July 2011 Archives
Check out some photos of camp and video of the final dances.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part eight, the final part below.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part eight, the final part below.
Hassan carried on with his story: "Larbi did not take well the way he was treated upon his return to Morocco. He was asked to coach the Moroccan National team at the Pan-Arabic games, but then was released shortly after leading the squad to a gold medal, without any explanation from the Fédération Royale Marocaine du Football (FRMF). The Fédération barely acknowledged his help at the time, then proceeded to completely erasing his existence from memory. Larbi had also written the FRMF multiple times, offering to help in the World Cup campaign and in the Cup of African Nations being hosted in Morocco in 1988; he never received any response. The actions of the FRMF and of other actors on the international football stage were quite despicable. It was as if the world of football had forgotten about him as quickly as they had coerced him into playing abroad and then traded him between clubs. Like a pawn in a game of chess, Larbi was tossed around between countries, used, taken advantage of, and then disposed of. It is no wonder why he lived the last ten years of his life in solitude and suffering.
"During these past ten years, Larbi stopped writing as frequently as he used to. From the tone of his letters, I could sense his growing desperation. The last time I heard from him was almost two years ago, in March of 1990. I kept writing to him on a regular basis, hoping it would make him feel a bit less alone. I am much too old to take the train now, as is my wife, so we had no way of visiting him. Here is the last letter I ever received from him."
By Sunday afternoon, Souad's fear had not dissipated. She had been living on edge for the past few days, reacting to every comment or gesture her parents made, as if expecting the worst. Had they found out about her clandestine activities on Friday afternoon? She was not handling the tension well, and her brothers had teased her about the anxious expression that had been permanently engraved on her face since Friday night, like a henna tattoo tracing the coiled lines of worry around her eyes.
As usual, that evening, she brought her father tea after the family meal. He was watching a Champions League game: the best of the best facing off to win the European title.
As she was about to leave, Souad's father gently touched her shoulder. She almost jumped, spilling the teapot, this time accidentally. Mustapha nodded his head in the direction of the empty seat to his left. Souad followed his eyes from the empty seat to the television and back to her baffled self.
"Souad, why don't we watch the game together tonight?"
She stared in wonder at the tenderness and complicity she could read in her father's gaze, slowly grasping the meaning of this invitation.
As the train left the Rabat station, I pulled the two letters Hassan had given me out of my backpack. The first was dated from 1938, when Ben Barek had initially arrived in France:
Marseille, France. June 29th, 1938
My Dear Hassan,
Here I am, finally, on the shores of France. The trip was long and I was stirring with excitement and apprehension for the entire journey. Alone, on the deck of the ship, I watched the Moroccan coastline become a small speck on the horizon. I hope I have made the right decision to leave my beloved country, but my ambition is too great to pass up this chance.
The coach, Jozsef Eisenhoffer, and the president, M. Blanc, of the Olympique de Marseille club were at the port to welcome me as I disembarked. I'm glad they were there to greet me, for I felt lost, disoriented, uneasy--the only black man in a grinding mass of white people. Men were carrying huge boxes off the boat, there were bags everywhere. Seagulls swarmed above our heads as people bumped into one another, mothers firmly gripping their babies in their arms. You could hear whistles and horns all around, voices yelling and shrieking in a language I barely understand. I clutched my suitcase frightfully.
Their shiny black car was waiting for me. They drove me around town, giving me a tour of the city. We walked down the Promenade de la Corniche, alongside the beach. I saw families having picnics on the sand. It seemed strange, surreal--only something white people do. The air here is crisp, but the waves are the same. The same salty ocean water, crashing against the shore. It reminds me of home.
Although everyone has made me feel at home so far, my loyalty will always be to Morocco, my home and motherland.
I hope this letter finds you well. Please send my regards to your mother.
Your best friend Larbi
The 2nd was the last letter Hassan received from Larbi, less than two years before his suicide:
Casablanca. March 16th 1990
The good news is bittersweet, as always. Last month I should have been awarded the order of merit by the African Confederation of Football in Algiers at the 32nd anniversary of the National Liberation Front team, yet the FRMF prevented me from accepting the award because I was not present at the ceremony, which of course they only informed me of after the fact. The Fédération has also completely excluded me from any involvement in Morocco's two successive World Cup campaigns. The first Afro-Arab man to play football internationally, left out from the attempt to bring Moroccan soccer to the world stage...It seems that it has been decided for me, without my accord, that I should no longer be allowed to be Moroccan. This thought pains me more than anything else in the world.
What have I ever done to deserve this treatment? It is excruciatingly unjust and saddens me deeply. Although I lived abroad for ten years, I returned to my beloved country on a regular basis, and have always been loyal to my people. My unswerving faithfulness to football and to Morocco has been reciprocated by a faithful repudiation of my role in the emergence of Afro-Arab football. All I want is to be able to return the favors and opportunities I was once given as a young athlete. I want to contribute to the development of Moroccan football and to the advancement of the country of Morocco in general, yet I feel helpless. My hope that things will change becomes dimmer every day.
I have never searched for fame or recognition; you know that as well as I do. But my identity as a Moroccan is something I cannot bear to lose. There is a lump in my throat that is growing and growing every minute, Hassan. And it will proceed to choke me entirely, you will see... Thank you for always listening. If there is one person in this world that understands, I know it is you.
As I watched the burnt, arid landscape fly past me, I imagined what Larbi Ben Barek had meant by the phrase "buried alive". This man had arrived in France with noble ambitions to bring honor to his country worldwide, like a child strives to make a mother proud. Only ten years later, he had returned to his country of origin, which had not only forgotten about him, but chosen to outright ignore his existence and everything he had done for Morocco. Helpless in the face of manipulative and condescending colonial powers, Ben Barek endured much abuse and suffering in his attempt to bring respect to his beloved country. By means of these struggles, he played an important, yet unrecognized, role in the fight for independence. A tragic destiny for such a noble hero.
As I was deep in thought, the conductor came down the aisle with his ticket-punching device. Thankfully I had remembered to validate mine before I boarded the train.
"Name and ticket please," he grumbled rudely, as if the ridiculous uniform and black cap he wore entitled him to disrespectful behavior.
"Mustapha Zehria," I said as I handed him my ticket.
Although the rest of the world already had, I would never forget about the fatality that befell such a brave and inspiring Moroccan.
Through the open door, you could catch a glimpse of the last few rays of sunlight reflect off the shiny leather, illuminating the child's beautiful face.
Souad Zehria could see her husband Tarik and her two-year-old son Larbi play outside, savoring the warm, golden aura of Moroccan sunsets. She had named her son Larbi at the request of her father, whom they all now lovingly called Pépé Mustapha.
She was strangely at ease. These moments filled her with a sensation of delight, of pure contentment, as she watched her two favorite people enjoy such a simple pleasure--kicking a ball around in the dirt. Souad chuckled as her son tripped over the ball, which was disproportionately big for his size. Unsure of his footing, Larbi had not yet fully mastered the agility of the football star he was named after.
On Monday, we posted summer updates from Austin Voth, Joe Meggs and Aaron West. Since that, we got another missive from Husky catcher B.K. Santy. Here's what he had to say:
B.K. SANTY, Anchorage Bucs
What's up guys? BK Santy here reporting from Anchorage Alaska, with the Anchorage Bucs. We are nearing the final stretch and are only two games back from the leading Kenai Oilers. Although we are losing guys and a lot of guys are banged up after a long season and a long summer, we are playing loose and keeping the game fun no matter the circumstances because after all, it's a fun game. We have some games remaining with the Oilers so those games will be crucial. This has been an experience that I'll will never forget, and I encourage anybody to play out here because of the good competition and phenomenal atmosphere.
In terms of living I'm now living all alone. Peanut Afenir left a couple weeks ago due to a minor injury. Now my time away from the field is seldom at my host house. I lift with guys from Dallas Baptist and Rice ... Texans know how to lift, trust me. As time has gone on I've actually grown very fond of the majority of our players.
Being one of the older guys on the team from a Pac-12 school, I find a lot of the younger guys look up to me in terms of how to act on and off the ball field. I'm expecting to have that role next year at UW and can't wait to start with a new bunch of talented studs. I'll enjoy the remainder of the summer but I am STOKED about a new year at UW. Go Dawgs and adios from the AK!
I made it back from the Canadian Prairies, where the heat and humidity were unreal. Sadly, the igloos did not make it. On the bright side, the mosquitoes certainly did. Such trip highlights included a sign in the indoor pool area of my grandmother's assisted living facility that was more detailed than your typical hotel pool rules. I wanted to include the picture of my grandmother leading my mom and aunt in an aquasize routine, but doing so would inevitably lead to me being unwelcome in their homes for all eternity.
Other highlights (though it's hard to beat the aquasize):
Visiting with my cousin's family after they stopped by on their move to Ottawa (Canada's capital - no, it's not Toronto).
And riding on my dad's boat to Fisherman's Wharf in Steveston, BC to get dinner (little sister pictured below).
I also couldn't resist purchasing some Dario's, the CFL's Saskatchewan Roughriders' quarterback's cereal. After sampling the cereal, its intriguing taste may explain the team and quarterback's downfall in the early part of the season, if, in fact, he is consuming his own cereal for breakfast.
