Happy Birthday Mac!!!

I want to wish my big brother, Captain Matthew Coyne, a very happy birthday today. Mac is currently in Afghanistan on his third tour and we’re anxiously awaiting his return. It’s been over a year since I’ve last seen my brother, so needless to say I’m beyond excited as his days overseas are winding down. I wish we could be spending his birthday together but he’ll be home soon enough. Wishing you a happy birthday brotha man and a safe return trip home!!
-Last summer in Watertown – obviously myself and Mac torturing Kaitlin
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My family’s visit to Toulouse

Been a busy few weeks of camp back here in the States but I am slowly catching up. This week I have 3 players and 2 fathers from Saint Oren’s staying with me. I’ll do a full post of there stay in New York next week. But having visitors in New York kind of gave me the incentive to finally do the post of when my parents and my sister, Kaitlin, came to visit me in Toulouse. Not only them, but my cousin Ben, from Wales also came to visit.

So they were all getting in the same day but Ben was getting in that afternoon, whereas the rest were getting in late that evening. I got a ride to the airport, found Ben, and then had to go rent a car so that my parents would have a means of transportation during their stay. Sure enough, despite reserving an automatic, they don’t have automatics (I don’t know how to drive stick). Great thing Ben had just arrived. He’s Welsh so he knew how to drive stick. HUGE help. Quick sidenote- I lived in Ireland for a year. And in that WHOLE year Ben never came over to visit me but I made it over to Wales to see him. I never let him live that down. Back to the story, I told him if he would drive then I would no longer give him a hard time about the Ireland thing. He agreed and we put that behind us.

My parents arrived that night and after stalling out only a couple dozen times, Ben and I made it to the airport. The next day it was time to take them into Toulouse to have lunch and see a few things. Fortunately for us, Ben brought the rainy, cold weather with him from Wales. Thanks Ben. Although the rain did stop just long enough for us to take a quick photo.
DSCN1778We had an amazing lunch at one of my favorite places in Toulouse. They couldn’t get over how amazing the food was and came to the agreement that we could just eat all of our meals at this restaurant. We sat outside the restaurant under an awning and next to a heater so we could still watch the street and try and take in Toulouse as best as possible. Just like in the movies, there was the guy walking around the streets playing French music on the accordion giving my family a proper experience in the south west of France. Obviously got a photo.
DSCF1014After a great lunch and a wet walk through town, we did the only logical thing and went to the pub. It was a must for me to take my family to De Danu, the most famous Irish pub in Toulouse. I figured it was cold and rainy, so if we go sit in a pub it will feel like I’m back in Galway again.
DSCN1795That evening was the final for our women’s second team. By the end of the season I was head coach of this team. They had already finished first which meant they would move up a division next year. However, now they were playing for champion of the region. The way this works is that you play the same team twice, once at their place, once at your place. Then the winner is whoever comes out on top of the difference of the two games. The week before we had gone to their place and TIED!! Can you believe that you can actually tie a basketball game in France?? I don’t know about all that. Anyways, now this game was really the championship. Our girls played an outstanding game, leading from start to finish to win the cup.
-My sister said it was funny seeing me coach and yell in French!
DSCN1803DSCN1814-Had to take a drink from the cup after
DSCF1033The next day was gameday for me as a player. My team was playing for the opportunity to move up to Pre-National next year. And that weekend was our first playoff game. It was a couple hours away against a team from the other pool. I was thrilled about the fact that my family would get to see me play again because it is something that I know my parents enjoy and something I take a lot of pride in.
DSCN1877-Fixing the pony tail
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In this game we led pretty much the whole way. I think we got our lead up as high as 15 or 20 points in the third quarter. However, they had a furious comeback in the 4th quarter eventually tying the game with about 15 seconds to go. We were working the ball around against their zone looking for a shot when I drove baseline and put up a floater with about 2 seconds left. I thought for sure it was good. Front rim. BUT my boy Benoit happened to be there for the putback at the buzzer and we won by 2!!! It was not only a great win for us, but awesome that my family and all of our fans who made the long drive got to see such a great game.
DSCN1886Aside from the basketball, my family had a great time at the game anyway. Maybe it was because they were a little tipsy from their “French style tailgate” at halftime.
-Cheese, bread, and wine at halftime!!DSCF1082DSCF1081With the win of this game, we were headed to the final for our chance to move up a division next year. Factor in that it was a buzzer beater win. My sister and cousin were there. It was Saturday night. We were HYPED and ready to go out and celebrate.

