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
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 ".
Our crew had a blast last year at DNNWorld 2011 so we eagerly looked forward to this year’s conference all year long. This year DNNWord was moved up a month from November to October which was a welcomed change by me as November is the best part of deer hunting season in South Carolina. As soon as the early-bird registration came out I registered.
To me, DNNWorld is like a combination of a family reunion, a pep rally, and information-loaded-boot-camp. It’s really hard to describe and put into words, you just have to experience it. There are great people to meet, prizes to win, awesome sessions to inspire you and get your creativity flowing, a side-conversation constantly going on via social media, competitions to enter, arrows to shoot at people, good times to be had, and trees to be climbed. It’s fun and I always leave energized about the future. There was no way we’d miss it.
This week was a pretty good one. On Monday we ran and lifted as usual. Since I had the camera I took some pictures of the buses & subways that we ride and just random pictures to give you a feel for what we are seeing on a daily basis.
We were riding a boat to get to the Vasa Museum and it was pretty neat because our bus passes also work on the boats as well. So I was able to get some good pics off the boat. You will see pictures from a Theme park called Gröna Lund. Now they have a drop zone which I also got pictures of, that makes the drop zone at Carowinds look like child's play.
So you see we were on our way to tour the Vasa museum. This is a museum of a sunken ship that was recently recovered off the coast of Sweden. We " almost " toured it as our ultimate guide was confused about the time that the museum was open (we are still planning on going back). However this is what the museum looks like from the outside and here's a picture of Mario and our unnamed ultimate tour guides (Oliver & Chief) pointing towards the sign. * Names have been altered for personal protection due to disgrace of being Swedish and not being able to read Swedish times
Since we were downtown and the museum was closed we figured we'd walk into town and mess around for a little bit. While we were walking I got more pics of the scenery.
So that was Monday and was the day that I went crazy with the camera, thus all the pictures. Monday night when I got back I noticed that some Spanish guy had added me to his buddy list on MSN. I began speaking Spanish, but no one responded as it was kind of late when I authorized access on the buddy list. That was kind of strange then on Tuesday morning before we went to run I received an email from the guy. It was a team in Barcelona Spain wanting me to come play with them this coming year. The guy thought I was still in the states when he was emailing me so he couldn't figure out what I was doing up at 4am checking email. Anyways we got on the messenger later that evening and I talked to him for about an hour and a half and he was filling me in on the details. Their season is earlier than Finland and Sweden's and so he said he would want me there in January. At the end of the conversation he said " from what I can see your Spanish is very good " so it was good to be able to converse with him in Spanish and hopefully that will give him extra incentive for wanting me to come. However I didn't sign or anything like that because I still don't know what exactly I will be doing, but its neat to know that I can visit another country if I would like to. Then again I think when am I going to get a real job. Who knows what will happen. Other than that nothing much happened exciting on Tuesday besides lifting and practice. On Wednesday we lifted again and then bummed around as it was raining a bit and then later that evening Mario Santos had us over to his place to eat. It was good to visit with them and eat at their place again. This is the same guy that had me and my cousin David over to eat. So we just hung out over there and he's all into cars so he and Mario were speaking some kind of language I'm not familiar with. Thursday was haircut day and just running and practice. Not too much else worthy of writing about for Thursday. Now on Friday I will to say that we were rolling in high cotton as I have told some of you. Working the connections we were able to be on the list to the annual Crayfish party at the US Embassy here in Stockholm. They said that this is a 30 year tradition. Mario, Coach K, Coach A, Larry, and I went up in there to represent Tyreso, Cali, Finland, Jersey and of course South Carolina. Let me start with the entrance. I was planning on taking my camera, but Larry had said that no cameras were allowed inside the embassy. The embassy is in downtown Stockholm and is fenced in with tall white bars and it had a guard building. The fences around it reminded me of the houses in Colombia and Venezuela and the guard shack reminded me of Liberty..lol. Anyways we had to take our passports just to get through the guard shack. They would only let 2 people in at a time and the setup was similar to airport security. Slide all metal items on the belt and walk through the door. If you didn't work there you had to have a sticker that said " function " on your shirt. Our group might has well have been malfunction, dysfunction, no function, and functionless but as you can imagine we gave the woman at the door grief over the stickers. It ended up being true that no cameras were allowed in as Coach K had a phone with a camera on it and they held it there until the party was over. So we walked in and yes it felt good to be on American soil, yet in another country. Kind of weird huh. We entered the building ( it is a pretty big building by the way ) and followed the signs and yes Mario spotted the South Carolina flag flying in there so that was cool. Obviously we stopped and had a moment of silence for it. This is when we started seeing all these people. I would say that there was about 130 people there. I think some of them worked at the Embassy, some diplomats, some marines and then just other friends of people who worked there. We all hung out in the inner square of the embassy then we went into this room and they had the table set and ready. The party was catered and they made us wear these crazy birthday style hats. The tables were filled with drinks and food and then a guy got on the mike and started making a welcome speech. That's when the crayfish started coming in and I had to get some instructions on how to eat them from a few different people, but I figured it out there shortly. We had a really good time in there and we got to meet to meet a lot of people. After the meal the Dj started playing music and wouldn't you know it I ran into some girl from Chile and we dance salsa. The whole evening was surreal because we were 4 Americans and one Finn sitting in the US Embassy eating crayfish with people we didn't even know. Nevertheless we represented and had a good time. After the party we headed downtown. Larry put on a Holyfield demonstration for us as we were exiting the Embassy and that was funny. We went into the city and all hung out for a bit then headed home. The only evidence that I have for you that we actually went ( cause I know some of you thinking I'm lying ) was to bring home the piece of paper that was on our table. So take a look at this. I guess its safe to say that they have a good time at the party.
