Monday, May 26, 2014

Hiking with Friends

Tucker Kellogg & Bailey Tuckerman Kent
Click to enlarge photo. 
Home for the holiday weekend, former student-athlete Matt Kellogg called last night wondering if we'd like to hike on Memorial Day morning. Having been cloistered in meetings for a week, I loved the idea of hiking with Matt, his wife Michaela, his sister Jen… and Bailey's new friend Tucker Kellogg. To see the full album, click here.
Michaela, Matt, and Jen
Click to enlarge photo. 

Rich & Bailey
Click to enlarge photo. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Soccer Lessons

Doug, Mark, Darin, Jeff
(Click on photo to enlarge.)
For several years I've been mulling over a story about the state soccer teams I took to England: 30 teams, 13 years, 500 players, and 7 arrests. This story could be framed as a memoir; problem is,  I'm not interested in being the centerpiece of the story. I could see it being a young adult novel not unlike Play On! Small-town kids in the big city of London. Naturally, creative nonfiction would work. I'd narrate but I keep stumbling over how to band the 13 years. Should I focus on a few players or perhaps write about one specific team and bring in the stories from other years?

Now, I'm playing with a multigenre approach that would capture the experience by using a variety of genre like essays, stories, poems, photographs, "This I Believe" essays, syntheses, songs… I like the idea of this approach, and now it's figuring out how to go about it. I think I'll give this genre a go and see what happens.

These photos come from 1984 and 1992. The '84 team, one of my first, played a match on a quagmire of a pitch. We wore short molded-soled soccer boots while our English opponents wore foul-weather studs. Needless to say, we fell down a lot and they stood up… they scored and we did not. Even the referee and our bus driver helped us out in the second half when the score stood 10-nil. You can tell that Doug Watt was not pleased.
Doug Watt 1984

Most of the '92 team sang wherever we went: on trains, in our hotel, on the streets, in the stands at professional matches, and notoriously, in one of the largest Underground stations in London. Some of us were robbed in the hotel on this trip, so the boys concocted a story and drew up signs. They sang in the Liverpool Street Station at the base of the escalators with signs at their feet:
American Soccer Team Robbed. 
Need Money to Get home.

Coupled with the acoustics of the Underground Station singing The Beatles' "Hey, Jude," they were good… the money started floating off the escalators and into the bucket from smiling tourists and pale-faced Londoners. And then the London police appeared…

Maine Team 1992 | St. Clement Danes School, Chorleywood, England

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sam's Journals, an article

"Writing for me is a way to process what is buzzing around in my head. When I put my thoughts on paper, I begin to see things more clearly." --Sam Morse

Over the past couple of years, I've interviewed Sam Morse, a ski racer from Carrabassett Valley Academy. CVA is an elite ski racing school up near Sugarloaf/USA. They have produced a slew of Olympic skiers and snowboarders.

For the past 9 years, Sam has been a devoted journal writer and notebook keeper.  When it comes to his ski racing, Sam keeps lots and lots of notes. And as he says, "Writing never fails, whatever amount of effort I put into my writing, I get back!"

I wrote an article for Independent Teacher Magazine that features Sam while introducing the concept of athletic team notebooks and journals. That article can be found here. Just last week, Sam became a member of the US Ski Team at 18 years old!  Believe me, this kid paid his dues.

Silver Medal at World Championships
Start House at World Championships
Reviewing his 9 years of journals and notebooks

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Big "4"… Happy Birthday, Bailey

Bailey at 4 weeks
Bailey turned 4 on May 14th. It's curious how a dog's life can make us mindful of our own. Four years have passed since first visiting Bailey, his two sisters, and Maggie, his mom. Smitten with the three puppies, I made the decision. Since I was on sabbatical for the fall, I had the time to do the basic puppy training necessary.

If Bailey were to live the American average for Bernese Mountain Dogs, his life would end at 7.5 years. I sure hope that doesn't happen! But if it did, I've enjoyed this joyful mutt. Every single morning he awakes and howls and climbs up on my bed with his front paws to celebrate the day. Naturally, he's happy to see me, but part of his joy surfaces because he's about to eat. Each and every morning, I smile.
Bailey at 8 weeks.

Four year old with his special Birthday Bone!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

New book: Water Polo Team Notebook (36/60)

Last month we finished the Water Polo Team Notebook. I had the great good fortune of working on this book with John Vargas, Stanford University coach ... former Olympian, US National Team and Olympic coach who also has won a NCAA national championship as a coach and as a player. This is John's 13th year with Stanford and his 35th year coaching and playing the sport on the professional level.  

There's something special about working with people at the top of their professions. In John's case, he's ultra organized as well as responsive and respectful. He didn't ponder life while coauthoring this book with me; we got to it. He invited players to write models for us; he shared drafts with fellow coaches, players, and former players. Even his 84-year-old mom got into the act providing feedback and finding a typo!

This summer, John will direct the Junior Olympics festival at Stanford. He and his partners will host 8,000 swimmers in a slew of pools around the city. Eight thousand…   

Writing is hard. Collaborating on a creative project like a book can be extraordinarily difficult. But working with a thoughtful professional like John Vargas made this project not only an enjoyable experience, but also an opportunity to make a friend.  

Go, Victoria! Go, Bruins!

Victoria Kent, UCLA #6
Bailey's God-Dog Mom, Victoria Kent, plays for the national championships today with her team, the UCLA Bruins. I love thinking about athletes who have given years to their sport and then, make it into the final game. Of course, it'd be great to win a national collegiate championship, but just being there means for a lot. We'll be watching the match on the computer today and thinking about the many years Victoria and her teammates have spent in the pool to earn a spot in the last game of 2014. Here's to UCLA, their opponents, the Stanford Cardinal, and our Victoria… play well and enjoy the moment.

Semifinal Game vs. USC

A win over the cross-town rivals USC Trojans