My two teammates Manu and Jean-Ma came out with us (as per usual) as well as a few of Manu’s friends and some of the players from our women’s team. Suffice it to say we had a solid crew for the night. And a solid night it turned out to be. The night started off slow at a rhum bar we frequented on a regular basis to kick things off. I told my sister and cousin that nights out in Toulouse go for a long time….like until 8 or 9am.  They weren’t sure that they were ready for this. So as we were all chillin, sipping some fine Martinique rhum, keeping things low key, they kept looking at the clock and were like “Damn, this is going to be a long night.” I kept saying, “Just wait.”
-At the rhum bar (or the calm before the storm!)
DSCN1890-Ben couldn’t get over how tall Jean-Ma was
DSCF1098-Things then escalated pretty quick, as we knocked back a few rounds of really strong rhum and then headed to the club…Ben started mixing it up right away!
DSCN1896-This is probably the one that did Kaitlin in
DSCF1119-Solid crew
DSCF1117-Ben again with Jean-Ma, and being tall, and yea…
DSCF1125-The crew again, when we left. Kaitlin and Ben (pretty banged up at this point) just kept going on about how they couldn’t believe that it was light out, how it was already morning, and how they can’t believe how fast the time went and how much fun they had and all that. I was just like, “Hey, I tried to tell you!”
DSCN1926And so ended an awesome weekend in Toulouse with friends and family. Ben headed back to Wales on Monday and my family spent a couple more low key days in Toulouse. We went down to see the shrine at Lourdes.
IMG_2155-I made Kaitlin come to my fitness class. That’s a great burpee by the way Kaitlin!!
IMG_2168-And on our last night, there was one last requirement for my family before they headed off to Paris. They had to eat FROGS LEGS!!!
IMG_2150It was an absolute pleasure for me to have my family come visit me in Toulouse. It was great that they were able to come over, see where I was living, what I was doing, everything that I was a part of, and allowed me to take great pride in not only where I was, but being able to introduce everybody in France to my family! Thanks for coming out guys. It was a blast!!

Tim Basket Tour

Ok, so I’ve been really bad about updating this over the last couple months but oh well. Get over it. Like I said, I will finish catching up with my posts even if they’re two months late.

The next post that I would like to do is about the weekend in May where a U13 team from old club in Ireland, the Galway Titans, came out to Toulouse for a tournament with my new club in France. Throughout the course of the year I had been in talks with the Titans about the possibility of bringing a team out for a tournament or a couple games or whatever. I was really excited about the idea of forming a relationship between my two European basketball clubs. It wasn’t until the last third or so of my time in France that the idea finally came to fruition. A huge thanks to Joe Coughlan and Simone Kiernan of the Titans for helping to put together a team and organize flights. And on the French side a HUGE thanks to everyone on our board and all the parents and coaches who helped to coordinate an awesome weekend in Toulouse for our Irish friends.

Before I go any further, I should mention that my friend, fellow American, and Titan, Brendan Barile, did a great post about the weekend in Toulouse on his own blog, Eire Brendan. The post is titled “We’re Going to Toulouse, but We’re Not Going to Lose.” Clever name if you ask me. (click on the link to see his post). He did his post way back in May right after the weekend so he was a bit more punctual than me, but whatever. He went to a fancy prep school in New York City with rich kids from the Upper East Side and I guess they preach things like that down there. Psh.

