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Archive for July, 2009

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Here are some pics of Alf graduating.  He had to present his research as his validation…

Alf getting his point accross during his presentation
Alf getting his point across during his presentation

Many Wild Boars in attendance for Alf's presentation and graduation
Many Wild Boars in attendance for Alf’s presentation and graduation.  Sadly, Stan and I were flying away from Serbia during the ceremony.

Alf with his parents
Alf with his parents after the presentation

Thanks to Laza for sending me the pictures.

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Here is a picture of my last meal in Serbia.  It is Cevap, which looks like sausage but is basically Serbian seasoned beef resembling sausage.  The meal came complete with 10 Cevap, tomatoes, cucumber, mustard, and a semi-spicy sauce.  Tasty.

Last meal....MEAT!!!
Last meal….MEAT!!!

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And I want to share some pics from my going away party.  I had a little get together the night before I left on July 9th at Caffe Caffe.  I got some really nice going away gifts from my teammates and friends; it was great to see everyone before I took off back to America.

Rasha, myself, and Enter
Rasha(rd) and Enter

Veljko Petrovich!!
Veljko Petrovich!!

Having one of those intense conversations with the Serbs
Having one of those intense conversations with the Serbs

Tomic and Ogi waving bye
Tomic and Ogi waving goodbye

Nina and Rasha, I have to thank Nina for graciously taking all the photos with her camera
Nina and Rasha(rd); thanks Nina for graciously taking all of these photos

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Quick Updates

  • First off, I’m home, back in Arizona.  Got in last Friday morning and stayed with my good friend Erik for a couple of days in Phoenix.  On Sunday I drove up to Pinetop where my parents live.  The ride was 3+ hours and about 300 km.  Pinetop is sooooooooo much cooler than Phoenix, about 20 degrees (F) or more.
  • Alf graduated!!!!  He graduated last Thursday with a degree in Biology & Ecology.  The unfortunate part was that I was on a plane to London as he recieved his degree.  I am trying to find a picture so I can put it up here on the blog.  I am also interested to see a Serbian college graduation.  From what they told me it is NOT like an American graduation.  The graduates do not wear a robe and hat, nor do they trot across a stage for a piece of paper that justifies 4+ years of class, maturity, and parties.  The Serbian graduates sit and wait for their name to be announced, signifying their graduation.

Alf graduated only 4 days after brining home the Serbian championship
Alf graduated only 4 days after bringing home the Serbian championship

  • Stan is now playing in Kouvola, Finland for the next 6-8 weeks.  A team there began speaking with him right after our Serbian championship and with the abrupt ending to our European season the timing worked out nicely for Stan and his new team, the Kouvola Indians.  He left last Thursday, the same day as I did, and played on Saturday (crazy, I know).  Although the Indians lost they put up 30 points within 2 days of Stan installing a new offense, the most points they have scored this season.  I wish Stan luck as he hopes to propel the Indians into the playoffs.

Stan sporting his new #7 uniform for the Indians (I stole the pic from Facebook).
Stan sporting his new #7 uniform for the Indians (Pic via Stan’s Facebook).

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Leaving Serbia

I went to bed at 4 AM, woke up at 6 AM, finished packing, showered, got dressed, and headed to Belgrade.  Aca and Koska picked me up with Filip there to wave goodbye as we departed my now “old” apartment in Kragujevac towards the airport in Belgrade.  We battled some traffic due to the Belgrade Universiade Games and the start of the Exit Festival in Novi Sad (just north of Belgrade).  By 1 PM I was airborn, watching Serbia shrink smaller and smaller in size, finally giving way to a collection of clouds.

It’s hard not to have mixed emotions about leaving.  Yes, I am excited to get back to America.  But, I am sad to leave my teammates, friends, and lifestyle in Serbia.  Everything has to end or else we wouldn’t move on.  Luckily my time in Serbia is ending on an extremely good and fullfilling note.

