Tracy's Thoughts: Last Day in ItalyWe headed to Lake Como to spend our final day in Italy beside the picturesque lake. We visited the shops and caught some sun. It was a long day of swimming in the lake, riding paddle boats and cruising down the boutique-lined streets for last-minute gifts or more presents for ourselves! After enjoying every last bite of our authentic Italian gelato, the team headed to our very own pizza-making class.
Upon arriving at the restaurant, the players and staff were greeted by the owner and executive chef of Tiare, which is an amazing pizzeria. With our chef hats on, the team was taught how to make an original Italian pizza. All the players selected their own ingredients and placed their pizza in the wood-burning oven. We then devoured our delicious pre-game meal. Then it was off to our final game in Sada, where we played against a Serie A1 level team.
When we arrived at the stadium, we were introduced to several of our assistant coach Libby Bassett's old teammates. Libby played in Italy for several months and was more than excited to see her Italian friends again!
The game was eventful to say the least. The Golden Bears went down, 1-0, at halftime. But a goal by McKenna-Louise McKetty, which was her third in three games, lifted our spirits. In a heated battle with very physical play from both teams, the Bears were victorious with a goal in the 90th minute by Lisa Kevorkian, who scored her fourth goal in three games.
Tomorrow we must wake up very early to return back to Berkeley. The players, parents and staff had a truly amazing experience, with life-long memories to share with our friends, family and Cal soccer alumni when we return.
Ciao, Tracy Hamm
Tracy's Thoughts - Day 9: Lake Como and Bellagio, ItalyThe team and staff woke up excited to head to the famous Lake Como for a day of sight seeing as well as a boat trip to the city of Bellagio. Lake Como was absolutely beautiful. Shaped like an upside down y, the lake is surrounded by beautiful villas and small towns that edge the border.
The team spent a few hours in the city of Como. We visited the shops and took the cable car to the top of a small mountain to see the view. Then, we all headed towards Bellagio.
After about an hour-long boat ride, we stepped foot on a beautiful lake-side city. Many of the players dined at small cafés along the water. Others chose to head up into the hills and visited other ristorantes and trattorias.
It was a very relaxing day and a perfect way to round out our trip to Italy.
Ciao! Tracy Hamm
June 1, 2009: SwitzerlandToday we traveled about an hour north of Erba, a small city where our hotel is located, to Switzerland! Our bus took us to an outlet shopping center with over 160 shops that is just across the Italy/Switzerland border. After spending a few hours there and packing our luggage so full of purchase that the zippers are about to pop, we returned to the hotel in preparation for our second game against another Serie A2 level team.
After a pre-game meal, we hopped on the bus and headed to the city of Como. We arrived at a great field with quite a few fans awaiting our arrival. We started the game relaxed, with Rosie Aguilera, who is normally a goalkeeper, at forward. Coach Neil McGuire had apparently promised this months ago! After a good game, the Golden Bears were victors - winning, 5-0, over their Italian opponents. Sophomore forward Alex Morgan had two goals while redshirt sophomore forward Lisa Kevorkian, junior midfielder Katie Oakes and sophomore defender/forward McKenna-Louise McKetty each scored one apiece.
Day 7: Moments in MilanMILAN, Italy - We arrived in Milan late Sunday morning after a difficult time packing the bus. With about a week of shopping under our belts, the athlete and coaching staff's luggage has seemed to almost double in size! Our first stop was the Duomo, which is the largest Gothic church in the world. The entire church was built with white marble, and it is the centerpiece of the lively and industrious city of Milan.
Many of the players took in some sights such as Castello Sforzesco and the opera house, which is the location of the famous "Last Supper." Others chose to explore the shopping areas for which Milan is world famous. After a short time of roaming through the boutique-lined streets, we met back at the bus and headed to the much-anticipated Inter Milan vs. Atalanta match.
The stadium and atmosphere was something that can't be described in words. The energy and excitement created by the fans were incredible. It was thrilling for the staff and players. But more importantly, to the coaches, the enjoyment for us came from witnessing how the players reacted to the environment and how entertained and impressed they were with their surroundings.
Throughout the game we learned new cheers and songs, which we continued singing on the bus later that evening! Inter Milan won, 4-3, in an exhilarating and high-scoring game. After the match ended, we watched the team receive the trophy for winning its 17th Italian League Championship, which was an event in itself! Another exciting element to witness first hand was the final game and retirement of Luis Figo, who was World Player of the Year in 2002.
Ciao, Tracy Hamm
Tracy's Thoughts - Day 6: VeniceVENICE, Italy - Once again the team woke up early to a sunny day that was full of things to do! After breakfast, we loaded up the bus and headed to the beautiful city of Venice. Looking forward to a day packed with gondola rides, shopping and sight-seeing, the team was full of energy. After discovering that Venice is made up of a series of about 150 islands, and the only mode of transportation is by foot or boat, the team was anticipating a great day for exploring and adventure.
