Jayhawks' Brazil Tour: Recap

June 2, 2008

<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

The <?xml:namespace prefix=”st1″ ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags”?>Kansas soccer team returned from its nine-day tour of Brazil safe and sound this weekend. The Jayhawks earned a pair of wins during their four exhibition matches and also enjoyed the sites and culture of the South American nation. Each day of the trip was chronicled by a different member of the team and is listed below along with a photo gallery of the trip.

Day One – Estelle Johnson

It was a long trip but we finally made it into the Sao Paulo airport. All of the girls were tired from the ten-hour flight so we napped on the bus ride to Santos. When we got into Santos and checked into our cozy hotel, it was about noon and we had the rest of the day to kill.

The weather was breezy and warm, so the entire team walked around the town and made a quick stop at the beach before heading to a local restaurant for lunch. After lunch we headed back to the hotel to relax a bit. Some of us changed into our swim suits and headed back to the beach while others lounged by the pool. Around four o’clock we loaded on the bus and went to the closest soccer stadium for a short practice session just to get loosened up and used to the warm weather that we’d be playing in the next day.

After practice we rushed back to the hotel in time to catch the second half and overtime of the Manchester United vs. Chelsea Championship game. It was a close one, but Manchester pulled away with the win in a penalty kick shootout. Most of us were upset because we were rooting for Chelsea. Julie (Hanley) was especially upset and stormed up to her room after the deciding shot hit the net.

After the disappointing loss we all went to our rooms to shower before dinner at seven. We had dinner in the hotel then wanted to keep exploring the town of Santos. So, the entire team roamed around for about an hour before hitting the beach one more time. When we got to the beach we were fascinated to find several pick up soccer games going on by the local right there on the sand.

This was the highlight for most of the girls. We sat, watched, and cheered until the games were over. A few of the players came over to us and tried to interact but it was difficult due to the language barrier. Since we only knew one word in Portuguese, compared to the three that they knew in English, it was an interesting but exciting interaction.

After we said our goodbyes to our new friends, we walked back to the hotel and soaked our feet in the pool. For Shannon (McCabe), that wasn’t enough. She changed into her suit and swam a bit before giving the team a special performance of a song off of the Little Mermaid soundtrack. It was hilarious and she even got claps from some Georgian men who were lounging by the pool as well.

After the performance we were all so tired of laughing that we decided to hit the sac. Overall it was an exciting first night in Brazil.

Day Two – Kaitlyn Cunningham

We woke up early to have breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast we went to the beach as a team. We watched some of the locals play a game similar to tennis as well as watching some soccer. Then we headed back to the hotel to lay around for a while until lunch.

Lunch was our pre-game meal, so we had to make sure that we ate enough to keep us energized for the game. After lunch we had some time to sit around, however, for some of my teammates and I this time was stressful because we had to wait for our luggage to arrive. After a long awaited arrival, Coach Francis and the other staff members finally arrived. Thank goodness!

Everyone got prepared for the game and we were ready to go. We arrived at the field around the same time as the team from Santos and both teams warmed up. When the game first started we were intimated knowing that we were playing girls who started for the Brazil national team. Santos was a very technical team and they were always on the move. The referees did not appreciate how physical we played and were calling a lot of fouls on us, Coach (Francis) did not really agree with all of these calls.

Unfortunately we lost 1-0 but we had our chances to score. At the end of the game we took pictures with the Santos team as well as some of the locals that had come to watch. The girls on Santos’ team wanted to trade jerseys but we couldn’t, so we found other belongings to trade such as Shannon McCabe’s shorts and Lauren Jackson’s headband, which pretty much made their day.

We all got back on the bus and headed back to the hotel. Everyone showered and got ready for dinner. We ate in the hotel restaurant. After dinner, the whole staff headed off to watch a soccer game and the girls headed to the beach. We got to the beach and found a few guys who we had met the night before. Some of us sat on the beach with them, while others went and watched the big game. We all met back up at the hotel and sat out by the pool for a little bit and then headed back to our rooms for the night. Just another fun and exciting day in Santos!!

Day Three – Jessica Bush

This morning we woke up around 9:30 and ate breakfast at our hotel. After that the whole team headed to the beach for some sun, beach soccer, and waves. The team split into two groups; one group started a big game of pick up soccer with the locals; and of course we won!

The other group began an entertaining juggling circle with Coach Francis’ wife Tiff, (the soccer staff), and a lot of the girls, along with two of the local boys. Not only was the soccer an experience in itself, the jumping in the waves was brought to a whole new level when the life guard had to reprimand our team for going out too far in the ocean and guess who was leading the pack? COACH FRANCIS!

