Greetings from Saarbrucken
March 8, 2014
Today Michael will drive me to Frankfurt International to meet Mark our American offensive line coach. Mark will stay for a week and coach our kids and our young and inexperienced German line coach.
Michael gave us a little history on the drive back to Saarbrucken. The town is in the state of Saarland, the smallest state in Germany if you don’t count city states like Berlin and Hamburg. It is the state capitol. Our team is the Saarland Hurricanes named after the state, not the town. We are located five minutes from the French border. And the largest USA military base in Europe, Ramstein, is thirty minutes north on the autobahn.
Saarbrucken is situated at the heart of the Saar-Lor-Lux region. The city has about 180,000 inhabitants and is strongly influenced by its proximity to France. In fact it has been tossed back and forth from Germany to France several times before finally, in 1957, the people voted to be reunited with Germany in what was called the Kleine Wiedervereinigung or little reunification. The area was once dominated by the coal trade but now the manufacturing of steel has replaced coal as the dominate industry.
Practice went well but we needed to adjust a bit. We only had two wide receivers because of conflicts and injury so we basically played team offense with nine players. Harvey, the invisible rabbit, and his brother Harold played wide receiver’s on the weak side. Sometimes you just have to make the best of the situation. There are positives and negatives in nearly every situation in life for sure. I choose to emphasize the positive. Instead of bitching about our situation we chose to make lite of it and just play. We had fun with Harvey and Harold. After an incomplete pass I yelled to Alex, our very talented QB, “Harvey was open.” That got a large positive reaction from everyone. Winners win. Losers bitch.
Our kids continue to work hard and make no excuses. They want to learn so badly they listen with both ears and ask excellent questions. I really like working with players who care and strive to be the best they can be. It makes this job so much fun and it’s not a job at all. It’s my lifetime dream I’m still living forty-nine years after I began, in the little lumber town of Willamina, forty-five miles west of Portland, Oregon.
The game of American football here is Europe is the same game we play back home. We play NCAA rules on a 100 yard field. American football began in Europe shortly after the end of WWII on the military bases. It eventually spilled out to local communities and began to grow. Now, for example, there are over 400 teams in Germany alone, in five divisions. Here in Saarbrucken we play in the southern division of the German football leagues top league.
All sport in Europe is ‘Club Sport’, join a club and play. It’s a pay to play thing and makes a lot of sense to me. Our local players come from all walks of life. I’ve had doctors and lawyers play for me. I’ve had military kids, students and construction workers. We are allowed two American Import players on the field at a time so we have four on our team, two offensive players and two defensive. We would call it Semi-Pro as the Import players are paid, the locals are not. We practice three times a week in the evenings in preseason and two times a week during the season, which begins in April and finishes in September with the championship game between the participants from the Northern and Southern divisions.