I want to share a list of things I will miss about life in Serbia, in no particular order:

  1. Playing football
  2. Mama, my favorite Serbian lady from the cafeteria
  3. Attempting to learn Serbian words by saying them incorrectly out loud 50 times
  4. Knjaz Milosh lemon mineral water
  5. Indeks sandwiches
  6. Serbian women
  7. Serbian girls
  8. The independence of the stray dogs
  9. Gypsies
  10. Learning about years and years Balkan history as I run with Zmija
  11. Lav pivo
  12. Saying Marko Vujanac’s name to Filip
  13. Addressing China by his full name, Veljko Petrovich
  14. Telling Veljko Petrovich to quit frontin’ when he is my hood
  15. Club China, a.k.a. inside Veljko Petrovich’s car
  16. Wrestling Alf after practice
  17. Being one of 2 Americans in a city of 200,000
  18. European chocolate & orange Tofita
  19. Talking Serbish (Serbian-English) to Tomic
  20. Being able to understand Tomic while speaking Serbish amongst each other
  21. Having to look the other person in the eyes when giving “cheers”
  22. Giving “cheers” everytime a new person joins a group or gets a new drink
  23. Outdoor caffes/caffeinas
  24. Giving away the tape on my wrists after winning a football game
  25. The hospitality of the Serbs in general
  26. All the good people I had the pleasure of knowing/interacting with

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I have mentioned before that Serbs LOVE to party and celebrate just about anything.  I mean, they celebrate the New Year twice in a span of 2 weeks.  Once for the traditional calendar year on January 1st and again for the Orthodox New Year on January 13th.  If it can be celebrated, the Serbs find a way to celebrate it.

Things got pretty rowdy after our victory on Sunday.  At night we visited Veljko’s grave before heading through town with a slew of cars honking, yelling, waving our WB flag, singing, chanting, and showing off the trophy in parade-type style.  The people throughout the city didn’t seem to mind, in fact the ones sitting at cafe’s probably ordered another drink on our account.

We made our usual stop at Balkan.  On hand was an accordian player which promoted singing the entire time by the Serbs.  I learned the traditional Serbian dance as we drank champagne out of the championship trophy and chanted some more inbetween songs.  Then 60 + people took to the streets, stopping traffic on one side of the road for close to a half-mile.  Songs and chants were well-recieved as random Serbs shouted with us, honked, flashed their lights, and nearly hit us while manuerving around the group.

We reached the end of the main street and came to a main 4-way stop near the big park in the city.  We finished off our shenanagins with our traditional post-game circle as Alf lead us through the cheer and breakdown, amidst 6 honking cars unable to turn left.

Some of the pictures I woke up with:

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Serbian Bowl Recap

UPDATE: click here to view them all 639 game photos

I’ll attempt to recap the festivities of yesterday’s game.  A lot happened so let’s hit the ground running…..

The game was advertised to start at 3 PM.  However, the actual kickoff time was not until 3:30 PM.  Our management made this strategic move to ensure a capacity crowd at kickoff.  Serbs are always late, usually about 15-20 minutes.  This was a smart move and worked out wonderfully.

Plenty of attractive women on hand for the championship game
Plenty of attractive women on hand for the championship game

Crowd control or Wild Boars fans?
Crowd control or Wild Boars fans?  I think the latter.

I mentioned a couple posts back about the vast amount of rain we have received.  Seriously, for two weeks we have gotten rain everyday.  It is similar to monsoon season in Arizona; strong, powerful winds and rain periodically during the day.  The sun hasn’t been out in full force the entire two weeks.  Up until yesterday that is.  The sky opened up and the sun showered the city and our field for the entire day.  It was great weather for a championship game.

We had hooligans.  No, not the crazy fighting soccer ones you hear about.  These guys are die-hard fans and/or junior players.  They had a big drum, painted bodies, and beer.  It was actually hard sometimes for me to hear the play calls from Stan because of the pounding of the big drum mixed with their chants.  It was awesome.  They gave us some home-field advantage as the Blue Dragons QB told me after the game that our crowd was by far the loudest they had played in front of.  We had great support.  Thanks fans!!!

