There’s no better time to meet a stranger than first thing in the morning, fresh out of bed and barely awake. Or is there?
I can now speak from experience on that one and I can safely say that is probably not the best time for a first meeting with someone. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s how my Thursday morning started. Marie Claude Fornier, otherwise known as ‘MC’, the athletic therapist for the Canadian Women’s National Team, arrived to Surrey on Wednesday night and came to visit Penny in our room first thing the next morning.
Neither Penny nor I was awake when she knocked on the door, but I quickly got up and answered. My alarm was set to go off at seven-thirty, just a few minutes later, so it wasn’t a big deal but for the fact that I am sure I looked like a mess.
I welcomed MC in and we chatted and got to know each other a little bit while I tried to pack up my belongings and determine what I would be taking with me to Japan and what I wanted to send home with my mom. Before meeting Mama B later in the day to give her back her rental car and another suitcase for her to take to southwestern Ontario, I needed to figure out just how I was going to work that out.
Penny woke up not much later and joined us and caught up with MC before we all headed back to Whalley Athletic Park one last time before our departure across the International Date Line for the Women’s Baseball World Cup in Miyazaki. The three of us drove to practice together, stopping again to drop off the team’s lunch order at Subway. I took a lot of pictures over the last day of training camp and when the team broke for lunch I completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that I was nominated for by Conor Glassey.
I wanted to make sure to not only acknowledge the cause that the viral sensation is raising awareness for, but also to try and explain to people what it is and what kind of affect it has. I’ve watched a lot of challenge videos and while there are many that are good, there are far more that just seem to me like a person dumping ice water on their head and calling out three more names. That’s not really the point. Or, if it is, I don’t want to be a part of that. But like I mention in my video – assisted by first-base coach Patricia Landry behind the camera and third baseman Ashley Stephenson with the bucket – I donated to ALS Canada several weeks before completing the Internet task and I do believe that funding research to help find a cure is the most important thing.
Before leaving the field, I changed into a dry set of clothes (I thought it through ahead of time, obviously). Then I made the trek to Vancouver from Surrey to pick up my mother and try to sort through the things I had left with her previously. I had to make a stop at Nat Bailey Stadium to pick up some items for someone at home in Toronto before leaving British Columbia, so we headed in that direction and grabbed some lunch before I did that.
I have to stress once again how great the staff of the Vancouver Canadians is. Everyone was incredibly helpful and kind and went out of their way to make sure guests were happy, every customer left satisfied, and that I got everything I needed as an accredited member of the media. They were great.
My mom and I travelled back to Surrey so that she could drop me off, with a pit stop for me to pick up some essentials that I had lost or forgotten along the way. I’m pretty sure I left a whole tube of toothpaste in Seattle, and maybe some other stuff, so I had to replenish my supply. Because it took a long time to fight through traffic both to and from Vancouver, I didn’t have much time to say goodbye to my mom, but it’s just one word, right?
She wished me luck in Japan and of course told me to have a good time and be safe, or whatever else moms are supposed to say when they send their (grown up) kids across the world. We conform to the norm and do what we think we’re supposed to in situations like those, so we hugged before departing.
I didn’t have much time to work before the interviews I had scheduled for the afternoon, but I did start to get some of the pictures uploaded. Four interviews were on my docket before dinner, with each of the rookies on the team, 15-year-old Emma Carr, 16-year-olds Kelsey Lalor and Claire Eccles, and 17-year-old Heather Healey. They were all heading to my room to answer my questions about their experience with the team and then to talk a little bit about media for the upcoming trip. The story I wrote on them can be found here.
While I was doing that, Penny had the task of going grocery shopping for the evening’s competition. Each set of roommates would be a team (ours was Penny, MC and me) and we had to cook an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert, each course for another team. Some members of the squad called it Iron Chef WNT. The budget was forty dollars per team and we were in a time crunch. Because MC was seeing patients and I was trying to conduct interviews and write, Penny got stuck heading to the grocery store. The three of us had briefly discussed a plan during practice in the morning, but discontinued that talk at some point during the day when we were separated. Our discussion included thoughts of breakfast for dinner, with omelettes as our main course and crepes for dessert, however.
Penny returned from the shopping trip with the ingredients to make the aforementioned items, as well as a cobb salad for the appetizer. We went back and forth on which items to use in what but then settled on the salad, ham, cheese and mushroom omelettes, and crepes with fruit. There wasn’t enough money in the budget to have whipped topping on our dessert crepes, but we did have a couple dollars left so I went to the hotel vending machine and bought chocolate bars to melt on top. Genius.
The dinner was partly a success but also a little bit of a disaster, so I won’t go into too much detail. We made our appetizers and got everything ready for the main course before switching rooms and eating their food. MC came back just before we had to go and eat and started on the crepes (it makes sense because she’s French) but when we went to eat the appetizer served to us, we left something going and when we came back our room was full of smoke. The food we served was good, for the most part, but our room was a mess.
I say for the most part because our omelettes didn’t really work out as planned either. They were kind of my responsibility, so take that as you will. Our frying pans were terrible and everything just stuck right to them, no matter what we used, and so our omelettes turned into a scrambled egg mess, with great fried potatoes on the side. I didn’t take a picture of our main course for posting. You can figure out why. In my defence though, they tasted good.
After the food challenge was done for the night, we had a team meeting. I talked a little bit about social media and how it can affect the players and the organization and how everything on the Internet lives there forever, no matter your privacy settings or what you think you’ve deleted, and on and on. As a team, we came up with a social media policy to use going forward. It was actually tougher than you would think, trying to figure out the dos and don’ts specifically, plus trying to use blanket statements for posts and the like.
We also voted on a winner for Iron Chef WNT, which made almost no sense at all because everyone had different food and no one tasted everything. Our room didn’t get high praise for ambience, with the smokiness filtering through each and every course, and our omelettes were a little bit of a laughing stock, but I thought we did well. Penny may not have seen it the same way but I felt like our team put a strong effort forward.
When we were done, I finished my laundry – our hotel was awesome and had free washers and dryers right in our rooms, if I hadn’t mentioned that before – packed everything up to be ready go to Japan, plugged all of my devices into the wall to charge before leaving, and got some work done before heading to bed.
Less than 24 hours before landing in Japan (!), and then also moving into a time zone 16 hours ahead, so that’s a little convoluted. I’m sure you get it.