Anyway, I got back from Paris Thursday night, and was up Friday morning with a few parents heading out to Carcassonne to pick up our Irish guests. We packed a lunch for their arrival and figured we should show them the medieval city of Carcassonne before heading to Toulouse. It was also my first time in Carcassonne and the city wasn’t really a city as much as it was a castle. But it was awesome.
-Myself and Brendan with the Irish kids
IMG_5092-Then Brendan and I with our Irish little brother Joseph (obviously I had to rock my Titans shirt for their arrival)
IMG_5097-The boys were having fun walking around the top of the castle and giving the couple mothers who came with the team, as well as the French parents, a few heart attacks!!
IMG_5109So we drove the hour or so back from Carcassonne to Toulouse and went straight to the gym. That evening we had a little meet and greet, for lack of a better term, for the U13 St. Oren’s team and the Titans. Despite the kids not speaking the same language, they had a blast together. We mixed together all the players, and even had some players from my U13 girls team participate, and we just played some small-sided 4 on 4 games.
-Obviously we had to start off with a couple games of knockout, or “Lukey Luke” as they call it in France. Still no idea why they call it that but thats the French I guess!!
IMG_5118-Then Joseph started talking trash to Sam, one of our French players, and next thing you know the two of them get into a 3 point contest! (Sam is 13, Joseph is only 9 for what its worth)
IMG_5162IMG_5163After the little training session we hung out at the gym for a little bit longer. The kids had some snacks and the parents drank, at which point I introduced Brendan to the term “apero” which pretty much means “Let’s drink” in French. He became a big fan of the “Apero.” A bunch of the French parents were there for two reasons. 1. The Irish kids were staying in the homes of some of our French families. 2. They had never brought in a foreign team like this before so it was a great experience for everyone!

Now I wasn’t sure how this was all going to work out with the kids staying in the homes of the French families, seeing as how I THOUGHT most of the parents didn’t speak English. I was wrong. All season they would be speaking French with me. Like 2 fathers spoke English with me and everyone else spoke French. Next thing you know more than half the parents are conversing in English or at least broken English with the kids. I was like, “WHERE WAS THIS ALL YEAR?!?!?!” I was out here for about 9-10 months at this point struggling through conversations with these people and NOW they decide to bust out the English. Unreal. Anyway, it was great for the kids, and definitely made things easier. So we sent two kids off to each home with one French family. I had Brendan and my little man, Joseph, staying with me, which was awesome.
-The boys hanging out having some drinks. Jameson for the Americans and Coke for the little guy, but he loved being “one of the guys.”
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The next day was the tournament. We were supposed to have a team from Spain come up but that fell through at the last minute, so we improvised. We made two teams out of the St. Oren’s players, plus the Titans, and one other club from Toulouse, Pamiers.

Up until this point, I had worked to help organize the tournament and all that, but didn’t know that there was an actual name for the tournament. I knew there would be t-shirts and trophies, but I had no idea what would be on them. Saturday morning I found out when I was handed the schedule of games.
photo-56They named the tournament after me!!! And I don’t care what Brendan says or believes…I had NOTHING to do with that and literally had NO idea they did that!! But it’s definitely up there with the times that I’ve felt the most honored.
-They even put it on the t-shirts!
photo-57Honest to God I had NO idea!

Back to Saturday morning. The 4 teams were warming up getting ready to play and the gym was buzzing. We had music going, people taking photos, English and French being shouted around the gym, basketballs bouncing…it was AWESOME. The best part about it all was that I didn’t have to coach, ref, or really do anything. I kind of got to just oversee everything and translate when necessary. It was a great relaxing day for me. I wish I could say the same for Brendan. He was stressing out a bit, especially as he saw the French kids warming up. He was worried how his younger, smaller, Irish squad would fare. Despite his worries the boys played their hearts out and definitely impressed everyone in the gym with their toughness and fighting Irish spirit.
-Coach Barile and his boys
IMG_5195-The Pamiers squad, who, by the way, had a set of twins that were BALLERS
IMG_5196-One St. O team
IMG_5200-The other St. O squad
IMG_5198IMG_5226IMG_5225It was a great day of hoops complete with a skills challenge and everything!
IMG_5270One of the twins from Pamiers came home with the chip, but the black St. O team won it all!
-As they hoist the first annual Tim Basket Tour cup!!! haha I still can’t get over that!
IMG_5329IMG_5268I should backtrack really quick and mention that we had about an hour or so break at lunch time. A couple parents helped to prepare a nice lunch for all the teams. However, as lunch was being prepared, the Irish kids had to hop in cars as we had to run up the street really quick for an even at the town hall. The mayor and the town wanted to welcome the Irish team to Saint Orens. They were greeted with a marching band and I’m not kidding at all!!
IMG_5257-With the mayor
IMG_5263Once the tournament was finished we had food for everyone and once again, an apero for the adults. While the adults chatted in English and French, the kids all headed outside to play on the outdoor courts. They couldn’t get enough hoops! Not to mention the Irish kids loved the opportunity to be able to play outside without some rain!!
IMG_5331When all the festivities were over, the kids went back to their respective houses to shower up. Then one family invited everyone to their home for a little party which was a ton of fun. Once again I was blown away at how much fun the kids were having with each other despite the language barrier. It just goes to show that not just basketball, but laughter and fun, can serve as universal languages!

