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.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hawk Nation,

We had a day off from competition today, but not a day off of activities. We gathered in the lobby at 10:30 a.m. to lay out the plan for the day. We reconvened at 11:30 a.m. for our departure on the bus to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, which is a prestigious Yacht Club. There, we boarded two yachts and sailed the Sydney Harbor. The scenes we took in and the pictures we took were amazing.  Since it is winter here, it was a bit breezy and chilly on the water, but the experience was priceless. We were then able to go inside the Yacht Club to warm up and take in the harbor views.

 We left the Club and headed back to the hotel to make a quick change of clothes. We then went to dinner at one of our Australian student-athlete’s house, Dougal Weir. His parents set up the entire day at the Yacht Club and then had us over for a fabulous dinner. The entire group was very appreciative towards them for making this entire day special and memorable for all of us.

 After dinner, we headed back to the hotel and discussed that we would be departing at 4:15am to get to the Sydney Airport for our flight to Melbourne, which is the next stop on our Australia Tour. With such an early departure, we all decided we needed to pack and get to bed as soon as possible. So, on that note, I am off to do the same. Good night Hawk Nation and we will catch up with you all in Melbourne.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hawk Nation,
G'Day Mates. As you can see, I am totally immersed in the Australian culture. The Hawks had another great day Down Under. The weather was a little better today as there was not as much rain, and we actually saw glimpses of the sun.
The day started super early for me and Coach Gallagher. We had a 7:30 a.m. breakfast meeting in the city, which required us to leave the hotel via taxi at 7:10 a.m. After breakfast, we stopped by downtown and decided to walk back to the hotel. We were both amazed about how Sydney felt like an American city similar to New York, Boston, or Washington, D.C. 
After the team ate breakfast, we met up to take a walk through the city to the Sydney Tower. This is a huge structure, similar to the Space Needle in Seattle. On the way to the top, we stopped to watch a 4-D video about Sydney. This was so cool because we put on 3-D glasses to get the effect of things coming out of the screen, but the added dimension that took it from 3-D to 4-D was the utilization of the sense of touch to go along with the popping sight. When a scene had water, we actually got sprayed with water. We then went to the top of the tower and had a chance to get a 360 degree view of Sydney from the clouds. The view was really indescribable. 
After resting for about an hour, we then headed to our pre-game meal, which consisted of a myriad of Chinese dishes. The food was delicious. We then went to the gym for the game. 
The game was fast paced and the Hawks shot extremely well in the first half to put us up at the half. The Kings came out in the third quarter, though, and made a huge run to take a lead. The Hawks fought claw and beak the rest of the second half, but came up a little short. We definitely improved our play from yesterday and that's the most important objective: get better each and everyday. 
Until tomorrow, fly with the Hawks Down Under. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hawk Nation,
Busy day today. We are all trying to get our bodies and sleep patterns to match the time zone, here, in Australia. I actually woke up early to work out in the hotel’s gymnasium. I saw a few players, coaches, and a staff member in there while I was working out. They seemed to have the game plan I had. We all met for breakfast at a great place called Pancakes on the Rocks. It has been raining most of the time we have been here, so our walks have been adventurous. The rain has been steady, but the gusts of wind have made our walks very wet.
After breakfast, we decided to see a movie in the IMAX theatre, but when we arrived, there were some technical difficulties, so we needed to find an optional activity. We decided to then walk to the Aquarium and Zoo Complex. This was a great choice. In the aquarium, we were able to see a multitude of different fish, but the highlight was the underwater tube we walked through. In this tube, we were able to see different types of sharks swim right by us. I know it is Shark Week, so there is a lot of focus on sharks on television right now, but to see them up close was really cool.
When we left the Aquarium, we went to the Wildlife Center (Zoo). This zoo was fascinating because it contained animals that were only native to Australia. We saw Koala Bears, Kangaroos, Wallabees, and a Cassowary (a pre-historic ostrich looking bird). A huge crocodile was the groups favorite attraction here. After the zoo, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our pre-game meal.
Once we finished our pre-game meal, it was time for business. We traveled about a half-hour to the gym to where we were playing. The gym we were playing in was small and unseasonably cold. I had to keep my jacket and skull cap on to brave the elements. The game was played at a very fast pace because of the 24 second clock and the eight second back court rule. Our guys came out strong, but faded a little in the 2nd quarter. We were down 43-35 at halftime to the Norths Bears. We got it down to three points late in the fourth quarter, but at the end, we came up short in the end, losing 83-76.
It was only our first game after traveling for a very long time, so hopefully, we have gotten the rust off of our game and will turn around and play hard tomorrow!