Now onto the all-powerful yogurt, as it is loaded with protein, calcium, and magnesium. The reports that it improves digestion are linked to the active bacteria cultures it contains. While consuming yogurt has been linked to weight loss, store-bought flavored yogurt is often loaded with sugar. Thus, you get the health benefits, but at somewhat of a high cost. You can avoid this by buying plain yogurt or making your own. Homemade yogurt is much cheaper, tastier and also environmentally friendly as you're not buying all of those containers. (Yogurt containers are usually recyclable - if they have either a "2" or "5" on the bottom.)
The taste and texture of your homemade yogurt will depend on the starter yogurt/culture (introduces the good bacteria into the milk) and the milk that you use in addition to how long you heat the milk and ferment the yogurt for, so this is where your need to experiment comes in. I prefer Safeway's Lucerne plain fat-free yogurt as my starter as it has a good texture and isn't tangy like many other plain fat-free yogurts. If you buy a large container, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray, and place the cubes in a Ziploc bag to use as starter cultures for future batches.
Making yogurt requires keeping the concoction at about 110 deg for 6-10 hours so that the fermentation can take place as bacteria cultures reproduce most optimally at this temperature. This can be done with a yogurt maker (purchased at most kitchen stores or online for $20-30), in an oven if it goes low enough, or with a heating pad contraption (look up Alton Brown Yogurt recipe from the Food Network). If you're committed to your homemade yogurt, buying a yogurt maker is a worthwhile investment. Homemade yogurt can also be flavored (search for recipes online), although I prefer to add blueberries and walnuts to the plain yogurt rather than flavoring the yogurt itself.
Thermometer and yogurt maker/heating pad contraption required.
Slowly heat the milk in a pot on the stove over medium heat, stirring frequently as it will scorch. Once the milk reaches 185-200 deg F (will start to froth), pour into a bowl and let cool to 100-110 deg F (can place the bowl in an ice water bath to speed up this process, stirring often). To create a thicker yogurt, keep the milk at 185 deg for 30 minutes before cooling.
In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of the heated milk with the starter culture/yogurt.
Add mixture to bowl with heated milk and mix well. Whisk in milk powder if using. Divide into yogurt maker containers and ferment for 6-10 hours (8 works for me).
During this time, the bacteria will be eating the sugar in the milk (lactose), causing it to thicken. The tangy taste of yogurt is also produced in this process, resulting from the lactic acid that is created as the lactose is eaten. When finished, put the lids on the containers and place immediately into the fridge to cool. You can use the homemade yogurt 2-3 times as the starter yogurt for the next batch. Using it more than this will yield a poorer texture.
The yogurt can also be strained using cheesecloth to remove the whey. It will then have thicker consistency and can be used in place of cream cheese in dips or spreads.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part seven below. Part eight, the final part, will be posted on July 29.
Hassan Mdaghri acquiesced as I handed him the folded piece of paper, as if forgiving me for the initial dishonesty I had employed. He slowly opened the piece of paper, which was by now a little crumpled at the edges, and started reading. I remained silent, allowing the old man the time to digest this difficult material. Once he was done reading, Hassan looked up at me. I could read both sadness and gratefulness in his eyes.
"Thank you for delivering this to me personally. You have no idea how much it means to me that you found me. I had not heard from Larbi in over two years, and when I heard about his death, I was devastated. Having this note makes the news a bit more bearable." The old man looked like wanted to keep talking, so I did not interrupt him. From the way he spoke, I could guess that he had not talked about Larbi Ben Barek with anyone. He began his narrative from the very beginning:
"Before he left for France, Larbi had promised to write on a regular basis. I was happy for him. We were all happy for him. We knew he would go far, and this was his chance. The Football Club du Ouatane was where it all started, in the dirty, dusty streets of our childhood. Even then, Larbi was unstoppable. We all wanted him on our team, but he pretended like he was just as good as everyone else. Always humble, he never showed off his talent, and even refused to wear cleats in his first club game, saying he preferred his old, tattered sandals. At first, Larbi was good about keeping in touch. He sent news regularly, updating me about his most recent accomplishments."
Hassan slowly got up from the stool and reached for a brown envelope on a shelf behind him, similar to the one I had found in Monsieur Larbi's apartment. No doubt these two men had been close friends for a long time, they even had the same taste in stationary supplies. As he sat back down, he handed me a few letters, and continued:
"I reported back to his mother, reading her the letters he sent. Larbi's father had died in an accident when he was only five years old, and his two older sisters had both married and moved away. His mother lived all alone, but she was a brave and strong woman, showing no signs of aging. However, she did not know how to read or write, so I would write the replies she patiently composed out loud, word by word, leaving me the time to remember the correct verb conjugations. He had a very successful football career in Europe, as I'm sure you've discovered. Yet he returned to Morocco frequently to visit his mother and beloved country. I have never met a man who loved his country more than Larbi did, which makes his story even more tragic."
Souad's father heard a loud knock at the door. He thought it was a bit odd that someone would visit on a Saturday evening after dinner, but still got up to answer. You never knew what news you would receive on a Saturday night! His wife and children were out; they had been invited to a party at his wife's uncle's house, or something like that--he couldn't really remember the connection. Mustapha had stayed in, exhausted from six days of work. Mostly, he didn't want to miss the football game that was on television, but he had failed to mention this to his wife, who would have disapproved of the excuse: his beloved Fath of Rabat was playing its rival, Widad of Casablanca.
"Hello, Mr. Zehria. My name is Ahmed. I am the football coach at the Lycée Al Allama Sbihi. I apologize for stopping by at this hour, but I'd like to discuss something with you, if that's alright?"
"Hello, welcome, Ahmed!" Souad's father happily invited him in, thinking it would be about one of his sons. "Please, feel free to call me Mustapha."
They settled around the kitchen table. "So, what brings you here tonight?"
"Actually, Mr. Zehria, I would like to talk to you about your daughter, Souad. She is gifted in football. I saw her play on Friday afternoon, where she scored the winning goal for the high school team."
Mustapha felt his face drop, his composure splintering into a million little pieces, reminding him of the time he had been severely punished by his mother for shattering an antique glass teacup as a young child. You could hear the obnoxious voices of the commentators in the background. Apparently, Ahmed wrongly mistook his silence as a cue to continue. Already, Mustapha was only half-listening.
"I understand that this may be difficult to hear," Ahmed went on, "but your daughter is truly talented. I would like to give her the opportunity to play for a real football team. I coach for the Association Cité Des Arts. We are funded by the city and play in a women's league across Morocco."
"During the war, Larbi returned to Casablanca and got married. However, after the war ended he was signed by another football club in France, the Racing de Paris. He was forced to leave his wife and two children behind in Morocco and rarely was allowed the opportunity to visit them. When Larbi's wife was taken by tuberculosis, his mother was left to take care of the two children, who were still young at the time. What happened to them is unknown. They may have been kidnapped on their way home from school when they were only eight and ten years old, by a band of rebel soldiers. They have not been heard of since.
"Larbi was absolutely devastated, but remained loyal to Morocco, even after it had taken both his wife and his only children away from him. He met his second wife Louisette in Paris, but they did not have any children. Only a few years after their marriage, she was taken by pneumonia and did not survive the harsh winter of 1954. Despite a life plagued by personal tragedies, Larbi was always kind, gentle, and tolerant of others. He never let the personal events in his life affect his athletic performances, which was quite admirable, considering the circumstances. But that was the kind of man he was...
"Although his professional life appeared to be a very successful one, Larbi did not see it that way. While he tried to conceal it, I knew he was hurt by the name the Spanish Press had given him: 'The Foot of God.' On the surface, this nickname appeared like a compliment of his superb goal-scoring abilities, yet it was also an insult in disguise. In Islamic culture, the foot is the lowest part of the body, the part that touches the ground. The nickname was a low blow for Larbi, as it denigrated the culture and religion he felt so strongly about. It also revealed the disdain the Spanish had for the Arab world, and, in consequence, for his presence as an Afro-Arab football player in Madrid. He suffered much abuse, both verbal and perhaps even physical, during his years playing at Atletico de Madrid."
Mr. Zehria decided to let Ahmed finish, out of courtesy. The man surely had good intentions, but like many others in contemporary society, had long forgotten about the values of tradition. That was not the case in the Zehria household.
"The challenge these women face today is similar to the one Larbi Ben Barek braved more than fifty years ago. Like him, they are using football to defy the injustices that stifle their potential for success and their struggle for recognition and identity. They inspire women across the world to fight for their rights. I think it would be a noble act to allow your daughter to play."
All of a sudden, Mustapha started listening more closely. Ben Barek had always been his idol ever since he was a teenage boy. Was this coach really comparing the actions of his only daughter to the feats of his all-time hero Larbi Ben Barek?
Mustapha tried concealing his pride, but he was glowing. Somehow, Ahmed had found his weakness. The expression on Mustapha's face must have revealed this change of heart, because Ahmed continued, ever more intently.
"From what I understand, your eldest son Mehdi is also exceptionally gifted in football. I would like to make you an offer. If you allow Souad to play for my team, I will arrange for Mehdi to receive a scholarship to attend university and play football in Marseille. I played there myself for several years and have connections."
Mustapha raised his eyebrows suspiciously; he had heard that one many times before. Every Moroccan, even in the remotest of villages, claimed he had connections. Yet the look on his interlocutor's face seemed sincere enough, and Mustapha was willing to take a chance.
"I'll let you sit on it for a few days, alright?"
Mustapha nodded, unsure how to respond. The right words weren't coming to him.
"Our next practice is on Tuesday at the Stade Chhoude, 3 o'clock. If Souad doesn't come, I will understand. But I hope you make the decision that is best for your children. Times are changing, Mr. Zehria.