Game Weekend Since we were playing on Sunday this week we all headed down on Saturday and stayed in a Scandic hotel. It's a pretty long ride to Carlstad and I made a cd so we listened to it on the way and saw a lot of the Swedish country side. It was a pretty day and it is still getting cooler over here and feels like it does when it turns fall. We got to the hotel and rested for a bit then ate dinner and then went into the city for a bit. It was neat to see another city in Sweden and we didn't stay out too late. We did see some of their players out in the town as well. One of the guys on our team had bought a Street & Smith's College Football magazine and so Mario and I were reading that while at the hotel. It was weird to be in Sweden and to read about GWU and Liberty and see our friends/roommates/classmates names in the magazine. I guess the world is small. Before dinner we did attempt to sit in the sauna at the hotel, but it indeed turned out to be a Swedish sauna and there was no Loylu or steam to be seen or felt. Game Now this was us returning down to a team that had killed us 2 weeks prior and they were anticipating a walk through I believe. Before the game they had a mascot...( a crusader ) come on to the field and drive his sword into the middle of the field. The crowd got hyped on this. He was wearing real chain mail and steel so it was more lifelike than a costume. It was a really windy day and we got the ball first and were going into the wind.We drove it right down the field on them and scored on the first possession on a long sustained drive. This put them on their heels and gave us some momentum. The defense was holding them and the game was going well. We were able to move the ball on them and they even had to switch their defenses on us. They were in a 3-3 stack and had to go back to their 4-2 because we were ripping them on it. I had a bomb td pass dropped on their sideline and soon after there was another one dropped in the zone. I can't talk too much though because one time I had a guy open in the end zone and made a bad throw and missed him on it, but we did score though. I had to do about 5 Qb sneaks in the game and one time guy ripped my helmet off and the chinstrap going up my face left some scratches on my face and my eye started to swell a little. One of our defensive guys got an interception and took it to the house only to have it called back for offsides or something. Seemed like some home cooking to me, but that was about where the momentum stopped as this took the air out of us a little. We went in at halftime like 21-7 I believe. The second half was similar to the first, but without us having too much momentum. We were hanging with them and I hit our TE on a touchdown pass on a corner route. One time in the 3rd quarter I really got popped as I tried to scramble up the middle and someone got my feet then one of those defensive guys had me for lunch. My helmet again went up my face. I mean don't get it twisted now I didn't come out of the game or anything like that, but I can feel the soreness now and this is most sore my collar bone and jaw bone has ever been. The game ended up 39 - 12 and we lost and the season was over. So no championship this year, but its ok. I guess you can't win them all the time. I was proud of our guys this day and glad that they came to play and put up a fight. The easiest thing to do would have been to lay over and let them walk over us, but that wasn't the case. I think we surprised a lot of people in the stadium as well. You know how it is when you know you've given it your all and you can at least walk out with your head high...well that was how this was. After the game we had the team huddle and I thanked the guys for allowing me to come and play and thanked them for going out of their way to make me & Mario too feel welcome and taking care of us. I have some pictures from the game and post game here. After the game we all headed home and ended up all eating at the same McDonald's about an hour into the trip. It was reminiscent of after our High School football game when everyone would go to Bojangles. We headed home in the night and I believe the moon looks bigger from Sweden than it does in the states...lol. We saw a lot of farmers combining what looked like their wheat late into the night. Mario said that it reminded him of a scene from Indiana.
So now I will be staying here for Mr. Paul Tucker's wedding and that leaves me with a banquet to go to and 2 weeks to explore the cultural riches of Sweden. In other news the Turku Trojans will be playing this coming weekend in the championship. Did somebody say road trip? Mario and I are debating on going to Denmark and/or Norway, but being broke does come into play so who knows what will end up happening. I will post again next week to let you know if we do anything worth writing about and will end the web page with a Conclusion entry. Regards,