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Hawk Nation,

Wow, what a trip so far! We made it all the way from the University of Hartford to LAX to Sydney, Australia. It was a long, long, long trip. Even though, it was a super long trip, I truly have to say that with our travel accommodations on Qantas Airlines,I think the trip went well. We all watched a lot of movies, played games, listened to music, and got some sleep. When we landed, it was pouring down raining, but that didn’t stop our traveling party from being happy. We were all grateful to have landed safely and to finally get off the plane.

After we loaded the bus, we left for a short tour and a bite to eat. We saw Rose Bay, and then went to Bondi Beach to have lunch or breakfast, depending on your preference at 9:00 a.m. Australia time or 11 p.m. Connecticut time. We then traveled to our hotel and checked in to relax for a while. I had to fight the urge to go to sleep because I wanted to get my body in-sync with our new time zone. After, we went over to Newington College for practice to get loose and prepare for tomorrow’s (Monday's) game. Surprisingly, the Hawks looked lively and showed minimal negative effects from the long journey.

After practice, we got cleaned up and went out as a group to a very nice restaurant. Here is where the jet lag kicked in for almost everybody. We all ate a great meal, everything on the menu looked and smelled great. You could look in everybody’s eye that they needed and wanted sleep, many conversations at the table centered on getting back to the hotel to go to sleep. So, I have finally made it back to the hotel and I am no different than anybody else in the group. I am super tired and can’t wait to hit the send button and lay down to recharge myself for tomorrow’s activities and game. I am sure tomorrow will be great, but the only thing I want to focus on right now is my bed  Well, until next time, I wish you all well and I wish my traveling mates a good night’s sleep.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hawk Nation,

It’s almost here. One more day before we take off for Australia. I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I am almost packed; the bad news is that I am almost packed. My family is packed, so I am definitely behind. No matter what, I will be ready for the trip. The team had a really good practice today and I met with the men’s basketball staff to talk about the state of the program and the preparation for the Australia trip.

Tomorrow, Coach Gallagher and I will have an early morning meeting to discuss the renovations we are planning for the men’s basketball locker room, which we hope to have ready for the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. We will load the bus at 12:30 p.m. and leave campus at 12:45 p.m. to head to JFK Airport. Our plane is scheduled to take off at 6:45 p.m. and will head to LAX.  

After we land in LAX, the long flight to the Sydney will take off at 11:50 p.m. (PST). We will have plenty time on this flight to watch movies, read books, sleep, or whatever people do when they are on a plane for 15 hours. I am just hoping they have some cool movies, so I can watch them to pass the time.  My two little girls, Gianna (6) and Alexa (9), have already loaded up their electronic devices for the trip, but as you might be able to tell from my previous lack of preparation, I am still behind.

Tonight, I will take care of all of the things I need to travel and be ready to embark on a Hawkventure tomorrow. The Hawks are a bus ride, a plane ride, a layover, and another (long) plane ride from landing in Australia. The next time I talk to you all will be from Down Under.
Thanks for hanging out with us and we’ll talk soon. Wish us safe travels. Let’s Travel Hawks!!!  Hawk Nation Domination. 

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, we will be posting up to date information on the following: @AD_Goff_UHart and @HartfordHawks.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hawk Nation,
This is your Director of Athletics, Anton Goff, sending the first of many blogs about our men’s basketball team's trip to Australia. Today is Wednesday and we take off on Friday. I am absolutely excited about this trip. I have never been to Australia, but it has always been on my bucket list and I am looking forward to finally checking this off! I haven’t started packing yet, but I did just receive our detailed itinerary for the trip. We will be gone from Friday, August 15 through Thursday, August 28. That is a lot to pack for, but I think I can handle it.
Specifically, we will be traveling to the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Cairns. During this tour, we will play five very competitive games. One of the great things about this trip are all of the different experiences it will provide our student-athletes. Many of them do not get the opportunity to travel abroad during the school year, so this will give our team the opportunity to experience a foreign country and culture. Additionally, I believe this trip will also serve as a great team building experience. I know we all will get to know each other a lot better after traveling on a plane for about 24 hours each way. I think we all expect to have some great lifetime memories from this trip.
Well, Hawk Nation, I hope you are as excited as I am for this upcoming season, and you will continue to follow us on our first of many trips. I will do my best to keep everyone informed during our Australia trip. Hopefully, you will feel like you are a part of the team by getting a first-hand look at everything we are experiencing while we are Down Under. I will also be Tweeting from Down Under, so for up-to-date pictures, scores, and other happenings, follow me on Twitter: @AD_Goff_UHart.  
It’s almost time to take “Hawk Nation Domination” Down Under. Come fly with the Hawks (or just read my blog).  LOL!!!