Day 7: Adventure Day!
Terrapin senior defender Debbie Lieberman (Commack, N.Y.) continues her journal of the Maryland women's soccer team's trip to Europe to kick off the 2001 season. Here is her entries from Aug. 21, on which she had some help from teammates Audra Poulin, Carly Viher, Courtney Beirne and Dana Jarzyniecki.
Aug. 21, 2001
VALKENBURG, Germany - Day 7 (Aug. 21): The Adventure Day
Tuesday morning, we had a light training session including crosses, shots and runs in the box. After this, we showered and got ready for the day.
We boarded the bus, not knowing what we were about to experience, but nevertheless, we were excited and ready to have fun. After a 20-minute ride to Valkenburg, we arrived at a tiny little shack that was in the middle of cornfields. We thought we were supposed to be at a cave entrance, so when we arrived, we asked, "Where are the caves."
Confusion.... quickly settled as were guided towards the entrance where we ventured down 163 spiraling steps into the caves of Valkenburg to complete adventure No. 1, mountain biking.
We were greeted by our guides and were split up into two groups "Team Tom," led by Tom the tour guide and "Team FILA" led by Boy (aka Lad back home in the States).
The two teams split up going separate directions each determined to beat the other team. This activity helped build trust, communication, camaraderie, courage and fitness, while providing us one of the most exciting days of our lives.
How did it do all this you ask? Well, when mountain biking through a cold, dark, rocky, labyrinth-like cave, the only way to get through it is to come together as a team, work as a unit and communicate effectively.
"Team Tom" had a rough start with several heads brushing the ceiling, me ever-so gracefully falling off my bike and Tom being cautious, making sure we were all together. Once we got through, there was no stopping us. Communication echoed through the cave as we passed directions back from the front and up again. We pulled together strongly and made it successfully to the end.
Meanwhile, "Team Fila" saw "Team Tom" as competition and was determined to reach the finish line first. They also had a few kinks to work out along the way. Boy their tour guide went down first, while trying to tell the group a story about the trail. A few others followed. In order to improve team communication Boy also introduced the concept of verbally passing information from the front to the back of the line and back up again.
"Team Fila" had a little fun with this tool and decided to pass back everything Boy said, "Duck!" "Really, really low!" "Man down!" "Steve?" "Speed Up!" "Sharp Turn" "Bumpy" "Walk your bike through."
On our bike tourney, we had contact with two bats, learned of an earthquake that occurred three weeks prior to our visit. We also saw a Jewish star symbolizing the safety the Jews found in the caves during World War II.
Adventure No. 2: Repelling, Wall Climbing, Obstacle Course, and Walking in the Dark
Imagine standing over a dark hole 300 feet up from the ground and someone telling you to jump. That's basically what we experienced, although we were linked to a harness and spotted by our guide. For some, repelling was second nature. For others, it was a bit more difficult. People landed on their behinds, knocked into the wall of the well while we were repelling down and some burned their hands from holding too tightly. We were very proud of everyone for making it down the well, safely. This activity really showed team support. Everyone was cheering on everyone else.
Our next activity was wall climbing this tested our athleticism and tactics. Similar to repelling, some were naturals and others needed and extra boost to get up the wall. Overall this was a very fun and enjoyable part of adventure day.
Thirdly, the obstacle course created a challenge for our team. In order to complete the course one had to walk along a ledge, clipped to a safety string and also cross a plank bridge. Bravery and concentration were both tested with this event.
Finally, our senses were put to use when our tour guide left us in the cave in the pitch black. I couldn't even see the person in front of me. People freaked out. Some people found that they had a bigger fear of the dark then they though. Though this was scary, it was pretty hilarious.
While searching for the wall, with her hands, Audra hit Shannon in the face and felt her eyeball. Kim King walked into the wall. Katie Kruse froze and swung her backpack in front of her to find her way.
This expereince in the dark closed up adventure day.
Fun day comes to a close
Each game in this league is larger than the Super Bowl. Soccer is not just a sport in Europe, it is their way of life. Inside the huge arena, chanting is done non-stop and the players are equivalent to gods.
The game itself was great, FC Schalke 04 won the game 3-1 -- a victory for the home team. I wish soccer was as big in the United States as it is in Europe. I don't think Americans know what they are missing.