"Thank you for your time. I hope to see Souad soon."
As they shook hands, Ahmed stared at him daringly. Mustapha thought this to be quite unnecessary; the decision had already been made.
Throughout the summer, we've been hearing from Huskies playing summer baseball across the country. Here's the lastest from Aaron West, Joe Meggs and Austin Voth.
AARON WEST, Humboldt Crabs
Hello Husky Nation! Ending the second to last weekend of league play we took two out of three from the Nevada Bullets. These wins improved our conference record to 19-5 and are overall record to 32-11. We end our league play with a three-game series against the Redding Colt 45's next weekend. The league tournament will begin the following week.
The weather is still around the 60-degree mark with the occasional rain and wind. We have also had some great days as well making this experience a very good one down here in California. I am looking forward to taking home the championship here for the Humboldt Crabs. We have some great coaches and good players on this team.
I have had a good summer so far. My coaches told me yesterday I was 5-0 with a 0.24 ERA and 66 K's in 39 IP! I had no clue! Glad I have been able to come down here and pitch and have some success. I am looking to continue on with this success up in Seattle very soon for the Huskies! Go Dawgs...
JOE MEGGS, Terre Haute Rex
My team is currently right in the middle of the playoff hunt. We have 10 games left and we are sitting a half game up in first place for the second half. It's been nice to play in meaningful games all summer because I think that helps me get prepared for the next season at school. I'm sure the playoff spot won't be clinched until one of the last days of the season, so we have a lot to look forward to.
The weather here in the Midwest has been a little different than in Seattle. The heat index hovered around 115 for games last week, and game time temperature is routinely around a pleasant 95 degrees. It makes for a challenge but it is all part of the experience.
The summer season has gone by fast but at the same time I'm excited for fall ball to start again. Our program has a lot to look forward to and we are going to surprise a lot of people come spring time. Talk to you soon
AUSTIN VOTH, Brewster Whitecaps
Life in the Cape Cod has been great. My team is in first place in our division, the weather out here has been great and I just found out I made the All-Star team. It's a great opportunity to play against the top 40 players in the Cape. Next Thursday is when the All-Star Game will be played at Fenway. I have never been to or played at Fenway Park before, so this will be an exciting day for me.
There are five other players on my team that have been selected to go to the All-Star Game as well. My uncle came up for a couple days this last week and it was really nice to see him.
The Brewster Whitecaps are still in first place and will hopefully stay that way going into the playoffs. Our team is very talented and I believe we have a good chance to go all the way. I talked to my pitching coach the other day and he said there will be a chance that I will be starting some games in the playoffs because of how well I have been throwing.
This whole summer I've been throwing out of the pen and had a lot of success. As summer ball comes to an end, I know that we will make a good run at winning the championship this year.
Check out some pictures from women's soccer camp this week and the photo gallery below.
The UW softball team hosted a camp earlier this week. Check out some pictures below from the first day and the photo gallery.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part six below.
It was only nine in the morning but the sun was beating heavily through the glass panes of the train windows, heating the cracked, synthetic leather seats to extreme proportions. Other passengers had already filled the available seats in the shade, so I had no choice but to scorch the back of my bare thighs as I sat down.
Soon after, the train started moving. As we left the station, I saw passengers with large, cumbersome bags maneuver their way towards the exit. Businessmen in black suits clutched their briefcases as they rushed along the platform, some trying to catch the departing train, some hurrying to an important meeting.
I looked at the ticket I held in my hand. On the top right corner was written Casablanca-Rabat Round Trip: 40.50 dirhams. The night before, I had regretfully broken the piggy bank my grandmother had given me as a young boy. I had an intuition that Hassan would be the missing link to understanding why Monsieur Larbi had killed himself, and I was willing to spend all of my savings to travel to Rabat in order to find him.
Tarik could feel his insides caving in as he prepared his response.
"Her name is Souad Zehria." The words slipped out of Tarik's mouth quickly, like couscous grains spilling out of a torn bag. He was immediately disappointed with himself at how fast he had given in to his coach's request. Souad would surely be upset with him!
He vividly pictured the time when he had accidentally torn one of the newspaper clippings she preciously collected. She had passed it to him on the bus and he had pulled a little too hard, causing the picture to rip down the middle. How furious she was! She had not spoken to him for two days, but the look in her piercing, dark eyes had made Tarik feel guilty for weeks.
The expression on Ahmed's face made Tarik understand that he expected more details.
"She lives nearby, 63 Rue de Salé, apartment 6D."
"Thanks, Tarik." Coach Ahmed released his grip and gave him a firm pat on the back. "Great assist, by the way... See you at practice on Monday!"
"Bye Coach," Tarik muttered under his breath. An intense wave of emotion overcame him, as he registered the conversation that had just occurred. He had to steady himself before he went back into the house. Not only did he feel like he had betrayed the trust of his best friend, but he was even more apprehensive about what Ahmed would do with the information he had just given him. Would he go to Souad's house? Would he talk to her parents and reveal her deepest and darkest secret? And would Souad still want to be his friend after she found out he had let her down?
I stared at the city map covered in scratches and markings that belligerent youth had probably inflicted upon the public property; I myself had done my share of vandalism. I now realized how inconvenient it was when inscriptions carved into the cheap plastic by knives or rocks covered the specific street name one was looking for. I made a mental note to myself to avoid this type of activity in the future.
After walking around for almost an hour and asking several people on the street for directions, I finally managed to find Hassan Mdaghri's home: 23, Rue Souika, in the heart of Rabat's medina. My backpack containing the address book and letters I had found the apartment clung to my sweaty shoulders. I rested a few minutes in the shade of a small alleyway, allowing myself to cool off after walking around in the heat. I wiped the sweat off my forehead with a piece of cloth I found in the bottom of my bag, and sat down to eat a few of the delicious snacks my mother had given me. How glad I was to have saved them! Finally, I was ready.
I knocked on the door firmly. An old man answered and gestured me in quickly, eager to keep the oppressive autumn heat out of the small house. I followed Hassan Mdaghri as he slowly made his way to a table surrounded by two wooden stools, in a room that seemed to serve as both living room and dining room. He took small, wobbly steps that revealed his old age. An older woman, probably the one I had spoken to on the phone a week before, silently brought in a pot of mint tea and a plate of oranges. As Hassan started to unpeel one of the fruits before my eyes, I was reminded of the deception I had used to infiltrate this innocent old man's personal life, and felt the need to reveal to him my true identity immediately.
"Mr. Mdaghri, before we begin I have something I must share with you. I am not actually Mohammed El Hachmi, from the Gazette de Casablanca. My name is Mustapha; I lived across the hall from Larbi Ben Barek. I was the one who discovered him dead in his apartment and called the police." Before the words had the time to sink in, I handed him the letter across the table. "Here, you should have this. It belongs to you."
Ahmed was pleased with how easily he had managed to find the mysterious girl. But that was the simple part. His next task--convincing Souad's parents to let her play for his girls' team--would be much more challenging. Ahmed also coached for the Association Cité Des Arts, the only female football club in the Rabat area.
Ahmed had signed a contract with the A.C.D.A club for two years. The conditions were simple: start a female football team and have a winning record by the end of the two years, or the already meager funding would end and the program would fall apart as abruptly as it had been created. Ahmed only had six months left to safeguard the future of women's football in Rabat, and he desperately needed Souad to help the team improve its standing. Female players were scarce, because the many social and religious constraints repressed their desire to play. Those who were talented did not even know it.
The A.C.D.A team played against women's football clubs from Marrakesh, Tangiers, Fès, and other big cities in Morocco, but these teams had been in place for longer and the A.C.D.A.'s debut had not seemed promising. Yet Ahmed was prepared to go at great lengths to protect the future of the program; he understood that football represented a way to trespass the barriers imposed on women, regardless of their age, religion, or socioeconomic background.
That night, he carefully weighed his arguments against one another, rehearsing the speech he would give to Souad's father. Ahmed was certain that the girl's parents would not approve of her playing. They probably weren't even aware she played football. He would have to be forceful, yet respectful of the family's traditions. That was always the issue when coaching girls.
Ahmed had gone around Souad's neighborhood, asking the boys he ran into about her brothers, with the hope of discovering more about her family before he went to talk to them. He had even watched her brothers play a pickup football game, from the well-hidden vantage point of a shady, low archway, and discovered that Souad's older brother Mehdi was also gifted. With only a little bit of prodding, and perhaps spying--but Ahmed preferred not calling it that--he had exposed an infallible way to persuade Souad's father. Ahmed was confident he had the upper hand in the situation: he would offer Souad's father a deal he would not be able to refuse.
Future Husky Kylee Lahners homered yesterday as her team came from behind to win the Under Armour All-American game. Former Husky Jenn Salling was one of the coaches.
Read the recap below.
Fans who spilled out of the stands at the ESPN Wide World of Sports were treated to some bonus softball at the 2011 Under Armour All-America Game on Tuesday. After all, what else would you expect from teams comprised of the nation's best?
Sara Driesenga was named MVP after lacing a bases-loaded, walk-off double off the left field fence to cap a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 6-5 win for Team Swagger.
"[The MVP] could have gone to anybody because this was truly a team effort," said Driesenga, who also pitched the final two innings to earn the win. "It's just an honor to be here with the 30 best players in the nation."
Although cliche, there was some truth to the "total team effort" statement on this day. Down 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Team Swagger standouts Lauren Chamberlain and Kylee Lahners blasted back-to-back home runs that swung momentum.