After leaving the beach we headed to lunch at a nearby restaurant for a quick bite to eat, then into Santos downtown where we visited the city hall. Marcos our tour guide led us around the downtown on a trolley/train and gave us the history of the city. Later we were fortunate enough to visit the coffee museum just before National Coffee day!

Some of the girls were interviewed on the local TV station for their intake on the newest flavors of coffee. After coffee we waited around for our bus. While we waited we impressed the locals by playing Jimmy Paw (a legendary KU soccer traditional dancing game), the game got pretty intense, but was very fun; Tiff even joined in!

When the bus finally arrived we went to Santos Soccer Club Stadium: Home of Pele. We viewed the museum and went on the field. We even got a tour of their locker room and learned about the teams’ pre-game rituals. It was really great to be in such a competitive soccer-driven community.

Later on, after the tour was over, we went through the gift shop, Mo (Monica Dolinsky), Gravie (Kristin Graves), Missy (Geha), Rog (Sara Rogers), and I gave an amazing performance of Santos fight song; I’m pretty sure we can sing it better than the Brazilians (just ask Mo, I bet she won’t mind performing it for you!).

For dinner we went to a pizzeria where they served us all sorts of various pizzas. The pizzas had all kinds of crazy toppings; some that I couldn’t even identify, but probably tried just to be polite. After that, our dinner was interrupted by some high class karaoke from Demitrius; followed by Dancing Queen from Shannon McCabe and La Bamba from Coach Francis. Upon returning to the hotel we wrapped up the night with some relaxing time at the pool. What a way to end a great day!

Day Four – Shannon McCabe

Saturday we woke up for the last time in Santos, ate breakfast at the hotel, then packed up our suitcases and checked out. Before leaving Santos we rode on a cable car that took us on a ride high above the city where we were able to take beautiful pictures of the buildings and ocean below.

After seeing this breath-taking view of Santos we made our way to out next destination, São Paulo. The city of São Paulo is nothing like we have ever seen before. It’s crowded, busy, and full of excitement and culture. Upon our arrival we ate lunch at a place where various meats were served, including a Brazilian favorite… chicken hearts. It had good flavor but was very tough to chew, I probably wouldn’t eat it again but was glad I tried it.

After lunch we checked into our hotel then left for our game against the University of São Paulo. We dominated the game and won 3-0 with a goal from Lauren Jackson and two goals from Erin Ellefson.

Following the victory we went straight to dinner at another local pizzeria and had many different kinds, including a scrumptious dessert pizza consisting of bananas and cinnamon. Next we went to a four-story mall with many unique shops. The majority of the merchandise was a bit expensive and different from what we see the United States, and of course the locals stared at us the whole time, we definitely stood out in the crowd.

We were finally able to get back to the hotel and dress up for an exciting night on the town. Our interpreter, Gabriella, took us to a Brazilian discothèque. We danced the night away and were entertained by an exotic belly dancer equipped with swords and fire along with a trio of attractive males.

We were in the V.I.P. section and had a perfect view of the stage. It was late at night and even though we begged and pleaded we could not stop at McDonalds on the way back to the hotel. At around 2:30 in the morning we snuggled into our hard as rock beds and went to sleep. It was an exhausting day but by far the most unforgettable!

Day Five – Jenny Murtaugh & Kristin Graves

We arose, packed up and headed to lunch. We drove over to the market where we ate at a questionable buffet, we never know what the food is. =) Puppies were being sold everywhere. Elf (Erin Ellefson) bought the funniest looking straw hat for 15 reals. We all made fun at her at first but everyone ended up wanting to wear it. I (Jennifer Murtaugh) bought 700 wind chimes. The market is now out of wind chimes.

Two beautiful Brazilian ceramic tiles caught Jessica’s Bush’s eye. They were engraved with eloquent Portuguese phrases. She was very proud of this purchase until she discovered that the phrases translated to say, “Not everything is flowers” and “Walk walk, soon you will be far away.” Very discouraging words but the tiles still looked pretty. We saw many funny things there. Some of them included a pink and blue poodle, a parrot with a cowboy hat, and a clown.

It was hard to bargain with the vendors at first because of the language barrier but we (Kristin Graves and Jennifer Murtaugh) came up with a brilliant way of bargaining. We told the vendors we only had so much money. They would say, “20 reals” and we would hold up 10 reals and make sad faces and say, “only diez.” This worked for us many times.

