December 22, 2004
Written by: The Hockey Coaches: Janet Riley, Nancy Troiano, & Joe Bellini
TEAM USA Trains in Colorado
Well we’re home from our trip to Colorado and as we look back on the trip it’s filled with many fond memories. It was an amazing experience for everyone from beginning to end. We were greeted with many smiles when we arrived. The Colorado scenery was breathtaking. Copper Mountain resort was just beautiful.
Training camp officially began with opening ceremonies. From there we went onto dinner where they had a great presentation on what awaits us in Japan. We learned how to use chop sticks, the athletes decorated Japanese fans, they dressed in a sumo wrestler costume to see what it felt like to be a heavy weight and we sampled some Japanese food like sesame chicken, rice and spring rolls.
Bright and early the next morning we made our way to Breckenridge where we began our floor hockey training. (Thanks to Special Olympics Colorado for providing sticks, pucks and goalie equipment.) After suiting up, we spent the morning practicing our skills and trying to get used to the altitude. After lunch we scrimmaged against the team from Southern California. It was intense and well played. The teams were evenly matched. Two hours later both teams left Breckenridge exhausted but extremely enthusiastic. That night we enjoyed a taste of Japan and a DJ.
The next day brought more practice and great play. Dinner consisted of tacos and Orphan Boy provided the music. Saturday brought an early practice and then the fun began. At lunch we recognized all our wonderful sponsors and then we were treated to a fashion show. One of our athletes, Max, got to be a model. We saw all the great outfits we would receive courtesy of Columbia Outfitters. After lunch we had some free time to explore Copper Mountain and all the little shops and sights. There were plenty of photo-ops for everyone. Just before dinner, we donned our TEAM USA sweatshirts and headed outside for our official TEAM PHOTO! It was chilly but we made the best of it. For dinner we had pizza and salad and all the head coaches were recognized. After dinner we went to our uniform fitting session. We tried on pants, shirts, gloves, jackets, and fleece vests. We will also get a new pair of boots. The evening ended with a slide show to re-cap camp and all the memories.
We packed on Saturday night and traveled all day on Sunday back to Denver. Our trip ended when we landed at LaGuardia airport and drove home.
All in all, it was a great experience. As a team we bonded and learned how it would be in Japan. We still have some hockey to learn but we feel a lot better now that we have the camp under our belt. The athletes are excited for the World Games which are coming up February 26th through March 5th. We have plenty of practices until then and we hope to fine tune our skills. We’ll like to thank our friends in Colorado who were great hosts and Columbia Outfitters for our outfits.
Janet, Nancy, and Joe will be acting as correspondents while at the World Games in late February and early March, so be sure to watch for their first hand accounts of the games in future issues.