"I came up to the plate thinking, 'Wow, the only way to follow [Chamberlain's home run] is to just hit another one,'" Lahners said. "So I went up there and waited for my pitch, got my pitch and put a good swing on it."
Ally Carda, the pitcher for Team Hype who surrendered the two home runs, swung it back to her team's favor by taking two bases after an attempted pick-off throw went awry. She scored from third on an RBI single by Delaney Guy.
Team Hype took its 3-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh, when Kelsi Jones played the role of savior with a one-out single that scored Lahners to tie the game.
After Danielle Henderson was hit in the ankle by a pitch, Team Swagger suddenly had a golden opportunity to win the game in regulation with the bases loaded and only one out. But Corrin Genovese flashed some leather at second for Team Hype, snaring the potentially game-winning line drive and doubling off the runner at first base for an unassisted inning-ending double play.
Playing by international tie-breaking rules (each extra inning starts with a runner on second base), the game progressed to the ninth inning, where scoring suddenly became en vogue.
Team Hype opened the inning with two runs in the top half, highlighted by a two-out RBI single by Jessica Damico, who went 2-for-4 on the day. Damico and Swagger's Janie Takeda, who went 2-for-3, were the only players with multiple hits.
Facing a two-run deficit for the second time in the game, Team Swagger responded in the bottom of the ninth.
After a hit by Takeda and a walk by Jones, A.J. Andrews reached on an error to load the bases with only one out. Down 5-4, Driesenga ended the game with her drive to left. Jones, who hit the game-tying RBI single to force extra innings, scored the winning run.
"After we fell behind, you still saw smiles on the girls faces, and that's the key" said Leah O'Brien Amico, coach of Team Swagger. "A lot of times, if you're wearing that negative emotion it will pull you down. It's fun to be on the winning side. You play this game to have fun but obviously we're all competitors and it's always nice to get that W."
The game airs at 7 p.m. ET Saturday on ESPNU.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part five below.
"Hello?" said an older woman's voice at the end of the line.
"Yes...Hello. Is this Mrs. Mdaghri?" Was this Hassan's wife? Or did I have the wrong number? All the confidence I had mustered up before calling suddenly disappeared into thin air, leaving me nervous and starting to regret the entire undertaking. The pay phone was shaking slightly in my hand, and I could feel the plastic digging into my ear uncomfortably. The traffic in the street made it difficult to hear her little voice.
"Yes, may I as who is calling please?"
I cleared my throat and deepened my tone, praying that my higher-pitched, teenage voice wouldn't give me away immediately. "Hi, my name is Mohammed El Hachmi, from the Gazette de Casablanca. I am reporting on the death of Larbi Ben Barek, and I'd love to have the chance to speak with your husband. I understand they were quite close. Would there be a good time for me to talk to him?" The speech I had rehearsed a million times before the call came out easily, helping me regain enough self-assurance to not hang up the phone immediately.
There was no way anyone would take a sixteen-year old boy seriously, so I had to come up with an identity that would give me sufficient credibility to get in contact with Hassan. Then, I would tell him the truth about how I had found him, and personally deliver Monsieur Larbi's last letter. I set up a time to meet with Mr. Hassan Mdaghri the following week. I would have to take the train to Rabat from the Casablanca Port Station, and of course, skip school that day.
Right before the start of the match, the coach of the Lycée Français team had walked over to shake Ahmed's hand, with a condescending smirk that made Ahmed boil with rage. The play field was the one place where Ahmed refused to concede anything to the French. He always coached his boys to play fair, because he believed playing dirty didn't get you anywhere, in football, or in life. Despite Murad's absence, he knew his team would put up a great fight, no matter the outcome of the game.
The referee blew the whistle, and the boys started moving the ball around on the dirt surface. A few of his players had old, ripped cleats, but most were wearing tennis shoes or even sandals. The French boys, on the other hand, all had shiny, brand new boots. The two teams were fairly even. While the Lycée boys could string together more passes, they did not have as much raw, individual talent, developed from years of playing pickup games in the streets. The white boys played "pretty" soccer, as Ahmed commonly joked with his team, who was much tougher. They always left practice with cuts on their knees and new bruises on their shins: shinguards were an expensive piece of equipment that belonged to the school and were used for games only.
As the match wore on, the score was still 0-0. Both teams had missed multiple opportunities to finish. The time on the clock showed that there were only four minutes left to play. There was something about ties that Ahmed hated, but he had never been able to put a finger on it. Someone had to score... if only Murad had been there!
Karim had been playing very well and Ahmed was impressed with his natural talent. Ahmed would make sure to recruit Karim for the team when he entered high school next year. The brothers had the same style of play--excellent foot skills and fast-paced passes. It must run in the family, he thought to himself.
All of a sudden, Tarik was dribbling down the left side at full speed. Scissor right, cut left, and he had flown by the defender. Before the center back could reach him, Tarik curled a beautiful ball into the penalty box. Usually, there weren't any players in the box to finish his crosses, but Karim had gotten there in time! As the ball curved away from the goalie's hands, Karim jumped above all the defenders and headed it into the back of the net. GOAAAL!
While the ball was hitting the back of the net, Karim's cap was flying in midair, revealing a ponytail of curly brown hair bobbing up and down as the girl landed. Ahmed gasped, while the crowd was exuberantly cheering for the goal that would give the local boys the win, their attention fixed on the celebration. Before the fans had the time to notice what had happened, she was already gone, sprinting down the street.
Ahmed yelled at her to wait, but she ignored him. Following her was out of the question; he knew quite well he could not be seen chasing a young girl down the street.
"Attends!" He tried again, hoping the French would convey a stronger sense of authority, but to no avail. She had already been enveloped by clouds of dust in the distance, yet Ahmed was determined to find her.
That morning, I woke up earlier than usual. I ate breakfast with my father, like I did every morning before school. While I was eating, my mother handed me a few snacks to put in my backpack: a small bag containing dried apricots and dates, fresh figs, and almonds. The treats looked delicious; I would have to restrain myself from devouring them immediately. I knew I had a long day ahead of me and would want to save these provisions for later in the day. On my way out of the house, I yelled, "Mom, I might be a little late from school today, because I agreed to help Mr. Laumaillé reorganize the library shelves!" It seemed like a good idea to give myself a small margin of error in case the train was late on my way home.
After everyone had left the field, Ahmed headed straight to Tarik's home. He knew the boy's family quite well because he had coached their son since middle school.
Tarik's father opened the door, unlatching the flavors of fish braised in sweet apricots and dates. The fruity sensations were smoothly intertwined with the fiery aromas of cinnamon, paprika, and cayenne, making Ahmed's nose tickle with desire. He wondered if Tarik's family was having a celebratory dinner after the victory.
"Good evening, Yassine!"
"Welcome, Coach Ahmed! Great work tonight! Tarik came home thrilled about the win."
"Thank you," Ahmed responded. "The... ahem...boys...played very hard." He accidentally stumbled on the word. "They deserved it. Could I please have a quick word with Tarik? I'd like to congratulate him on the way he played."
"Of course, let me get him."
Tarik appeared at the door a few seconds later, as if expecting Ahmed's visit. Ahmed immediately detected the uneasiness in Tarik's strained countenance. They stepped outside of the steamy kitchen onto the sidewalk, into the privacy of the calm, evening breeze.
The streets were almost empty, but not quite. You could see a few children lingering aimlessly in the distance, kicking small rocks down the dusty street with their bare feet. Ahmed knew, sadly, that those who were out at this time of day had nowhere to be, nobody waiting for them with a warm, home-cooked meal. Ahmed wished he had the ability to help these children whom he knew would be sleeping outside, huddled behind a dumpster in the chilly nighttime air. If only the government did a better job to help its homeless youth!
"Tarik, I need to know who your friend was. She played marvelously, and I would like to offer her a position on my girls A.C.D.A. team." Ahmed firmly gripped Tarik's shoulder as he said this. He knew the boy would be easily convinced; he was too shy to argue.
The men's soccer team hosted one of it's summer camps last week. Check out the photogallery and some pictures below.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part four below.
I walked up the stairs slowly, on the tip of my toes, hoping my mother wouldn't hear that I had gotten back from school. My father was still at work.
As I reached the landing, I held my breath. I was only a few feet away from our apartment door, and I knew the walls were thin. If my parents found out that I had been snooping around in someone else's business, I would get in serious trouble.
As expected, the door was unlocked. No one had even bothered locking the door after the formal investigation. I slipped in quietly, with ease, as I had done a million times before. The police had barely searched the place because everything seemed to be in the same place as before. Only the box of pills was missing from the coffee table by the couch.
I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking for, but I knew I only had a few minutes before I was expected home from school. I headed to the desk facing the wall in the back corner of the apartment. I had seen Monsieur Larbi sitting there many times when I came to bring him food.
I sat down in the chair and ran my fingers across the desk's smooth, wooden surface. I stared at the uneven layers of faded yellow peeling off the wall in front of me, a consequence of the blistering heat that made walls crack and shed coats of paint like snakes stripped of their skin.
There were two small shelves leaning against the wall. One of them contained blank sheets of paper; the other held a neat pile of envelopes. The fountain pen lying on the desk looked obsolete, but it was the only writing instrument I saw. A small bottle of black china ink was still uncapped underneath the shelving, confirming my suspicions.
I picked up the pen and dipped it in the dried-out bottle of ink. I tried imagining what Monsieur Larbi had felt as he composed his farewell letter, knowing it would be the very last time he wrote anything down, surrendering to the tragic fate God had in store for him...