Our crazy hooligan fan-base was loud all game
Our crazy hooligan fan-base was loud all game

1st Quarter

We receive the opening kickoff.  The Blue Dragons don’t kick deep to me, a common trend for the rest of the game.  Stan drives us down the field and Bunny, our young and quickly developed RB, takes a short pass for a TD.  We added the extra point, KGWB 7, Blue Dragons 0

Bunny breaking loose for the first TD of the game
Bunny breaking loose for the first TD of the game

The Blue Dragons answer, driving about 80 yards.  They convert on a 4th and 3 with a long run down to our 15-yard line.  They score on a short TD pass from their American QB John Russell to one their receivers.  We block the extra point, KGWB 7, Blue Dragons 6

Capitalizing on good field position from the kickoff, we again drive pretty quickly down the field into Blue Dragon territory.  On a play out an empty set, Stan hits a wide-open Bunny on the goal line for a 30-yard touchdown.  Extra point was good, KGWB 14, Blue Dragons 6

The Blue Dragons drive down the field again.  From about our 10-yard line Russell overthrows and I come up with a diving interception in the endzone for a touchback.  After a couple offensive plays I score from about 30-yards out on a fast screen.  I got some good blocks downfield from Alf and our left guard Djole, who cut the Blue Dragons free safety at about the 7-yard line.  Extra point was good, KGWB 21, Blue Dragons 6

Laying out for the interception in the endzone
Laying out for an interception in the endzone

2nd Quarter

The Blue Dragons utilize a strong ground attack and bully their way down the field.  Their fullback scores from 2 yards out on a dive play.  They go for 2 and convert, KGWB 21, Blue Dragons 14

It doesn’t take us long to score as Alf scores on a long 60+ yard swing pass on our first offensive play.  The extra point made it KGWB 28, Blue Dragons 14

Our defense comes up with a big 4th down stop on the next series, with the aid of a long dropped ball from one of the Blue Dragons receivers.  We score on a FREEZE play as the Blue Dragons defensive line is caught jumping offsides.  We decline the penalty as Tomic reels in the toss from Stan for the TD.  Extra point was good, KGWB 35, Blue Dragons 14

Tomic catching his first of 2 TD's on the day
Tomic catching the first of 2 TD’s on the day

On the next series Srcki, on of our cornerbacks, intercepts a long pass on our 30-yard line.  Again, it doesn’t take us long to score.  Tomic catches a seam for a looooooonnnnnng TD.  Although he catches the ball and fumbles as he turn to run, he picks up his fumble and rumbles the distance to the endzone, untouched.  Crazy play, but a TD nonetheless.  Extra point was good and at halftime it was KGWB 42, Blue Dragons 14

We had some nice halftime entertainment as Tribal (big supporter of the team and usually the photographer) performed live at halftime with Boneyard, a local rock band.  The live music was great.  On top of that we had cheerleaders perform.  We usually don’t have cheerleaders, so this was a treat for all.

Tribal peforming at halftime with a little help from Filip
Tribal performing at halftime with a little help from Filip

A nice addition to the halftime show
A nice addition to the halftime show if I do say so myself

3rd Quarter

Blue Dragons receive the kickoff and go back to utilizing their strong running game.  They move down the field and score on a short TD run.  They go for 2-points and I intercept a deflected pass by our DE Djura and take it about 100 yards for 2-points, KGWB 44, Blue Dragons 20

Taking a 2-point conversion the opposite way...for 2 points
Taking a 2-point conversion the opposite way…for 2 points

A couple plays go by on our next drive before Stan throws an interception on our side of the 50-yard line.  The Blue Dragons drive about 40 yards down to our 1-yard line.  After two consecutive stops they get into the endzone.  They added the extra point, KGWB 44, Blue Dragons 27

We start driving as time expires in the 3rd quarter.

