Monday, September 8, 2014

Hawk Nation,
I know it has been a few days since the Hawks have landed back in the States, but it has taken this long for me to get over jet lag. After traveling for 32 hours, it was tough getting back on East Coast time. I think I am fully recovered and can’t believe what a wonderful trip we all had. 
I am not sure if I will ever be back in Australia, but I do know that I will never forget our time there. I hope to be able to look back at this trip and say that this was the starting point of a very successful year. It already feels like we have won a championship from the way the team bonded together as well as the educational experience afforded to our team.
The highlight of the trip for me was snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. That was just an awesome experience. Winning two games against pro-level competition wasn’t too bad either. The lowlight, although there were not many, was the three hour delay in the Brisbane Airport. This just made the trip back to the States even longer. I am still surprised at how many movies and how many hours of sleep you can get on a plane in one flight.

I have thoroughly enjoyed keeping you all informed on our travels and experiences abroad. I want to thank each and every member of Hawk Nation for reading these blogs. I hope you all continue to follow all 18 UHart Sports to see how we are doing this year. We need and appreciate all of your support. Until next time, always remember, “It’s a good day to be a Hawk.”  
“Hawk Nation Domination.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hawk Nation,

We have spent our last day in Australia. Most of us hung around the pool after we ate a group breakfast. Others were a little more active and rode jet skis where they spotted crocodiles. But, we had one other member of the travel party seek out the ultimate adventure by going skydiving. As you can see, we have a lot of diversity in this group.  

We brought the evening to a close by having a great dinner together. It was our last meal in Australia as a group and during the dinner, we all had a chance to get up and speak to the group about what this trip has meant to us and the special highlights from the trip. It was really great to hear how this trip has made this group a lot closer.  

I got on the bus at the University of Hartford as the Director of Athletics and I will be flying back to the States as a family member of this group. I am happy that my family (wife and two daughters) were able to come on this awesome trip and make lifetime memories with this group. This is a great start to the school year and our season.  

I believe the things we experienced on this trip will help us be successful this year in the classroom, in the community, and on the court. This trip has definitely made me proud to be a Hawk! 

We now have to wake up at 3:30 a.m., so we can get to the airport for our early departure.  We will be flying from Cairns to Brisbane to Los Angeles to New York. Then busing back to the University of Hartford. I am not looking forward to the long trip, but I can’t wait to get home.

Thanks for following us on our Hawks Down Under Adventures!!!

Hawk Nation,
We enjoyed a little fun in the sun by the pool during the day and then got back to some serious competition.We had most of the day to ourselves, so many of us walked around the city to explore it, but it seemed like we all ended up at the rooftop pool for some much needed rest and relaxation.
When evening came, we boarded the bus to head to our final competition. We were all excited to play the Cairns Taipans because they were supposed to to be the best team out of all of the teams we were going to face on this tour. Let me tell you, they lived up to their reputation.This team was huge and they were great shooters.
Our guys played really hard and shot the ball fairly well.The Hawks did an awesome job of battling the Taipans, but fell short in the end.I had a chance to chat to the Cairns head coach and he talked about how he was impressed with our team and wished us all the best with the upcoming season.
We have on more full day in Cairns and then we will begin our travels back to the States. I am definitely not looking forward to our 3 a.m. departure from the hotel, but it will be great to finally get back to Hawk Country.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hawk Nation
Yesterday (Sunday) was uneventful. We left Melbourne and traveled by air three hours north to Cairns. The weather here is definitely an improvement over both Sydney and Melbourne.  

Today, we went on a tourist adventure. We boarded a large boat and went out to the Great Barrier Reef. The ride was choppy on the way out. We started by sitting outside, but between the crashing waves and the wind blowing like crazy, we decided to go inside for the second half of the ride.  

Out in the middle of the Reef, there was a huge pontoon set up that allowed us to dock there.  A few of us signed up for scuba diving, while the rest of us signed up to ride on the Scuba-Doo machines. The Scuba-Doos allow you to sit in a motorized underwater machine and tour the Reef. It was one of the coolest experiences that I have ever had. You are underwater, but your head is in a glass bubble that allows you to breathe air.  

During the ride, we were able to see all the wonders of the Reef and even pet a huge colorful fish. We rode in a semi-submarine and were able to go below deck to an underwater observatory. Many of us also took some time to go snorkeling. It was a great day and we were definitely wore out at the end of the day as many of us took naps during the two hour boat ride back to shore. The one thing for sure is that this will be a memory that we will all fondly remember for a long time.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hawk Nation,
Say it with me, “GO HAWKS! GO HAWKS!” (with an Australian accent). This is what we heard last night from a crowd of 85,000+. The chants weren’t for the Hartford Hawks, they were for the Hawthorn Hawks, the local and very popular Australian Football League (AFL) team. More about that adventure in a second. First, let’s recap the day.  