Deep in thought, I almost forgot about the reason for which I had trespassed into his apartment. I scanned the room for clues, but nothing caught my eye. As I got up from the desk, I noticed very thin drawer below the surface of the table, which I had failed to see initially. My heart started to beat rapidly, in anticipation of the findings this secret drawer would unearth.
I pulled out a tightly bound leather notebook, and a large folder, the kind schoolteachers use to carry around students' exams. With the tips of my fingers I felt plastic tabs on the inside of the notebook. I opened it to confirm that I had indeed found Ben Barek's address book. What luck! The folder contained a stack of letters from none other than Hassan. I would surely be able to locate him now that I had all of this information! Content with my findings, I stuck the address book and the folder into my school bag, and left the apartment as silently as I had come in.
The more he thought about it, the more Tarik was thrilled with his idea. It would take some planning, but he was confident it would work. Souad always played with a cap to hide her hair when they were out in the evenings together, in case someone saw them. Many of the boys on the team also played with caps; she would fit right in. Thankfully, tonight was one of the nights Souad was coming over to "study." As Tarik stared out of the dirty windows of the bus, he could clearly picture her face, lighting up with a huge smile, when he shared the news with her. The prospect kept him so entranced that he almost missed his stop.
That evening, as always, Tarik and Souad went out to their secret lot to kick the ball around. He brought the uniform in his backpack, waiting until they had arrived to surprise her.
"Are you sure this will work Tarik?" Souad seemed anxious--not the reaction he had expected from her.
"Of course! You're as tall as my younger brother Karim, and he's still pretty skinny, like you." They both laughed when he said this.
This seemed to reassure Souad, and they resumed their play. That evening they were working on curving the ball in the air. Tarik was especially good at it because he played left wing in the high school games, and often crossed the ball into the box for the forwards to score with a header or a volley.
On their way home, Tarik went over the final details: "Meet at the field behind the school at three o'clock. You'll probably be playing forward. And make sure you respond to Karim!"
As they parted, Souad grabbed his hand and gave it a tight squeeze.
"Thank you, Tarik."
The smile he had been waiting for all evening illuminated her face in the darkness.
Pretending to do my homework, I pulled out the address book and started flipping through the pages. It was organized alphabetically by last name, so I had to go through every individual page in order to find anyone by the name of Hassan.
In fact, there were three individuals named Hassan in the address book. I hadn't thought about that beforehand, but Hassan was a common name in Morocco and it was more than likely to occur several times in anyone's address book. One of the entries was crossed out, indicating that the man had passed away. That made matters a little simpler. With only two people to choose from, I had higher odds of tracking down the correct one.
The first entry, Hassan Choukri, indicated a phone number from Casablanca. Although that would have been convenient, I highly doubted that the Hassan in question lived in Casablanca because he would have paid his friend a visit instead of writing to him.
The second entry was a so-called Hassan Mdaghri, living in Rabat. I opened up the folder and looked for the most recent letter. At the top I read "August 4th 1992, Rabat". I knew I was on the right track. I scribbled down the man's telephone number and address in my notebook and tried focusing on my math homework, but my mind was elsewhere.
Souad still had a big problem to solve. How would she explain her absence to her mother on Friday afternoon? She imagined scenario after scenario, but none of them sounded right. Plus, she hated lying to her mother. It was already hard enough pretending to do schoolwork once a month with Tarik, but at least that story was partially true. She would have to come up with a bigger lie this time, and conceal her true identity from everybody. These thoughts made her so nervous she could feel a huge pit in her stomach growing by the second.
As she was getting ready to go to bed, she heard her mother yelling from the kitchen:
"Souad, Don't forget! Your cousin Malika has invited you to her house on Friday afternoon to drink tea and eat pastillas to celebrate her birthday."
What luck! Her mother had magically solved the problem for her. Malika and Souad didn't get along that well; Malika would not even notice her absence from the big birthday celebration. Maybe God was on her side, after all. Maybe he did want her to play football, just this once? She quickly shoved these thoughts aside as she slipped into bed. It was never a good idea to get God involved in something like this.
She waited patiently until her brothers were sound asleep to get the uniform out from its hiding place under the bed. She admired the red and white stripes that reflected the beams of moonlight shining through the cracks in the wall, turning the jersey over in her hands several times, as if to make sure it were real. That night, she dreamt she was dribbling at speed, breaking away from the defenders, skillfully finding the back of the net, the ball escaping the diving goalkeeper's hands.
NEW YORK -- It's taken half a season, but they're finally here.
Few would have thought it would take this long for Seattle Sounders star forward Fredy Montero and Colorado Rapids striker Conor Casey to earn their first MLSsoccer.com Team of the Week mentions this year. The other debutants on the best XI squad are Chicago Fire winger Patrick Nyarko and Real Salt Lake fullback Tony Beltran.
On the other end of the spectrum, Nick LaBrocca of Chivas USA, Sporting Kansas City's C.J. Sapong and New York Red Bulls midfielder Joel Lindpere reappear for consecutive weeks as they continue their solid run of form. Only the Red Bulls and Chivas USA had multiple players represented in this week's selections with 10 teams represented, including D.C. United through manager Ben Olsen.
GK: Dan Kennedy (Chivas USA) - Although his team gave up a last-minute equalizer to Sporting KC, he was solid throughout the game, making tough saves look routine.
DF: Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls) - Nearly had the perfect match against D.C. United, intercepting several dangerous balls and serving exquisite passes from the back.
DF: George John (FC Dallas) - He's No. 2 in the Castrol rankings for a reason. Despite the final result at RSL, he was one of the best performers on the night.
DF: Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake) - The right back was up against the toughest wingers in the league vs. FC Dallas, but was never outmatched and also contributed again in attack.
MF: Joel Lindpere (New York Red Bulls) - The engine that fueled his team in a 5-0 midweek win over TFC was also the brightest spot in a 1-0 defeat to D.C. United on the weekend.
MF: Nick LaBrocca (Chivas USA) - His magic moment continues goals in midweek and on the weekend. Aside from the goals, he is a menace every time he touches the ball.
MF: Patrick Nyarko (Chicago Fire) - Despite the rough tackle suffered toward the end of the game, the Ghanaian enjoyed a spectacular and effective performance on the wing and assisting on the equalizer.
MF: David Beckham (LA Galaxy) - His set pieces continue to be decisive for LA and he rescued them again on Saturday night, including scoring directly from a corner kick.
FW: Fredy Montero (Seattle Sounders) - Fredy's back. In addition to his two goals on Sunday, he showed a drive and energy that even his teammates took notice of.
FW: Conor Casey (Colorado Rapids) - Ruthless finishing skills were on display in two games. According to Opta, he's scoring on one of every three chances presented to him.
FW: C.J. Sapong (Sporting Kansas City) - The Rookie of the Year candidate turned the midweek match around vs. Colorado as a sub and was a force against Chivas USA as a starter. On a team with Teal Bunbury and Omar Bravo, he's Sporting's most impactful striker.
Manager: Ben Olsen (D.C. United) - It's not easy to keep the Red Bulls off the scoreboard, especially on the road. Credit to DC's boss for addressing his young team's defensive shape to capture what was arguably the biggest win of the year.
Honorable Mentions: Camilo (Vancouver Whitecaps), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), William Hesmer (Columbus Crew), Nizar Khalfan (Vancouver Whitecaps), Jeff Parke (Seattle Sounders), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Mauro Rosales (Seattle Sounders)
We just got another update from a Husky busy at work with his summer team. Here's a missive from Joe Meggs, who checks in the from Terre Haute, Ind.:
JOE MEGGS, Terre Haute Rex
The Terre Haute Rex are currently on a three-day break for the Prospect League All-Star Game. We are tied for first so far for the second half. The season has been going by very quickly, and before you know it will be time for fall ball. The weather has been pretty hot. The heat index for a recent game was 115. It was probably the hottest game I've ever been a part of. It's a good thing I am always hydrating.
We had a new addition to our team recently. Erlin Santosa, a pitcher, joined our team from the Dominican Republic via Western Oklahoma State College. "E" as he is known amongst our team speaks little English, so it has been educational and humorous trying to communicate with him. Initially people on our team just asked him to translate their favorite four-letter words into Spanish and everyone had a good time with that.
I've been able to talk to him a bit thanks to three years of high-school Spanish. It's been easier and easier every day for him, as he learns more English and we learn more Spanish. Due to my above-average Spanish speaking skills I have earned the nickname "Mexicano" from E. Other notable nicknames he has given include "Pedroia" (our 3rd baseman), "Gordo" (our catcher), and "Mariano" (our closer). E has a terrible taste in music but it has been cool getting a taste of a foreign baseball culture.
I had been waiting many months for this moment. Blueberry season. Some people get excited about getting married, others about winning the lottery. For me, it's blueberries. If only I had a larger freezer, as 10 pounds just wasn't enough.
Blueberries are one of the "superfoods" as they're packed with anti-oxidants, Vitamin A, C, E, and B-6, folic acid, potassium, fiber, manganese, iron, and zinc, among many others, and help to lower blood sugar levels. The best way to freeze blueberries (and other berries) is to rinse/clean and dry, lie in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, remove and pour berries into plastic Ziploc bag or Tupperware container and store in the freezer. Frozen fruit works great for smoothies in place of fresh fruit and ice.