4th Quarter

We continue our drive with a balance run and pass attack, trying to eat up some of the clock.  We put together a lengthy drive in which Stan finishes it off with two consecutive option runs, the second from about about five yards out for a TD.  We are aided on this drive by a personal foul call from one of the Blue Dragons linebackers.  The extra point attempt was good, KGWB 51, Blue Dragons 27

Blue Dragons return the kickoff past the 50-yard line for great starting field position.  Again, their ground game is giving us fits.  They score on another short run.  We block their extra point attempt and one our starting linebackers, Milan, returns it about 85-yards for 2-points, our second 2-point return of the day, KGWB 53, Blue Dragons 33

The running attack of the Blue Dragons was hard to stop all day
The running attack of the Blue Dragons was hard to stop all day

After a failed onside kick attempt, in which one of their players touches the ball before 10 yards, we take over at about the 40-yard line of the Blue Dragons.  About five plays into the drive Alf calls for a fake fast screen and go on our side of the field.  Stan listens and Alf sells the fake by yelling for the ball.  I am left wide-open after I fake my block for a 20-yard TD catch.  Extra point was good, KGWB 60, Blue Dragons 33

Stan lofted an easy TD catch to me as I "graciously" made sure not to drop it
Stan lofted an easy TD catch to me as I “graciously” made sure not to drop it

The Blue Dragons start their next series attempting a double-pass trick play to my side.  I read it well and intercept the pass.  A couple plays later Stan connects with Rasha on a fade for the last score of the game.  The extra point attempt was good, KGWB 67, Blue Dragons 33

Laza getting attacked with celebratory water as time ticked away in the game
Laza getting attacked with celebratory water as time ticked away on the clock

As Laza, Stan, and myself get doused with water the buzzer sounds with the final score KGWB 67, Belgrade Blue Dragons 33

After we shook hands with the Blue Dragons we lined up for some t-shirts.  I didn’t know what was going on but then I got a glimpse of the shirt; the shirts had Veljko’s picture on it and the phrase “Za Tebe,” which means “For You” in English.  Veljko was a coach on the 2008 Serbian Bowl Champion team.  He passed away 10 days after the 2008 Serbian Bowl in an automobile accident and the team dedicated the 2009 season to him.  It was a great surprise and definitely an emotional time for all of our guys.

Filip receiving his championship medal
Filip receiving his championship medal

We lined up to receive our championship medals and went one by one as the president of our league placed them around our necks.  From there our captains were handed the trophy and we completed our traditional circle cheer after a moment of silence for Veljko.  Then the long, extensive picture session began…

A shot of our team with medals and the championship trophy in tow
A shot of our team with medals and the championship trophy in tow

Holding up the trophy in celebration
Holding up the trophy in celebration

The defensive-backs getting some love with the trophy
The defensive-backs (+ Doc) getting some love with the trophy

The receivers and Stan
The receivers and Stan

Stan and I with Alf, the legend
Stan and I with Alf, the legend

My two "mentorees" Ivan and Igor.  These two youngsters have a bright future ahead of them.
My two “mentorees,” Ivan and Igor. These two youngsters have a bright future ahead of them.

L-R: Myself, Alf, Ogi, Stan, and Sima
L-R: Myself, Alf, Ogi, Stan, and Sima

Posing with the military man Koska
Posing with the military man Koska

Couldn't resist putting up this shot.  It just looks so good.
Couldn’t resist putting up this shot. It just looks so good.

These guys stripped Stan and I of just everything we had after the game; tape, socks, armbands, wristcoaches, etc.
These guys are part of a posse that stripped Stan and I of just about everything we had after the game like tape, socks, armbands, wristcoaches, etc.  You name it, they got it.

I’ll have some pictures and a little write-up about the celebration in the near future.  Also, I’ll get up all 639 pictures taken from the championship game when I can.  With Stan and I splitting the wireless it takes quite awhile to upload pictures.  They will be up soon, I promise.

I'll leave you with this photo: KGWB - 4 National Titles, the rest of Serbia - 1
I’ll leave you with this photo: KGWB – 4 National Titles, the rest of Serbia – 1

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We prevailed today in a burn-barner, pulling out the victory with a strong 67-33 performance against the Belgrade Blue Dragons.  We took a 42-14 lead into halftime and controlled the 2nd half adding three more touchdowns.  Stan threw for 8 TD’s today and ran for another.  I was on the receiving end of 2 of those TD passes and added 3 interceptions on the defensive side (one on a 2-point conversion, returning it for 2-points for our team).