We were at the market for two hours. We then headed to the pro game where São Paulo was going to play Coritiba. The stadium was huge and the food accommodations were promising with Habib’s fast food boxes. It was a good game and it ended in a 1-1 tie. The team headed back to the bus where we drove to the mountains, our final stop of the trip.

On the way we watched The Golden Compass, where we found that only kids’ demons could change form. We arrived at the hotel St. Nicholas on the mountains and our mouths hit the ground when we saw through the darkness and moonlight, a waterslide! We knew we had struck gold with this hotel.

Day Six – Erin Ellefson & Erin Lewis

To the cocka-doodle-doo of a rooster we did wake

Then straight to the pool

Where our bodies, they did bake

A wicked game of volleyball we played in the pool

The team of Tots, Kelly and I (Erin Ellefson)

Took everyone to school

We then moved to the sand where the players took on the staff

Although the players lost

The games were fun, providing many a laugh

Before leaving the hotel, one last thing had to be done

The freshmen had to perform their dance

And then to practice, more time in the sun

After our kick-around, to a few shops we did go

Rog and Gravie bought Brazilian style hot dogs

They were very delicious, it was fo sho

Back to the bus, we all took a seat

Returning to our hotel

Now all out of the heat

After a long day, we were feeling kinda weak

So we ate dinner

And then played a mean game of hide and seek

The boundaries were large, many places to hide

Molly and Bushy up in a tree

But nothing beat Rog and Gravie, in the water slide

The sixth day in Brazil was bossy, this is true

Nothing could top it

Not even a trip to the zoo

Day Seven – Kim Boyer

1 sweater, 2 sweater, red sweater, blue sweater, green sweater, purple sweater, gray sweater, black sweater, multi-colored sweaters, big sweaters, little sweaters ugly sweaters, pretty sweaters, so many different sweaters.

This was how our day began. We went into town and all that we were able to shop for were sweaters. Fortunately there was one store that didn’t have sweaters and most people bought flip-flops, myself included. The weather is amazing here. It is warm everyday. Once we got back from the sweater extravaganza we had some lunch and some down time, where we had to stay out of the sun so we wouldn’t get tired before our game later that evening.

Most people took naps or watched some movies or caught up on Grey’s Anatomy. A few of us watched Casino Royale on the big screen they had in the lounge area. Next we all got on the bus and headed to the game where we were to play the Corinthians. Elf was reunited with her long lost iPod that was found in a secret compartment in the iPod player. It was a very happy day for her.

Our game was so exciting. We found out that it was televised live throughout the whole country of Brazil. Wow! We had cameras in our faces during our whole warm up and even while we were putting on our jerseys, a little creepy, but it pumped us up being able to play under the lights in a foreign country on live television.

We started out really pumped up and played an amazing first half. Kaitlyn (Cunningham) was on fire and we had two goals in the first half that were made by Jess (Bush) and Emily (Cressy). The second half wasn’t as good but we had another goal by Jess but unfortunately (the Corinthians) scored as well.

The referees weren’t too good, but what can you expect? We had a few injuries but still pulled off a win. After the game we got back to the hotel where we all had to get in the freezing cold pool for twenty minutes to help with recovery for the next day’s game. We had a little less than five minutes to go when Julie did an amazing belly flop to let us get out early. It was the best belly flop I had ever seen.

Then we had dinner and time afterwards until bed time. I went to bed a little early but I think some people stayed up a little while playing card games in the lounge or just chit-chatting. It was a good day.

Day Eight – Missy Geha

Today was another eventful and exciting day here in Aguas, Brazil! We woke up and consumed the typical Brazilian hotel breakfast; rolls, ham, cheese, eggs and fruit. Mine was especially good this morning!

After breakfast we left for our Jeep Tour! We have been looking forward to this activity all trip. We took a few jeeps through the beautiful safari of Brazil! (Actually it was just through the mountains) We saw Toucan Sam and Tony the Tiger! That was my favorite part of the tour! They told me to keep eating Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes to keep them alive. I gave them my word on that.

When we got to the top of the mountain, there was an enormous cross. Everyone took pictures of it and stared at the green and mountainous scenery. When the picture taking was done, the only thing to do was go down the mountain. On our way back down to the bottom, we stopped at a small farmstead with pigs, goats, horses and weird birds. We believe that in this farmstead lies the biggest pig in the entire world. Molly was astounded by its size. They also had zip lining! It only cost five reals to do it! I had never zip-lined before so I figured why not? Even coach (Francis), (Athletic Trainer) John (Zirkelbach) and Tiff (coach’s wife) zip-lined! No worries, we have pictures of that, too.