We took a quick tour of St. Marco's square and church , then we had plenty of free time to roam around. After a long day of sight-seeing, the players returned to the boat with shopping bags and cameras in hand, ready to be taken back to the bus and head to the hotel near our next destination: Milan!
Ciao, Tracy Hamm
Tracy's Thoughts - Day 5SAN MARINO and RICCIONE, Italy - In the morning, we woke up early and headed to San Marino, an independent republic within Italy. On our bus ride towards San Marino, from the distance, we could see a large castle on top of a mountain. Thirty minutes later, we discovered that was our destination! After a tour of the capital, the team spent the rest of the day visiting the shops and strolling down the cobblestone paths. There was an awe-inspiring view from the castle, where the team took at least 100 pictures.
When the bus returned to pick us up, the staff played a practical joke on the team. We pretended that the players were in trouble for being a few minutes late. The bus driver and our tour guide angrily told us all to get off the bus. Confused, the players hurried off the bus, only to find the driver start up the engine and take off! After a few minutes of concerned faces and comments, the bus driver returned. After tons of laughter, we all got back on the bus and returned to Riccione to prepare for our first game later in the evening.
We played an Italian Serie A2 level club team a few miles outside Riccione at a great soccer complex. Unfortunately, it was very windy and pouring down rain! Despite the weather, the Bears won the match, 8-2, with goals coming from Katrin Omarsdottir, Alex Morgan, Lisa Kevorkian, Torrey Delaplane, McKenna-Louise McKetty, and Katie Oakes.
Ciao, Tracy Hamm
Riccione RecapRICCIONE, Italy - Day three of the team's long-awaited Italy trip is off and running (no pun intended).
After completing a morning training session of some skill work, possession and fitness, we hopped on the bus and are headed towards the small, but lively, beach town of Riccone. It is a four-hour bus ride through the beautiful, green Italian countryside. Although it's a long ride, "Shrek" has come along to keep us all entertained, even though the majority of us have been napping due to our 17-hour day in Rome yesterday.
We arrived in Riccione in the early afternoon. It was a perfect day to relax and catch up on some sleep before our first game on May 29. After a morning training session and a quick hotel check-in, the team had lots of free time to explore the town before dinner. The players and staff varied in their activities. Several of the players' families joined us on the trip, so some student-athletes put in quality family time, while others went to the beautiful beach and caught some sun or did some shopping. It was a relaxing day for all of us.
Ciao, Tracy Hamm
Tracy's Thoughts - Day Two: Vatican CityVATICAN CITY - Day two started what seemed to be 10 minutes after our heads hit the pillow. But again, the student-athletes were ready to hit the city. Our tour started at 9 a.m. at the Vatican. While waiting patiently outside the city walls, we were struck with another pleasant surprise - Tony Parker and Eva Longoria! Nice to know we have some future paparazzi on our team.
The Vatican was amazing, with the grand finale being the absolutely beautiful Sistine Chapel. After our tour completed, we had a quick lunch and were told to head back through the Sistine Chapel to enter into the Basilica, also known as St. Peter's church, which is the largest Catholic church in the world. The Basilica was definitely a treat. There are no words to describe the size of this church, nor the beauty and detail that went into making it! The players and I were in awe.
After spending time inside the Basilica, everyone was on their own to discover the city. We had about five hours of free time before we were to meet again for dinner and to watch the Champions League Final game. For the most part everyone shopped and walked around the Champions League Fan Festival.
Dinner and the game were both tasty and exciting... we got on the bus tired, but smiling. Today is a new day with more adventures to come! Tracy Hamm
Tracy's Thoughts - Day One: Rome
ROME - We've arrived in Italy! On our first day here, our guide, Tiziana, took us into Rome to start our tour. We began at the famous Spanish Steps. We met Fabio (not the Fabio, but nonetheless), our guide, who took us on what seemed like a 20-mile walking tour of Rome.
The team was in great spirits - stopping to get gelato, taking pictures, shopping, and pushing Mariam Azimi in her wheelchair. Mariam has been in great spirits and great to say the least despite her injury. For those who you don't know, Mariam tore her ACL about two weeks before we were scheduled to depart - talk about bad timing!
We visited the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and the Colosseum, among other absolutely amazing architecture. We saw tons of FC Barcelona and Manchester United fans doing their fair share of sightseeing, too. Once we arrived at the Coliseum, much to our surprise, there was the Champions League Final Festival happening. We took a quick stroll around and saw the actual trophy cup, as well Barca's president speak, which was very exciting!Tracy Hamm