It was a great day on so many levels.  Completing our season with the victory was tremendous, especially considering the troubles we had last week attempting to travel to Hungary.  Our guys hung in there and focused on this game so much.  It paid off!

Not too much time to update about the game in full, I mean I have some celebrating to do with my “braca,” or brothers.  Here are a couple pics to hold you over until tomorrow when I update fully:

The "official" team championship photo
The “official” team championship photo

The americans getting a pic with the hardware
The Americans getting a pic with the hardware

You can thank Sima for lifting me in the air for this picture
You can thank Sima for the spur of the moment lift in this picture

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News & Notes

Stan and I took the invite from our WR Tomic to visit his “HOOD,” Aerodrom (a.k.a Gangland, a.k.a The Hood, a.k.a. Scary Place).  Aerodrom translates to “Airport” in English.  It is an area of Kragujevac that lies about 7-10 minutes by car from the center and our apartment.  About 15 players on the team are from the area and it is the most populated sector of the city, as there are numerous high-rise communist style apartments housing an abundance of patrons.  Rumor has it that cops rarely venture to Aerodrom, about once every 3-4 months.  I guess Aerodrom has its nicknames for a reason.

We have only seen Aerodrom during the day and Tomic has continued to invite us to visit at night.  With our final days coming up in the not-so-distant future we complied and made our first OFFICIAL visit last night.

Our crew hanging out in the hood
Our crew hanging out in the hood

China picked Stan, Tomic, and myself up and we went to a local hangout in Aerodrom called La Costa (yes, a Spanish named cafe).  La Costa is a cocktail bar that had some live music when we showed up.  The local 3-member band was cranking out some older American hits like “Sweet Home Alabama.”  Pleasantly delightful.  After experiencing the tunes we walked for a bit around Aerodrom.  In reality, Gangland wasn’t all that intimidating.  As Tomic says, Aerodrom is “casual.”  Our experience validates that sentiment.

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Here is a video Tribal made before the start of our season.  The video is a tribute to a coach from the 2008 season, Veljko Makojevic, who died an automobile accident last July.  I have had every intention of putting it on the blog and I feel like today is the right time, the day before our season finale.  Although the script is in Serbian I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching it:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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This morning at around 10 AM we got up and headed toward the lake just north of the city.  We were scheduled to do an interview for the local television station “N.”  We waited around for about an hour to find out that their video equipment was not working so well.  Our group interview was to consist of Chaki (our team President), Laza, Stan, and myself, however, it was condensed – to just Chaki and me.

Is the camera on?  Just audio?  Technical difficulties?
Is the camera on? Just audio? Technical difficulties?

The interviewer asked me about my expectations for the upcoming championship game and living abroad in Serbia.  I threw in a line a about loving sarma (the rice and meat stuffed cabbage dish I enjoy), getting a positive reaction from the camerman.  I don’t when or if it will air on television or if it was strictly an audio interview (maybe the camera was just streaming audio??  who knows??).  Anyhow, it was a decent way to start the off the day and I hope it adds to the excitement for our championship game tomorrow afternoon.

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Can’t forget – Happy Birthday America! Today is July 4th, the celebration of America’s independence.  Thanks to facebook I have been reading up on everyone’s plans.  Most involve traveling, BBQing, and drinking.  I don’t want to lie, those sound like fantastic plans.  My family is up in northern Arizona camping for the weekend with friends.  I’m sure they are enjoying themselves.

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That’s about all I have for now.  Wait a second, got this picture today of Rasha’s sweet jacket at our walkthrough.  Spud Webb anyone?

Vintage NBA apparel is apt to show up anywhere, even in Serbia
Vintage NBA apparel is apt to show up anywhere, even in Serbia

I’ll be sure to update after the game tomorrow.  Cao!

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