After the jeep tour, we had a mere hour to get our game face on for the night’s competition against our toughest competition of the trip, SAAD. This was the most exciting game to play in. Despite our tired, worn out legs from the other three games, we competed very well. The score went back and forth up until the last few minutes which was an unlucky goal against us to make the final score 4-3, SAAD. We were definitely disappointed with the outcome of the game. We should have come out with the win, but the ball did not end up bouncing our way.

Despite the loss, we had one more night to embrace Brazil. We ate dinner, took showers and made our way to the lobby area to listen to music, watch TV and play games for the evening. Curfew was a whole hour later! We didn’t have to be in bed until midnight! What a treat it was! The coaches wanted us rested for the next day’s activity; WHITE WATER RAFTING!

Day Nine – Julie Hanley

The last day of the trip started out earlier then usual. We woke up early for breakfast at 8:15 despite the rooster doing its usual cock-a-doodle-do every morning before the sun came up. After eating breakfast the team headed back up to our rooms to get dressed for the much anticipated day of white water rafting. After going back and forth on what to wear for this adventure we all decided on sports bras and spandex and loaded the bus.

The ride was about an hour to the river so the majority of us slept on the way there. When we arrived we were all excited to get started. After sitting through safety instructions that none of us understood, we loaded up a truck and headed out to the river. After the truck ride to the river we had to form groups of five to six people for each boat. My boat consisted of Molly (strength coach), Jess Bush, Gravie, Shannon, Monica, and our leader Elias. Before getting in the boat we did some serious stretching which we all found to be very funny, as we had white helmets, and huge blue life jackets on. When we got into the boat Monica and I decided we would sit in the front since we naturally have the most endurance and strength on the team and we figured we could keep the group going if they got fatigued (ha)!

As we got into the boat Monica lost her footing and bit it in the raft which me and the other girls found hilarious but I think Elias was a little uneasy with our group and wasn’t quite sure what we was getting into with our group.

When we finally all got into the boat and got situated we headed down the river. Our train of about 6 rafts headed down the river at a pretty consistent pace. Each raft had its own team name. They consisted of the PYT’s(pretty young things), the dream team, habibs (our famous lunch in a box meal), the green monkeys, titanic, and the putas. It wasn’t until the third rapid when Molly got a little tap on the shoulder from our raft leader. He kindly asked her to switch seats with Monica and when asked why, he simply mimicked her lazy effort with the paddle and put his head as if he was sleeping. He tried to keep her awake by pretending to throw her in the water.

It was all fun in games until he actually pulled her so hard she flipped into the water and had to be lifted back into safety. This wasn’t the only fall of the trip. After each boat went down a rapid we would wait for the other boats and the safety instructors to get down and watch everyone as they came down. Our boat usually went down first or second so we got to see everyone go, some of the faces were priceless! On one particular rapid I looked back and noticed that Murtaugh was the only one sitting in the front of her boat, and she had this look on her face like something bad had just happened! As we looked back up the river our boat saw a white helmet in the water and someone’ arms flailing in the water. Guess who?

Missy had fallen in! Luckily the safety instructor was nearby to pull her out of the water! Along with Missy, Tiff (coach’s wife) was also thrown from their rafts due to turbulence of the rapid. Everyone else made it back safely to the end of the river and well all dried off to head back to the fort to finish packing and preparing to leave lizarb.

When we got back to the hotel we all showered and finished packing before loading the bus to head to the airport. It was a three hour ride to the airport and we all tried to stay up so we would be able to sleep on the plane. On the way we watched a couple movies and finally arrived at the São Paulo airport to make our way back to Kansas.

Overall, the trip was an unforgettable experience. We all had so much fun and bonded as a team. We couldn’t think of a better way to jump start next fall’s season which we are all looking forward to!

Favorite Quotes from the trip:

“Man, I’ve been burping chicken hearts all afternoon.”

– Kristin Graves

“Julie, put down the donut and come open my door!”

– Monica Dolinsky

“NGB in Lizarb!”

– Everyone

“Only kid’s deamons can change…”

– Everyone

“Elfy, what kind of straightener have you been using? Your hair is looking good!”

– Julie Hanley

“Paga, paga, paga, no paga!”

– Kaio

“Erin, use the zoom on that wind and shoot!”

– Julie Hanley

“If you think your falling out of the boat, just grab the hope…”

– Gaby (the interpreter)

“Will you guys not splash and get my hearing aid wet?”

– Emily Cressy

“1A, 1A! I am in first class!”

– Monica Dolinsky