After my white water rafting adventure on the Wenatchee River the previous weekend (who can't use a little water up the nose?), I packed my blueberry muffins and jam in the car and headed to the Oregon Coast to take the high performance machine out for a ride. I know what you're thinking. But no, I'm not talking about me, but rather taking my bike out for 60 miles over 2 days. (This may have been slightly optimistic considering I'd never biked more than 16 miles at one time. But hey, that's how I roll.) However, as they sometimes do, our plans fell through when we realized we would be biking down the shoulder of a highway with cars rushing by and not the quiet scenic route we had envisioned. So, we changed things up and biked the back roads of the coast on Saturday, went to the beach (almost took a picture of the muffin on the beach, but there was so much wind, the sand would have blown all over it and these muffins are too good to be wasted), flew a kite, visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory (apparently more popular for its ice cream than cheese) and headed to Portland on Sunday to bike 35 miles of the Springwater Corridor. Three hours and two very sore butts later, neither of us felt capable of driving home.
US captured lightning in a bottle: http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/id/6754797/women-world-cup-uscaptured-lightning-bottle-brazil-soccer.
US-Brazil ratings best since 1999: http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/news/_/id/6757600/us-brazil-gets-best-ratings-1999.
US vs. Brazil game recap: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/report/_/id/323673?cc=5901.
Fan support helped propel US to win: http://espn.go.com/sports/soccer/blog/_/name/lowe_jaime/id/6754814/fan-support-helped-propel-us-win.
Solo saves the US: http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/news?slug=ycn-8766917.
Five facts about Hope: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/763713-hope-solo-5-fun-facts-about-team-usas-star-goaltender.
If you can't love soccer after this: http://wcfcourier.com/sports/soccer/commentary-if-u-s-can-t-love-soccer-after-this/article_759a2d28-ab76-11e0-8f92-001cc4c002e0.html.
The REAL Beauty: http://thestir.cafemom.com/beauty_style/122870/hope_solo_this_is_real.
University of Washington business students Marc Barros and Jason Green, each also avid skiers, needed an entry for an entrepreneurial contest. Hey, they thought, why don't we figure out how to attach a camera to a ski helmet and film our runs?
"We really just wanted to show our friends what we were doing," he said.
The contraption of a camera connected to a battery-powered camcorder won third place in the Business Plan Competition and $20,000. And that helped them start a Seattle-based company, Contour, that last year was rated as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation by Inc. Magazine.
The hands-free cameras have been used largely by skiers, cyclists, hunters and similar outdoor enthusiasts, but recently have begun to creep into widespread use in team sports such as football, putting a whole new spotlight on the company.
It was one of Contour's cameras that UW coach Steve Sarkisian affixed to his quarterbacks for the school's Spring Game last April. A video of a couple of minutes of Keith Price wearing one was linked by national websites and has had roughly 35,000 views on YouTube.
Little known at the time was that Barros, the CEO of the company, is a former soccer player at Issaquah High and UW, attending Washington from 2000 to 2003.
Pretty exciting," said Barros of the publicity that has begun to come to the company from the use of the cameras by UW, as well as Notre Dame and by NFL quarterbacks Michael Vick and Peyton Manning, and receiver Wes Welker during a Pro Bowl practice.
Sarkisian said that to the general fan, the video helps give a realistic look at what it's like to be a quarterback.
"For so long everyone has said, 'Gosh, I wish I could see what the quarterback sees. What that experience is like,' " said Sarkisian, a college quarterback at Brigham Young and later in the Canadian Football League. "And it's the closest I've seen to the reality of what a quarterback is truly seeing."
What struck many observers watching the video, including Barros, was the speed of the game.
"We were surprised how fast those guys are," Barros said. "The speed is just the most impressive part."
Sarkisian said that as a coach, there is huge potential value in being able to eavesdrop on the quarterback on the field.
"You can mike him up and listen to him talk and call plays and all that," he said. "But it's another thing to have that miked up and not just have film of him but actually see what he is remotely looking at. You don't necessarily see where his eyes are, but at least what he's going through from a timeline emotionally and what he sounds like. So it works hand-in-hand for us.
"It gave us a pretty good perspective what he's like in and out of the huddle and getting plays and his ability to get to the next snap. All of those things really came into play."
(By the way, Sarkisian noted that the plays Price is calling on the video don't necessarily correspond with what the viewer then sees being run -- the school took some editing liberties in case future opponents might have decided to watch.)
The cameras, which weigh 5.2 ounces, may be worn on top of the helmet instead of on the side, giving the best possible view of what the quarterback is seeing. And for now, only quarterbacks in non-contact periods can wear them since obviously any other player could get hit in the helmet and the camera broken.
Barros promises the company will continue to evolve.
After winning the $20,000, he had his uncle co-sign on a loan for another $50,000 to get the company started in 2003. The first office was in a warehouse with no heat in Mountlake Terrace. "There was just two of us in a room," he said. "I wouldn't let my mom visit."
From those humble beginnings, Contour now has more than 50 employees working out of a downtown Seattle office.
Its latest innovation is cameras with real-time GPS (which might actually be handy for all those Little League parents who Barros says buy them to put on their kids playing in the outfield).
Sarkisian, meanwhile, said the spring experiment with the cameras will continue.
"I'm not sure if it's an everyday operation for us, but it's definitely something we can use going forward," he said.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part three below.
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part three below.
My first task was to find out who Larbi Ben Barek was. If he had been mentioned in the European press, he must have been important at some point in time. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but then again, Moroccan names all sounded alike. My Uncle Ali was the one to ask. He claimed that he had read the newspaper every morning since he was twenty years old, and joked that he knew more about politics than King Hassan himself. Of course, that joke was never repeated outside the privacy of his home, because we all knew what could happen to Uncle Ali if the wrong person overheard.
The next time we had a family gathering, while all of the women were busy cooking up a delicious meal, I managed to talk to him alone for a few minutes.
"Uncle Ali, have you heard of Larbi Ben Barek?"
"Ah, yes my child... The "Black Pearl" of Football... the "Foot of God" as the Spaniards called him. He was the first black man to play professional football overseas in Europe. His days of fame were in the 40s and 50s, when I was just a young man, like you. He was miraculous. Anyone who saw him play raved about his talent, his feints, his foot skills...He danced with the ball, it was beautiful to watch."
"What happened to him?" I asked a bit too suddenly, divulging my increasing curiosity.
"No one really knows..." My uncle took a long pause and sighed heavily, shaking his head. "All of a sudden, we stopped reading about him in the sports section, it was as if he had vanished. I'm not sure if he stayed in Europe or ever returned to Morocco."
"Hmmm...." I responded automatically. My imagination was already grinding like a paste of roasted argan seeds, as various intrigue-filled scenarios unfolded in my mind.
"I might be able to dig up some old newspapers that mention him, if you'd like. You know I have a bad habit of keeping everything." We both laughed when he said this.
"That'd be great, thank you so much!" I flashed my teeth, a huge grin spreading across my face. I left my uncle's house with a heavy stack of newspapers digging into my arms. As excited as a young child on the verge of unwrapping a big present, I was impatient to start flipping through the frayed, yellowed pages I held in my hands.
Tarik momentarily toyed with the idea that had caught him by surprise, despite his intuition to repress the thought. He only had a few seconds to make up his mind. His hand shot into the air before he had the time to make a sensible decision, as if his limbs were operating separately from his brain.
"What about my little brother, Karim? He's only one year younger than me. He's pretty good, coach..." His heart was beating rapidly. What had he gotten himself into?
The newspaper clippings my Uncle Ali gave me were incredibly useful. Scanning the headlines, I was able to trace the path Ben Barek had taken in his professional career, from his debut at the Olympique de Marseille in 1938, to his return to the Union Sportive Marocaine of Casablanca during the war, all the way though his last international match for France in 1954:
"Ben Barek scores two in first official match at Olympique de Marseille" (24 November 1938)
"Ben Barek late goal sends OM to French Championship" (13 May 1939)
"3 from Ben Barek spurs France win against Poland" (23 January 1939)
"Ben Barek eyes more titles with USM" (14 May 1941)
"Ben Barek leads USM to crown of North African Cup" (6 July 1942)
"Ben Barek late goal earns Paris the win" (2 November 1947)
"France downs Portugal, Ben Barek scores two" (24 November 1947)
"France blanks Czechoslovakia, Ben Barek man of the match" (13 June 1948)
"Ben Barek to Atletico de Madrid for 8 million" (24 July 1948)
"The Foot of God leads Madrid to Spanish title" (12 June 1950)
"Ben Barek key to success, Madrid cruises to second consecutive title" (10 June 1951)
"Son of OM President convinces Ben Barek to return to Marseille" (17 December 1953)
"The Black Pearl keen on French title, leads OM to another championship" (24 May 1954)
"Public protest follows Ben Barek's dismissal from France squad" (28 August 1954)
"Ben Barek returns to France team by popular verdict" (10 September 1954)
"Leg injury forces Ben Barek to withdraw from France squad" (18 October 1954)
"The Black Pearl retired French jersey" (June 4 1955)
"Ben Barek coaches Morocco to gold medal in Beirut Pan-Arabic games" (28 October 1957)
Several things caught my attention as I read the articles. The press had been very quick to point out that Ben Barek did not have French nationality or citizenship. They had also been extremely critical of his play, despite the success he had brought to all the teams he had played for, resulting in Ben Barek's dismissal from the French national team. I was stunned by the influence the press had in such matters. However, I learned that Ben Barek had been recalled to the French squad by popular demand, revealing the deep chasm between the opinion of the general public and that of the political actors on the European football stage. The recurring trend I picked up on in the news clippings was that regardless of how talented he was, Ben Barek had always been blamed for his origins and for the color of his skin, a consequence of the racism and colonial mindset inherent to any type of international relations, even a mere game of football.
