Julie Seabrook Blog #2 – Milano

This Saturday my teammate Kata and I took the train down to Milan for the day.

It is a busy city with intricate Baroque styled buildings, beautiful people, and lots of fashion. When we got off the train from Switzerland we went to get the tickets for the Metro.  This is where I had my first experience with gypsies, and after I taught Kata the English phrase “Pay attention!” she used it every chance she got to warn me of purse snatchers.

The Metro let us off right in the main Piazza del Duomo. This is where Milan’s famous cathedral is.

I tried to go in, but I was informed I needed pants. So we went to the mall for some shopping!!

We strolled through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and took a spin on the blue bull’s genitals. (It’s supposed to bring you good luck!)

Finally I found some pants I liked and got to go into the Duomo, which was very ornate and beautiful.  I loved the huge stain glass windows, but the roof was my favourite part.

After the Duomo we headed to the park, Parco Sempione.  On the way there we saw the Arco della Pace, which marks the place where the gate to the city of Milan is located.

After we hung out in the park, we went back to the Piazza, ate, and did more shopping.  We were getting really into shopping when we realized it was time to catch our train and we had to sprint back to the Metro through the crowded streets.  Don’t worry we made it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyways, I look forward to tomorrow’s practice because we are scrimmaging against our strength and conditioning coach’s basketball team.  Should be fun!!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Also, as promised here is a picture of my apartment provided by one of our awesome sponsors Pelloni!

 

Ciao from Switzerland,

Julie

 

 

 

Julie Seabrook Blog #1 – Arriving in Switzerland

It has been two weeks since I arrived in Switzerland and a lot has happened. Learning how to drive standard while few people speak English and having no Internet in my apartment for almost two weeks was challenging. In fact I did suffer from some culture shock.

Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to immigration or a visit to a new country or a move between social environments, also a simple travel to another type of life.

However, my teammates, coach, and substitute family (the Lacalamita’s) have been extremely helpful and nice so it made things a lot easier.

I have been playing basketball but I also got to do some sightseeing.

The Wednesday after I arrived (August 29th) the Lacalamita’s took me up into the mountains for some good old Swiss hiking. It was so beautiful. I felt like Heidi.

The next two days we had running and practice, but my head coach Scott was away at a coaching clinic so official practice did not start until Monday September 2nd.

The following Wednesday, September 5th, I went to the castle in Bellinzona. There are 3 castles there but I just went to Castelgrande, the biggest one. The other ones are called Castello diMontebello and Castello di Sasso Corbaro. The castles that belonged to the Italians until the late 15th century played a major part in defending the entry of Switzerland from invaders.

Behind me is Castello di Montebello.

On Friday September 7th, I hit up Cardada, the Peak of Locarno.  I took a gondola similar to the one at Grouse Mountain in Vancouver and then hiked to the top of Cimetta where there is an observatory. On the hike there were cows, para-gliders, and little cottages, where hikers can stop to eat and drink.

The views were amazing and the pictures do not do it justice, but I have posted one just so you get the idea.

This past weekend I went down to Lugano with some of my teammates and to meet up with some other American basketball players for me to speak English with. We went out on the lake in a paddle boat and went to Ikea.

On Sunday our team volunteered at Sportissimo, a festival that promotes sports in Bellinzona for adults and kids. We ran a basketball station outside where we taught kids some basketball fundamentals.

We also participated in some stations ourselves. The Zumba station was our favourite because we got to dance.

Anyways, this week will bring more basketball and I will get you some pictures of my apartment.

Ciao from Switzerland!

Julie

Matteke Hutzler – Tenth Blog from Portugal – Playoffs

It’s been a while since my last blog post — and I apologize. But since mid-March the weather in Portugal has been outstanding, so I have been spending a lot of my time outdoors.  The 25-plus degree weather has made perfect beach weather — twice I’ve even braved the cold Atlantic waters! It’s been a nice treat spending the last month outside enjoying the premature Portuguese summer, but my focus has never waned from my purpose — competing, improving and working hard towards a strong regular season finish.

A quick statistical review of our final 5 regular season games.

@ AFC vs. Alges (1)

66-55 LOSS

15 points – 5 rebounds – 3 steals

@ Montijo (8)

80-83 WIN (OT)

10 points – 9 rebounds – 1 block – 3 steals – 3 assists

@ AFC vs. Quinta dos Lombos (4)

80-67 LOSS

15 points – 10 rebounds – 2 steals

@ AFC vs. CAB (6)

91-85 LOSS (OT)

28 points on 13/13 shooting – 8 rebounds – 2 steals

@ Olivais (unranked)

83-75 WIN

20 points – 16 rebounds

Two personal highlights from the past month have been career high statistics in both scoring and rebounding. I had 28 points versus CAB as well as 16 rebounds versus Olivais. It seems like whenever playoffs are approaching I begin to play my best basketball. It’s too bad that it takes me almost an entire season to find my groove, but better late than never I guess!