The next morning we held a little mini-camp for the St. O players (including some of my older U15 players) and the Titans, run by myself, Brendan, and Celine, the U13 boys coach of St. O. It was a fun morning where we ran a bunch of drills, got the kids working hard and TOGETHER, and finished up with some games.
IMG_5336IMG_5345-Joseph trying to take on my tallest U15 player(he’s like 6’4)….fearless!
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IMG_5361I should also mention that this weekend was a real challenge for me, especially when I had both French and Irish teams together. It was the first time I had to effectively coach in both English AND French! I would explain something in French. Then have to turn around and explain it again in English. Then I would go to say something to a French player and be saying it in English. Then I would turn to an Irish player and say something in French. I was so confused!!!! But it was a great experience and definitely gave the kids a laugh!
-After the training all the players exchanged gifts from their respective countries/clubs
IMG_5371And after all this it was time to take the boys into the city of Toulouse and show them around a bit.
IMG_5376Since we were in the city, I gave my teammate, Jean-Ma, a call and asked him to come meet us. I figured the boys would get a big kick out of meeting my 6’8 teammate. We told them that he played for the French national team and all that but they weren’t nearly as impressed with that as they were with the fact that he looks like Will Smith. They just kept saying how he looked like Fresh Prince and called him “Will” all day. Jean-Ma was a great sport about it!
IMG_5381Then it was one more night in Toulouse, with an apero back at the gym, then Monday it was back to Ireland for the boys. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing of a weekend it was for everyone involved. I kept thanking everyone in St. Orens for being so great to my Irish club and they kept telling me to stop saying thanks because it was such a pleasure for them as well. Needless to say we’ve started a new tradition and established a great relationship that is sure to carry on for years to come!! And since it’s now MY tournament, I guess I need to keep going back to France for it!!

Paris

Catch up time. Over the next few days I’ll be catching up on the last month and a half or so, including Paris, Barcelona, the end of the season in Toulouse, an awesome stop over in Ireland, and finally my trip back to New York.

First I’ll start with Paris. So back around the beginning of May I took a trip to Paris, one of the places that I was determined to visit before I left Toulouse. I mean I was in France. How could I go to France and not visit Paris? As far as a lot of people back here in the States are concerned, there is nothing in France besides Paris.

I had heard from plenty of people how great Paris is, although a lot of people in the Southwest of France did not speak very highly of it. They prefer their slower, laid back style of life. They spoke of how rude the Parisians were and this and that. Much like people from the South/other parts of the U.S. speak of New Yorkers. So I didn’t take that too much to heart. Nonetheless, I did feel when I was going to Paris that I was going just to go. I honestly had low expectations for my visit. I was wrong.

Paris was AWESOME! From the moment I arrived until the moment I left I was thoroughly impressed and amazed at the city. I was also fortunate enough to have an awesome tour guide in my good friend, Ryad. I actually met Ryad last year when I went to Biarritz for a tournament with our U18 girls team from Galway whom I was coaching (the same weekend I met Philippe and my whole adventure to Toulouse ultimately began). Ryad is also the one who had a “Welcome to Toulouse, American style BBQ” for me the week I arrived in Toulouse. Not long after that he had moved up to Paris for work. Fortunately for me, as I was planning my trip to Paris, I spoke with Ryad and not only was he happy to host me, but he was actually off work the few days I would be there. Excellent.

I took an early flight from Toulouse Tuesday morning getting into Paris a couple hours later. Ryad met me at the bus stop and so my tour began. First things first. I needed to use the toilet. I asked Ryad “Where do you think I can piss?” “The bar,” he responded. And so it went. What better way to start off the day in Paris then a casual beer at noon in the bar after which Ryad gave me the quote for the trip “It’s always a good time for a beer.”