I sensed that a big piece of the puzzle was still missing. The events I had uncovered thus far could not possibly explain why Monsieur Larbi had killed himself. And who was this Hassan to whom he had written his farewell letter?
"Anyone will do," Ahmed responded morosely, handing him an extra uniform.
Ahmed cared deeply for his players. He had grown up in similar circumstances and understood that the moments playing football represented a temporary escape from the hardships they faced on a daily basis.
Several more Husky baseball players have sent in updates from their summer ball teams. Today, we hear again from Humboldt Crabs ace Aaron West, as well as for the first time from players like Will Sparks, Zach Wright and incoming JC transfer pitcher Jacob Coats.
Here's what they have to say.
ZACH WRIGHT, Lacrosse Loggers
So far my experience here in Lacrosse, Wisc., in the Northwoods League has been pretty good. The town is small, and I haven't had much time to explore Lacrosse because we play nearly every day, but the people who live here are nice. Our team is finally complete with the last couple guys coming in after finishing up at the College World Series. And since them we have been playing pretty well winning seven of our last nine games I believe. Our head coach Andy McKay from Sacramento City College talks a lot on the mental aspect of baseball and that has been the focus it seems since I have been here.
Since I have been here I have had two starts, getting the no decision in the first, coming out in the fifth with the score tied 1-1, and getting the win the second coming out after the sixth. Pitching in the Northwoods so far has been a great experience, the stands are always packed, and we regularly have a couple thousand people in attendance.
A typical day as a Logger pitcher consists of showing up at the ballpark between 1:00 and 2:00 depending on the game time which is usually between 6:00 and 7:00. Once we are there coach McKay talks to us for a bit, then we get stretched out and pitchers go and throw. We have about forty-five minutes to throw, stretches, do band work, and throw short-boxes before the hitters start batting practice and we have to go shag. After shagging, we sometimes have time for PFP's, but usually have fifteen minutes to rest then go and start our conditioning that we do every day. Once were done with that we have about an hour to hang around, get ready, and get the field prepared for the game.
All in all I feel I have gotten a great deal better and am ready to come back to the UW and help the Dawgs fight for a Pac-12 title! Can't wait for fall ball. Thanks for checking in. I'll update you more very soon!
AARON WEST, Humboldt Crabs
The week of the 4th of July was filled with some great baseball by the Crabs and our opponents. On the 4th we beat the Gnats while throwing a combined no-hitter for nine innings. In the first Far West League game against the Atwater Aviators and former Husky Julien Pollard, the bats exploded, scoring six runs in the first inning.
The second game was a different story because the Aviator pitcher had a no-hitter going into the ninth inning. Brett Morgan of UC Davis hit a single up the middle to end the no-hitter. In the third game our bats exploded again and we put the nail in the coffin with a seven-run fifth inning. Before playing us the Aviators were 6-0 in league and were in first place. Up next is a three-game Far West League series against the California Glory.
Thanks for checking back in. More to come soon ...
WILL SPARKS, Neptune Beach Pearl
Summer ball has been going on for about a month now and things are going great. I'm playing for the Neptune Beach Pearl, located in Alameda, Calif. Alameda is relatively small city located right outside of Oakland and about an hour away from my hometown of Saratoga. Because of the proximity to my house, I've been living at home and commuting to and from the park everyday instead of living with a host family. It's kind of a pain driving that much but my bed is really comfortable and my mom is a really good cook so it's worth it!
Even though I've grown up close to Alameda, I've never spent much time there until now. It's a great community and the people been really supportive of our team. For the 4th of July, Alameda hosts an annual parade that attracts around 50,000 people. Our team took part in the event and it was pretty exciting. We had a good amount of fans that seemed pretty pumped up to see us. Despite our best efforts, we didn't take home the "Best Float" award. Maybe next time.
As far as our team goes, we've got a good group of guys from all around the country and I've been having a lot of fun. Right now our record is 15-13 and we're right in the hunt to make the playoffs.
Our most interesting trip so far was easily our weekend in Arcata. After a six-hour drive, we got ready for a three-game series against the Humboldt Crabs (fellow Husky teammate Aaron West's team). The Crabs housed a little over 1,000 fans per game making it the most hostile environment we've encountered so far. We ended up getting swept and the fans were relentless the entire time. There was a lady who went up to the fence and screamed at our on deck hitters, a man who threw newspapers in our dugout, and another man in right field who constantly yelled at me for wearing my socks too high.
On Saturday, our starting pitcher was so rattled he walked the first four hitters and was pulled without even getting an out. With all of this said, I can't wait to go back up there for the playoffs and get another chance. I need some redemption. Thanks for stopping by Husky fans, I'll update you more very soon ...
CHASE ANSELMENT, Brewster Whitecaps
Hey Chase Anselment here. I'm out in Brewster, Mass., for my third week playing for the Brewster Whitecaps in the Cape Cod League. In the past week I feel like I have really progressed as a player defensively and offensively as a result of playing against the great competition found here in the Cape. The weather here has been amazing and we have been playing almost every day. It is a great challenge to play baseball every day. Probably very similar to what one would face as a minor league player.
Along with playing baseball I have been working in the mornings 8-12 Monday through Friday as a maintenance worker at a special needs school with a fellow teammate. The job has been pretty tough but gives me an opportunity to make some money and help out the community as well. I have some great teammates, one of them being fellow Husky Austin Voth, who is pitching very well for us over the last few weeks. Overall I'm enjoying my time out here in Cape Cod and would recommend this as a vacation spot. I am anxious to get back to Seattle to start fall with my team, but for the time being I am having a blast. I'll update you guys more very soon. Go Dawgs!
JACOB COATS, Bellingham Bells
Baseball has been going great in Bellingham. I've been up here playing in the West Coast League for the Bells. I'm still building up to my first start from my elbow surgery but I feel I've been making progress with the pitching coach here and I'm excited for that to transfer over to UW [note: Jacob is an incoming transfer from Everett CC.].
I've made three appearances here pitching only an inning each to build up my arm strength. My pitch count has stayed low and I'm due to get a couple more innings of work here soon. The team here is great and the pitching staff is phenomenal. We have a ton of a good arms including Husky pitcher Nick Palewicz, who is dominating as a closer. I can't wait to be with the Huskies and help contribute to the program. I will check back in again very soon. Go Dawgs!
Here's are two more entries from UW baseball players and their summer-ball adventures. Today, we hear from Adam Cimber and Tyler Kane:
TYLER KANE, Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs
Hi there again from Little Falls, N.Y. The DiamondDawgs just snapped a 10 game losing streak tonight! It was a brutal week and a half. Other than losing so many games things are going great here. I've gotten into a routine of going to the YMCA every day to lift, some days I run there and back. After that I head over to the field for our games.
The best part of this summer has been some of our off days. Just this last Monday I went to Fenway Park for the first time and it was incredible. I even got to see Travis Snider who plays for the Blue Jays and is from my home town, Mill Creek, Wash. He also played with Husky teammate Geoff Brown in high school. On a day that we got rained out at home we had a great time with tarp sliding. We had about six inches of water on the tarp and would run and slide about fifty feet.
Baseball couldn't be much better for me right now. I'm in the closer role as of right now and am proud to say I have not walked one person. I am actually getting a start this Saturday at home and pumped for that. Not too much else to report but I'll be checking in later on.
ADAM CIMBER, Green Bay Bullfrogs
What's up? Checking back in from Green Bay. Riding a bus to Wisconsin Rapids as I write this. The weather's gotten a lot warmer since my last post. Hasn't been raining as much and most days are clear skies. Hot and HUMID. With the increase in heat comes an increase in bugs.
Before I got here I talked to people who knew the area, and they all said be sure to bring bug spray. Then I got here and was like "Ehhh, bugs aren't that bad." This past week has been unbelievable though.
Mosquitoes run this city. Apparently when the Bullfrogs were formed a few years ago, we were almost called the Green Bay Skeeters, 'cause of all the pests. Right around the seventh inning, a cloud of them just cruises in and eats everybody alive. My buddy in the pen counted yesterday and has 108 bites on him. It was a manic panic in the dugout yesterday, everyone fighting to grab the single can of bug spray we had with us. You look out at the field and see guys at every position dancing around smacking themselves trying to kill them. It's gross.
Baseball-wise, I'm having more fun than ever. Doesn't get much better than sleeping in, hitting the gym, playing a game, and hanging out with the guys in between. It's a good group of guys and I think we've got a good shot at making the playoffs. The way the Northwoods works is the season is divided into two halves. The winner of the first half gets a playoff birth and the winner of the second half gets the other.
With two divisions, four teams go. We just came up short the first half, one game back of the first place team.
Personally, I've been throwing well. Put on five pounds already. Working hard and having fun. Miss my UW family though and can't wait to see them in a couple months. I'll be checkin' back in soon. Later!
Husky baseball players are spending their summers all across the nation, playing for a variety of summer teams and leagues stretching from Cape Cod to Alaska to California.
Recently, we heard from several of those Huskies, who share with us how their summers are going. Here's what they had to say:
AUSTIN VOTH, Brewster Whitecaps
Since my last message, I have played in a lot more games and learned more about the town. I have been doing very well so far in our season. I have a 0.00 era with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched. I am one of the three players on my team that has an era of zero.