Our team has forced overtime in two of our last five games. In the overtime loss however, we were leading almost the entire game. In the overtime win we fought back in the 4th quarter to force extra time. We really struggle to play consistently for an entire 40 minutes — we either have a great first half and build a solid lead but later lose it OR have a slow start and need to dig ourselves out of a big hole in the second half. Besides our inconsistency during games, the overall vibe of our team has really improved. Our tenacity and desire to compete has been the biggest upgrade. It’s evident since the start of the New Year through our ability to keep up with top ranked teams, often losing by only single digits now compared to blow-outs in the first half of the season.

This weekend marks the start of the post season. Ranked 7th in an 8 team playoff pool, we face #2 ranked Vagos in a best of 3 series. This is the same team that hit 18 of 24 threes against us in a nationally televised game in our gym in early January. Hopefully, their shooters aren’t as hot from behind the arc in the next 2, possibly 3 games. We don’t match up very well with this team – they seem to run on us in transition and we lose confidence in our offensive ability because of that. We have struggled with our on ball defense all season long and Vagos definitely takes advantage of knowing that. The key to our success this weekend is containing their ball handlers, defending ball screens with good rotation, as well as shooting a decent percentage from the field. If we can do this for 40 minutes, while playing in our own gym, then I think we could have a chance to pull off an upset!

Wish us luck!

Matteke Mary

Matteke Hutzler – Ninth Blog from Portugal – A Strong Finish

Ola!

It’s crazy to think that my time in Portugal is quickly coming to an end. Already we are beginning another new month and my mid-April departure date keeps creeping closer. Since coming back after Christmas, time has just flown by. I’ve also had some Canadian visitors keeping me company, which creates a much livelier daily routine. We’ve spent lots of time in the downtown core of Porto during the days and nightsshopping, eating and enjoying the nightlife are the primary activities that fill our itinerary. The weather has more than co-operated with sun–filled days of at least +14 degrees. This past week is only the third time we’ve had rain since the New Year.  It’s pretty easy to be motivated to get up everyday and get to work when it’s so beautiful outside… not to mention there’s now snow to deal with!

We finally got our first win of the New Year as well, with a 75-52 road win over Barcelos, where I posted 19 points and 9 rebounds. I think the key to our win was that we played 40 solid minutes as a team. We worked in sync offensively and defensively in such an efficient way that it fueled us with unbelievable motivation. Even our team practices over the last month have been on another level of focus, intensity and passion. It’s great to win, but it’s an even better feeling when you’re proud of the effort of everyone involved.

Our most recent game was against last-place ranked Algueirao. The week leading up to this game was really unorganized because of lack of practice time due to the Carnival holiday.  A regular week consists of four team practices and 4 individual practices but this week was half of that typical workload. The night before game day, our coach warned us not to underestimate our opponent and keep focused on the goal even though we faced some adversity during the past week. Unfortunately, that message must have fallen on deaf ears as we lost 69-70. Trailing by one at half time, we struggled to maintain a defensive consistency and couldn’t contain their 55% field goal percentage. After going 7-7 from the free throw line the game before, I could not convert on 2 free throw attempts with 4 seconds left in the 4th. For me personally, it was a heart breaking loss because I had a great offensive and defensive game putting up 14 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.  I was feeling great the entire game and was confident when I went to the free throw line. Mind over matter I guess because mentally I failed to cash-in on the opportunity to win the game or at least send my team to overtime. Moving on now though, missing a free throw definitely is NOT the end of the world… it’s just the feeling of temporarily failing your job that sucks. But failure is not fatal and it’s the courage to continue that is most admirable. All I know for sure is the next time I get to the line, I am hitting those free throws.

This past weekend was an off weekend and I had the chance to get to Lisbon for two days. Just over 300kms to the south, Lisbonis Portugal’s largest city with a metro population of 2.8 million people. After a 2.5 hour train ride, we arrived in Lisbon and checked into our Hostel. The city was much different from Porto because it thrives on tourism. Porto has much more of a small town feel whereas Lisbon is much more Americanized for tourists; Starbucks, Hard Rock Café, McDonalds and a high end shopping district. It was a great weekend overall and I was excited to tour a new city. I think I may have the travel bug and try to get to a few more European cities before I head back to Napanee.

This weekend we travel to Torres Novas to play a game that we need to win. With our loss to Algueirao, our margin for error has gotten smaller. If we want to make playoffs we need to get at least two more wins. And one of those wins needs to come this Saturday. Wish us luck!

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