We made our way to his apartment in the west of Paris so I could drop off my bag. As a typical American tourist, I felt in a bit of a rush as I knew there were so many things to see and I only had a few days. Ryad, however, true to his southern French culture, couldn’t have been more relaxed and was thrilled to take his time getting out there to see the sights. I’m thrilled that he did that. His laid back mentality is what truly helped me to enjoy Paris as much as I did.

That first day after stopping at his apartment, we headed over to see the Notre Dame Cathedral.
IMG_4829It was as impressive as I had heard/expected. Next we went for a walk along the Seine,
IMG_4834IMG_4836to see some of the bridges, and the beautiful Parisian architecture as we headed over to the Latin Quartier to grab some food (and beers of course). The Latin Quartier was a great section of the city with bustling streets and bars and restaurants full of life.
IMG_4841After sitting down and enjoying a good meal, it was time to head back out and walk along the Seine through the middle of Paris once again. What did we end up seeing right away??
IMG_4851GALWAY IRISH PUB!!!! I couldn’t believe it. Ryad knew that I had lived in Galway, Ireland last year and insisted that we go in for a point. Didn’t take much convincing for me.

After the pub, we continued walking a bit, crossed the Seine, and next thing you know we found ourselves at the Louvre. This was an incredible place. We didn’t go inside to see the museum until a couple days after but it was so genuinely impressive from the outside.
IMG_4884It was particularly impressive when you take a step back and realize this used to be a castle for one king. This massive structure was technically built for one dude. You joking me? But also, as we were walking through and talking about how old it was, how old the Notre Dame Cathedral was, like so many things in Paris, Ryad said to me, “It’s when I look at things like this that I think about how small I am in the history of things.” That really was a crazy thought and so true, especially for an American, with how young our country in in comparison to these other places around the world.

So we kept walking out in front of the Louvre and we were just chatting away as Ryad casually said to me, “Well here is where you can see her for the first time.” I had no idea what he was talking about. Was he setting me up on a blind date or something with a French girl or what? But no. He was talking about the Eiffel Tower. I soon found out that it’s a “she”.
IMG_4886That was my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. Next we hopped on a bus to head over to the Place de L’Opera and saw the National Academy of Music…once again another extremely impressive part of the city.
IMG_4887We stopped in this area to grab a beer again. Then continued walking and down the Rue de la Paix, I believe, and saw a lot of the really expensive shops and whatnot before heading out to the Rue de Rivoli and the big park out there with yet again another great view of the Eiffel Tower. IMG_4902So at this point, we had already had a pretty full day. We had walked a bunch, seen a bunch and grabbed a few beers. It was time for dinner. We met up with Ryad’s girlfriend to grab dinner at a place that was supposed to be “The Best Burger in Paris.” They were thrilled to have me there with them so that a “real American” could really tell them if the burger was that good. They were. In fact, the burgers were out of this world.
IMG_4923Now, when we had gone inside to eat, the sun was still up. After dinner it was dusk. Not quite dark but the sun had begun to go down. And at this point it was crazy to me and I literally thought I was in a movie. It was like a silence fell over the city. The hustle and bustle and noises of the day were finished, the streets and sidewalks had emptied out. But a lot of the restaurants and sidewalk cafes were all full, but silent. It was at this point, not to sound corny or anything, that I finally realized how Paris can be made out to be some romantic city.
IMG_4925After the big dinner and the fact that it was a nice, warm and calm evening, we decided to continue walking a bit. Also, I had heard that I needed to see Notre Dame at night. I saw it as it was getting dark…
IMG_4931and then after it was really dark and lit up.
IMG_4938It was after this that the streets and the city started to come back to life a bit.
IMG_4943Naturally we went for one more drink before it was time to call it a night. Excellent first day in Paris.

Given the fact that my flight to Paris was early Tuesday morning, the really long day Tuesday, and the fact that Ryad actually had something to do in the morning, Wednesday was a day where I caught up on some sleep. Not to mention, I felt much more at ease at the fact that I had seen so many things on Tuesday and realized that I definitely had plenty of time and would see everything I wanted to see. So Wednesday I chilled for most the day at Ryad’s and even helped him put together a bit of newly purchased furniture from Ikea.