We started by going over to Taylor Dyson’s house for lunch. Taylor lives about an hour or so from downtown Melbourne. His parents have a great house and they set up a catered meal for our entire travel party. It was here we discussed the remaining events on our itinerary for the evening.  

We were fortunate enough be able to attend the AFL game between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Geelong Cats. The fact that the home team was also named the Hawks made it that much more exciting to cheer for them. I had been watching a little AFL on TV here, so I could try to understand what we would be experiencing, but it wasn’t until we were at Taylor’s house watching a game on TV that we really started to understand the rules of the game.  

To our surprise, we were given scarfs with Hawks printed on them in the Hawthorn brown and yellow colors, so we obviously decided we would all wear them to the game. 

After busing back and changing our clothes, we headed to the game.  The atmosphere inside and outside of the stadium was electric. It totally reminded me of an NFL rivalry game. The stadium was huge and they play on a field that is about 180 yards long and 160 yards wide. The game is fast paced, physical, and high scoring. It’s like a mix of rugby, soccer, volleyball, and basketball all being played at the same time.  

The Hawks were down 30 points in the third quarter and then all of sudden mounted an incredible comeback to win the game. Our crew was super excited to be a part of the winning crowd and we really got into cheering for the Hawks. 

We next travel to Cairns for the last leg of our trip. Everybody we have met has told us how beautiful it is up there and how nice the weather is going to be, so we are looking forward to this part of the trip. See you in Cairns!!! GO HAWKS!!! GO HAWKS!!!

Hawk Nation,
A pretty good day today here down under on Thursday. The weather was fabulous. Short sleeve shirt type weather for the first time since we arrived in Australia. We were able to sleep in for the first time also, since we didn't have breakfast until 10 a.m. 
After breakfast, we took the trolley to the Queen Victoria Station, which was like a huge flea market. Riding the trolley was fun because it gave us a chance to see some of the landmarks of the city without walking. The Market was cool because there were a ton of things to buy. I wanted to buy an Australian soccer jersey, but they didn't have my size. 
After the Market, we had pre-game dinner at a Chinese Restaurant by the River. The game tonight was against the Knox Raiders. We were down 10 points at halftime and cut it to one point at the end of the third quarter. The Hawks played a great fourth quarter and pulled out a 83-76 win over the Knox Raiders. Now it is time for us to relax and get ready for another great day Down Under. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hawk Nation,

What a day, what a night! We had a wake-up call at 3:30 a.m. and left the hotel at 4:15 a.m. or sometime around there. I really can’t be precise on the time because I felt delirious after only a couple hours of sleep. LOL. Our flight for Melbourne left Sydney at 6 a.m. The flight was only an hour, so the travel was not that bad. After sitting in traffic for a long time because we were in rush hour, we finally got to our hotel, where the rooms were not quite ready at 9 a.m. Many of us went to eat breakfast somewhere in the city, while others just waited in the lobby to be assigned their rooms. 

The rest of the morning/afternoon was free time. Needless to say, most of us in the travel party either slept or just tried to relax. I know a few went to walk around the city to explore it, but the majority of the travel party tried to get their bodies back in sync with the time of the day. For our pregame meal, we went to a great restaurant in the Crowne Center, which is located next to the river. The food was out of this world. Most people had some type of pasta bowl, and there was a lot of discussion about how good the food tasted. There was little time between the pregame meal and the departure time for the game.

We left for the game early to try and beat some of the rush hour traffic as we were facing the Dandenong Rangers. The game was fast paced just like the others. The FIBA rules shot clock of 24 seconds definitely speeds up the game. We ended up winning the game 80-63 for our first win on this Exhibition Tour. The locker room was excited and the Hawk supporters were very proud of the effort the team put forth, knowing our hectic travel schedule.

Every night that I write this blog, I seemed to always be tired, so once again, it is time to shut it down for the night. I don’t know if I will ever get used to this time change. For example, right now it is 1:00 a.m. (early Friday morning) in Melbourne and 11 a.m. (Thursday morning) in Hartford. I hope everyone enjoys their day/night, depending on where you are in the world when you read this. Until the next blog, Go Hawks and congrats to the young men on their win, but even more for their perseverance.