The Brewster Whitecaps (my team) is in second place in our division and will have a chance to move up to first place tonight when we play the Harwich Mariners. They are a well-rounded team with speed, power, and pitching.
I am getting to know the people of this town very well. A couple days ago, my team and I went to a local library where we signed bats and balls while answering any questions from the people of Brewster.
It was amazing to find out all the people who were interested in your life and wanted to know about your baseball career. Also at many of our games, during and after the games, kids come up to us either if were in the bullpen or going to the bathroom wanting our autographs.
Many of the players on my team have been doing very well. Taylor Davis is leading the division in batting average and Tanner Nivins is tied with the lead in home runs and leads the division in hits. An exciting thing to see last week was seeing Scott Griggs accomplishing his goal of hitting 97 mph. We are almost half way through the season and I'm looking forward to seeing my team slide into first place.
AARON WEST, Humboldt Crabs
I arrived in Arcata, Calif., on June 15 and since then life has not been the same. Arcata is a small town with a population of 15,700. This town is full of local businesses and restaurants. The only major corporate store is a Safeway that I tend to frequent a lot because I love to eat.
Every restaurant has some sort of pizza or burger that you can buy. The weather here is not typical California weather. It hasn't gotten above 62 degrees here yet and at night during are 7 p.m. games it is usually 50 degrees with lots of wind. Most of the guys are from southern California and can be seen bundled up with two sweatshirts and pullovers.
The fans here in Arcata are amazing to say the least. We average 800 people attending our games and will fill the house at 1,500. When opponents play us there also playing the screaming and heckling fans as well. One wild pitch or one bad play adds fuel to the fire, a fellow Husky Will Sparks can vouch for that as his team's starting pitcher walked four straight hitters causing the Arcata fans to go crazy.
The field itself is different from most baseball fields out there. A home run to right gives someone the chance to put a dent in a cop car in the police station while a home run to left puts the ball onto the freeway with cars going 65.
The mound is a short flat bump on the field that cause many opposing pitchers to trip and fall on their first warm up throw, again the crowd will go wild.
Every night there is a 50/50 raffle that the fans will buy tickets for to get a chance to win half of the money that they team makes that night. I have yet to see a winning below $200 and on our 4th of July game the winning total was $1,530 which was about an eight-inch stack of money. My grandparents have yet to win but they will be here for a few more days so there's still a chance.
Unlike most summer teams we do not live with host families. The entire team lives in one apartment complex that is a block away from the field. Three of us live in a small, two-bedroom apartment but it's free so no one is complaining.
The Crabs players are treated like kings in this small town. On Sundays we go to Big Pete's to get pizza and drinks and if we win the fans get free pizza as well. Pretty awesome deal as they really know how to treat their players. Overall this has been a great experience. I am very excited to get back to UW to see my teammates and to get going this fall! That is all for now, GO DAWGS!
TY AFENIR, Anchorage Bucs
Hello Husky Nation, Ty Afenir here. We traveled to Kenai last weekend to play a pretty good team called the Oilers. We beat them in extra innings so it was worth sleeping in the 4-by-8 bedroom with two bunk beds that night. We stayed in a bingo hall with walls that didn't even go up to the ceiling, which separated each room. It added to the experience! I have been hitting the ball well this last week. The competition is very good as to be expected with this league.
The wildlife is awesome in Kenai. The place to fish is in the Kenai River where you can find king salmon. The town was small and it was mostly older people living there but if you ever get a chance to go to Alaska, I would highly recommend visiting Kenai.
Last night was the 4th of July doubleheader against our city rivals which always turns out to be a good game. We played two seven-inning games. We lost the first and won the second and ended the great night with fireworks. There was about 6,000-plus fans in attendance, which produced a pretty fun environment to play in. Half the season is over and I'm looking forward to the second half. Talk to you guys soon!
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part two below.
Souad Zehria envied her brothers deeply. When she was very young, she was allowed to go outside and play football with her older brothers, but as soon as she grew old enough to help with the chores and the cooking, she had to relinquish this pleasure. Her love for the game never subsided, but she always kept this passion to herself. The more Souad secretly longed to play, the more her mother tightened her grip.
Souad loved bringing mint tea to her father after dinner, because he always watched football games on the shabby television the family owned. As she poured him a steaming cup, she would steal glances at the game her father was watching. The vibrant green fields on the tiny screen came to symbolize her longing for the game. The realization of her dream to play football appeared as distant as the lush, perfectly mowed grass of the European football clubs. She knew only the dusty red alleys and empty lots of the surrounding area. She cherished these rare glimpses of the beautiful game, sometimes even purposefully spilling the tea, in order to extend the fleeting moments in front of the television. Her father never caught on, or so she thought.
On her way home from school, Souad would pick up discarded newspapers and scan the page for action shots of football players, which she would cut out and add to her growing collection. This was her most treasured possession, which she hid in a box underneath the bed she shared with her three brothers. Sometimes, she would find pages from L'Equipe, the famous French newspaper dedicated to football. An entire paper solely devoted to the sport she loved! The mere thought gave her the chills. If only she could read it, she would be happier. She attempted to decipher the words on the page with the little French she knew, but this often just frustrated her. How unfair that the class she had to miss every afternoon to help her mother in the kitchen was the French Language class? Yet she committed to memory the names of all the players and teams she could find, with the hope of one day seeing them play.
Souad slowly accumulated a soccer knowledge that could rival any boy her age, but she made every attempt to conceal her passion from those around her, especially her family. She could only imagine her mother's reaction if she discovered her only daughter preferred football to cooking, or the scene her father would make if he learned his adolescent daughter would willingly forego the jilbab for a football uniform exposing her bare arms and legs.
The only person she could confide in was Tarik. Schoolmates, Souad and Tarik had been friends since they were very young, and lived in the same neighborhood.
She remembered how they had first become friends, in first grade. Souad and Tarik regularly finished their in-class work long before the other students. Too busy helping the other students, their teacher would send them out into the yard to play. They would chase each other in circles until they were out of breath, or tell funny stories that would make them explode with laughter. These shared moments on the schoolyard had brought them quite close, and they stuck together from that point on.
Souad was sometimes allowed to go to Tarik's home after dinnertime under the pretense of doing schoolwork. On these occasions, they would run to an empty lot far from their houses to kick the ball around. This was the only chance Souad had to play football, and she had to carefully space out the times she went over to Tarik's house so as not attract any suspicion. The two would take turns practicing the moves that they had seen on television, or make up their own sequence of foot skills, more complex and creative each time. Tarik had given Souad a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, which she would conceal underneath her jilbab on her way out of the house.
In the warm evening breeze, she would let her imagination flourish, rolling, tapping, cutting, twirling around the ball, until she was dizzy with excitement. The moments were magical for her, the only time she felt liberated, free from her father's strict gaze and her mother's rigid expectations. They would play until the moon's reflection off the pearls of sweat on their temples softly reminded them it was time to return home.
It wasn't until later that night, when I was alone in my room, that I reread the letter slowly. I hadn't given it to the police. I'm not exactly sure why, but I had a feeling it would end up in the wrong hands if I turned it in.
Although he had lived across the hall for as long as I could remember, I realized that I knew nothing about this Monsieur Larbi. I suddenly had an irresistible urge to find out more about his past. I was a sixteen-year-old, incredibly curious teenage boy, and I was determined to uncover the events that had led to this man's mysterious demise.
Coach Ahmed called the boys in at the end of practice.
"Be here at three for our game on Friday. " Ahmed had a worried look on his face. One of his best players, Murad, had just broken the news that he wouldn't be able to play in the game. Murad's grandmother was very sick and his family was going out of town to visit her. The team was already short on players as it was, and they were playing their rivals, the Lycée Français de Rabat. Ahmed's team was pretty good, but they needed Murad: he was their best scorer. The timing could not have been worse.
"Since Murad cannot be there, do any of you know someone who could fill in for him?"
They shook their heads. This was expected: most of the teenage boys were unable to play for the school because they had to work after class got out, which was when the team practiced.
After a few years of sharing my cooking adventures and the occasional food sample with those willing (and sometimes unfortunate) individuals in the athletic training room, I've decided to start sharing these experiences with a (hopefully) broader audience, while at the same time providing insight into working with different ingredients, cooking methods, and other kitchen related knowledge that you didn't know or think you needed. Hopefully, we will not relive my chewy cracker experience, the ravioli that fell apart in the water when cooking, the absurdly awful baked healthy veggie corndogs or the yeast that wouldn't grow for my sourdough bread bowl since my condo was freezing cold because I'm too cheap to turn the heat on. But just as in any situation, practice (and failure) makes (more closer to) perfect.
So we start with protein bars. They're easier to make than muffins (read: hard to screw up) and customizable to your tastes and preferences as well as much cheaper and healthier than the store bought version. Portable and nutritious, they're good for a quick breakfast, before and after workouts, as a mid afternoon snack, or even to bring along on a hike - like the trip I went on to Whidbey Island last weekend. The Ebey's Landing hiking trail had unbelievable views and I just wish I had a better camera than my phone. Blisters and tendonitis aside, it was a great time. However, I did come close to supporting the new extreme sport of Barefoot Hiking as I tried to decide whether stepping on rocks and branches was better or worse than dealing with blisters. Of course, most of my blister care supplies were sitting safely back in the car. As this is a G rated blog, I include pictures of scenery here rather than my injuries.
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