I’m not sure where to start, not because many things happened or that our path to the end of the tournament overwhelms my memory, but because my memory is so poor. There are quite a few memorable moments from this trip and I’ll do my best to recant them all.
It was the tail end of November (Movember) during this tournament… here’s what the Canadian men (minus Christian) were sporting. I tried to accentuate my moustache but it went terribly wrong as it appears my efforts achieved nothing more than “creeper” status.
Jamie and I traveled down on the same flight and a real nice taxi driver met us at the airport holding a sign displaying our names. We hopped aboard and headed to our hotel, not before stopping at two different gas stations as the driver explained he needed to fill his tires up with air. When we finally got to a station that had working air we noticed the air pressure gauge read 8 at the start, the drive continued to pump air in till the meter read 35?! I think it’s safe to assume we were driving on rims up until that point, which explains the reason he was going 10 k/h around corners and even slower for any little bump. We made it safe though, and quick passed out after 17 hours of travel.
The next morning we were delightfully reminded that we were at a NORCECA as we were told there were no shuttles to the venue for training, and even if there were shuttles there would be no courts due to a Caribbean youth Olympic qualifier going on – I was fine with this though, training wasn’t high on my priority list as I was super sore from lifting at A4A the day before leaving for Trinidad.
After a few athletes raised concern over the lack of shuttles, the organizers arranged for not only shuttles, but also training opportunities the following day – - despite the bumps along the way, this would be a theme of the entire tournament. If ever the athletes were unhappy or looking for something different than what was offered the organizing committee and TTVF (Trinidad Tobago Volleyball Federation) did everything they could to please us, and I noticed this. Each day got better and better – - Once we got to the courts we snuck in some king of the court. I think every men’s team competing in the event was playing on one court, this made any missed serve, or any missed play at all feel substantially worse as another opportunity to play would take a sold few minutes. Again, standard at NORCECA though, so it was fine and we wound up getting a pretty solid session in regardless.
Oh! My favourite part of the entire trip, with exception of our semi and final matches, was the breakfast! I guess I’m easily pleased, or maybe it has something to do with the fact a north American style breakfast is so rare on the road but wow, I absolutely feasted my first two mornings. Bacon, eggs, hash browns, pancakes, and coffee… if nothing went right, I still would have been happy!
The next story is probably the funniest thing I’ve been apart of in recent memory, thanks to Will from USA. During our technical meeting there were 4 teams who needed to pull their seed number, Trinidad 3, USA 2, us (CAN 2), and another team that’s slipping my memory pulling for seeds 15 to 18. At the last minute a team was added to the bottom of the draw making one pool of 4, pool F (seed 18).
The organizing committee took 4 pieces of paper, wrote each seed on them, folded them up and put them in one of their hands for us to pick from. USA 2 (Will) pulled first and we both agreed the only seed we didn’t want was 18, due to the extra match we would have to play now. Well sure enough Will pulled 18 and we both laughed. Trinidad drew next, then I picked. But I wound up with seed 14, clearly they made a mistake and Will jumped up right away trying to demand a redraw of seeds due to their error. After a few moment he had convinced them to start over and they ripped 4 new pieces of paper and made us pull again going in the same order. Anyone want to guess what Will/USA2 chose with the first pick?? Yep, 18! I couldn’t contain myself almost falling over laughing so hard. The entire room was laughing, meanwhile Will was disgusted but took it in stride.
Trinidad3 drew next and pulled 17 but the organizers immediately noticed Trinidad1 was already in that pool so they took the number back and made Trinidad draw again, he did, then the organizer crumpled up 17 way smaller than the other piece of paper that was left and placed it back in his hand for me to choose. Full on knowing which seed I preferred (17) I laughed and said “I think I’ll take 17” as I looked the guy in the eyes while taking the tiny balled up piece of paper – it was even better as the organizer laughed with me during this entire process. That left the final team with the 16 seed and concluded the hysterical technical meeting.
In the morning our first game would see us matched up with the host country, Trinidad.
And boy would it prove to be a beauty!
…see next post for match recaps