Fryer Tuck didn’t have it this good…..
Monday March 11, 2013 Prague, Czech Republic
Our team camp was held about a forty five minute drive into the countryside east of Prague. The field was a very large soccer complex but without football yard lines. A soccer field is considerably wider than is a football field so our spacing became an issue. Other than that it was nicely artificial turfed and what looked and felt to me recently new. All the players commented about how much better it was than our regular practice field.
We were housed in an old monastery in the city of Cerveny Kostelec located in the Hradec Kralove Region just east of Prague. The town’s church is now painted red, representing the fire, which engulfed it in the 17th century, and gave the town its name; červený, meaning red. I’m not sure exactly how old it is but the doors to the rooms were about five foot two in height. Instantly my fertile mind envisioned Fryer Tuck walking around the grounds in his comfortable robes, snacking on a leg of mutton and not having to duck while either entering or leaving his Spartan room. The rooms were clean and nice actually, which wasn’t a surprise. The bathroom was large and like many times in Europe the shower had no partition. The floor simply sloped in that direction and the water relied on gravitational pull to make its way to the drain. Simple.
After Thursday nights practice the entire team visited a local establishment for after practice libation and food. Apparently someone forgot to tell them how many football players would be in attendance and the two overworked waiters, to be kind, were overwhelmed. But that didn’t keep the troop from enjoying a fun if rowdy evening and that would include all the coaching staff. Although we were the last to be served. After the first night I didn’t join in the fun and if the stories of late night hijinks were even close to true it was a good decision.
The old monastery renovation began in 1994 just a few years after the end of communist rule in the Czech Republic when it seems nearly all historic buildings were allowed to fall into disrepair and nearly everything was grey. The cobblestone streets in this small town as well as those leading into and out of the monastery itself conjure up visions of Robin Hood chasing Maid Marion through the nooks and cranny’s of the structure. There is a lot of work to do but I believe the finished product will return well earned, I’m sure, long lost glory to the edifice.
I’m not sure the regular inhabitant’s of the monastery were very comfortable with eighty or so football players descending upon them. During meal times, when we shared the dining room with them they looked a bit overwhelmed by the size and enthusiasm of our group of testosterone driven football players. The players delighted in playing paper/rock/scissors to see who would ‘buss’ the table. I’m sure some of the local workers will schedule their vacation during the first full weekend in March next year.
The nocturnal activity didn’t seem to affect how we practiced however. The only thing I noticed was that the beginning warm up lap got a bit slower as the weekend progressed. For those few 300+ pounder offensive lineman the lap must have looked and felt like a mile.
The weather was, well football weather. Cold and foggy the first two days followed by rain and more cold most on the weekend. Although, it did clear a bit on Sunday afternoon for our last practice. But all in all it was a very productive four days and we managed to get in seven two hour practices.
Coach Dan seemed to be a little but upset that we didn’t have more ‘meetings’. He’s a really good guy and I think knows a lot about American football, but he is a product of the system. More is always better and that includes meetings and video study and all the other things that have become expected of football programs. As most of you know I’m not in that mold. At lunch one day I said to the group of coaches and American players sitting at our table, “Just in case you haven’t noticed I’m not your rubber stamp football coach clone.” One of the guys answered with, “Coach I believe you are one of a kind.” I took that as a compliment. Our QB said, “I can’t even count the number of worthless meetings I attended in four years of college.” As he spoke our second American was smiling and nodding in agreement.” I rest my case.
I think our group is coming together nicely and in my opinion we will field a competitive team. Of course time will tell as we’ve got thirteen days before starting the season in Vienna at my old home field, the Hohe Warte. I know one thing for sure, after the game the beer will be flowing in the end zone and I’ll be enjoying the occasion, with most of my old Vienna Viking players. Thank you.