let that make you think I love you any less. And somebody tell Oliver that his Rum Coke Roll Up hat is in the clubhouse in my room before Rauge steals it. Tack su micke Stockholm, Cp & Mario
This week was pretty eventful. I'm beginning to start my " about to go home shopping " and so Marlon and I are in the malls and seeing what all we can buy. We did lift weights 3 times this week again. On Wednesday Marlon won the sauna competition and if you want to read the details then Click Here . It was pretty funny to hear those guys talking junk to each other and I was even sweating just standing outside of the sauna. Marlon said that it felt like someone was ripping his skin off of his back, but nevertheless he endured.
On Friday, I went ice skating for the first time in my life. I'll just say that I wasn't too graceful. I think I stayed on the ice for about 5 minutes. I had like 2 falls in 3 minutes so I wasn't too productive. The ice is hard and cold when you fall too (what a profound statment). Marlon wasn't so graceful either as he did some movements that looked like tip toe drills on the ice. Eventually he just fell and rolled back to the side. They were calling us Bambi and Grizzly on ice. I've posted some pictures from the experience and as you can see my ice skating career wasn't much too brag about. I've got it on film too so if you want you can check it out when I get home and Todd if you are reading this, don't tell or show Dixon my pictures cause he'll be talking smack to me. hahahha.
This weekend we played the Crocodiles for the 3rd time this year. This game was a TV game and marked the second round of the playoffs. This team had picked up a new American Qb and had their American linebacker back since the last game that we played. It was forecasted to rain before the game and it did a lot and the field was in bad shape, not to mention the condition of the balls. I was interviewed by the TV guys before the game so that was pretty neat. He even asked me what was the deal about some web page so I gave him the address. The game got off to a good start as the defense got a safety on the first drive, but then the offense went 3 and out on our series. The very next series one of our db's picked off a pass for a td. The defense played really well this game. This was the first game that the offense was leaning on the defense and they were picking up our slack. On offense we couldn't get anything started all the first half. In the second half though we finally got moving. I ended up with 3 td passes, which all came in the second half and I believe it was for 243 yards. We won like 35 - 0. This game was a very sloppy game as my uniform got very muddy from the field being so wet. I smelled like a backwoods South Carolina swamp when you're duck hunting if you know what I mean. You will see from the pictures. Oh yeah and they said that on TV the broadcasters commented on Marlon's victory in the Sauna Bowl. hahaha. Later on that night when we went to eat they were replaying our game on TV over here. It was pretty neat to be watching yourself on TV.
This week they were having something interesting over here that we normally wouldn't have back at home. They had a a thing called Turku Sex . I guess it was like a sex exhibition or something. I don't know was happening over there, but I did see all of the advertising for it around town. I'll just say that the advertisements wouldn't be allowed at home either. I heard rumors that if you went naked that you got in free, but I'm not sure about that either cause we didn't go, but I was tempted. Finland is also hosting the championships for soccer under the age 17 and I believe that Finland got beat already, but the USA team is still playing. I guess we are getting good at soccer now I dont know. I heard Finland got beat 9 - 1 by Colombia. How ironic.
So now my time is winding down here and before we know it Marlon and I will be getting on a big bird headed back to the hot, sticky south. It's been a long ride, but hopefully we will have a happy ending.
I happen to surf over to the Central High Football website ( www.centralhighfootball.com ) and was looking at the roster pictures. Can somebody tell me what Trent and Garrett are thinking with their hair? Are they in some kind of contest to see who's got the nappiest hair or something? I hope those boys beat Timmonsville so somebody keep me posted with the details of the game. I can find the score online, but not whether somebody got stuck or not.
So it looks like we will have to go back to Helsinki to play for the championship. I hope we can do it..and it should be a good game.
This was a cop on a horse
This guy was drunk and was literally crawling up the sidewalk
Went to a castle
Went to a cathedral