What I should also mention is the fact that Ryad insisted we go see Sacre Couer (Sacred Heart) and the Eiffel Tower Wednesday evening. I had looked at the forecast and saw it was supposed to rain on Wednesday but he insisted that it would be best if we did it that day and for me not to worry the weather will be fine. Sure enough I wake up and it’s pouring. I was not happy. However, after an hour or so, the weather completely cleared up and it ended up being a beautiful afternoon/evening. Once again, I should have had faith in Ryad.

So we headed out to Sacre Couer which was amazing.
IMG_4951The stairs were a nice little challenge but well worth the view once you got to the top.
IMG_4954IMG_4964And when you walk around to the side you get get a little view of the Eiffel Tower.
IMG_4966From the time I got to Paris, Ryad had kept telling me that it was much better to see the Eiffel Tower at night. I had to admit I thought it was pretty cool during the day. But, once again, he was right.
IMG_4969It was imperative to walk down under the Tower, or “look up her skirt” as Ryad put it (remember the Eiffel Tower is a she).
IMG_4984This was the second time I felt like I was in a movie. I couldn’t believe that I was actually in Paris, France looking right up at the Eiffel Tower. I mean I had spent the last 2 years now living in Europe, but STILL I was so genuinely impressed by what I was seeing and where I was. You can ask Ryad, I just kept laughing to myself and shaking my head because I couldn’t believe it all.

So we passed through to the other side, where there was a huge park that was full of people enjoying the fantastic view. There were groups of college kids partying it up and listening to music, while there were couples sitting enjoying bottles of wine, and old couples just sitting on benches taking in the view and each other’s company. Once again it was a hell of a sight to see. We continued walking through the park and I wasn’t sure where we were going. But once I figured we had walked far enough into the park I asked Ryad if maybe we should turn around. “No, I want to show you something.” It was a basketball court. With the Eiffel Tower perfectly situated behind the backboard. “NO WAY DUDE!” I’m pretty sure that was my response.
IMG_4992There were a couple guys there with a basketball. Ryad told me to give him my camera, go take the ball and he’ll take photos of me ballin in front of the Eiffel Tower. I was hesitant but then he yelled at me, so I obliged. He took a couple photos of me shooting in front, some of which didn’t come out too good, but if you’re friends with me on Facebook, then you’ve seen my cover photo and this is the one that I thought came out best.
IMG_4994Awesome photo. After the Eiffel Tower it was time to head over and see “The greatest street in the world” according to Ryad. Champs-Elysées. This, too, was an impressive place.
IMG_5007IMG_5005That concluded my second day in Paris. Now it was on to my 3rd and final day. I was flying out Thursday evening and the only thing left that I really had wanted to see was the Louvre. So we headed to the Louvre Thursday morning to give ourselves enough time to see as much as we wanted to see. Keep in mind, the Louvre is HUGE and you really can spend hours in there.
IMG_5087I took tons of photos but theres no need to share all of them on here. Just a couple of the more famous ones like the Mona Lisa…
IMG_5051Venus de Milo…
IMG_5082And a painting of what appeared to be John Belushi in Animal House…
IMG_5050All in all an absolutely fantastic trip to Paris and I couldn’t be happier about the fact that I decided to go before I came back to the States. If I do end up back in Toulouse again next year I will certainly be heading back to Paris. I would also like to say a HUGE thank you again to Ryad for being such a generous host in showing me around and letting me crash in his apartment. Thanks a lot brotha and hopefully I’ll see you again soon. Finally, if anyone is on the fence about going to Paris, I 100% advise you to go. It’s a gorgeous city full of life, culture, and history well worth seeing.

Happy Birthday Dave!!

I’d like to take a moment to wish my main man, Dave O’Neill aka Silky D, a very happy birthday back home in New York. Dave is from Binghamton but now rocks New York City harder than anybody I know. Not only is Dave a great friend of mine, awesome, and a great American…..but Dave is/was/always will be one of the most avid supporters of The Official Tim Coyne Fan Club. It was his fansmanship that earned him “2012 Tim Coyne Fan of the Year” by the OTCFC president, Jim Frawley in the 2013 OTCFC calendar that has only been released to limited people. (I apologize for not sharing that with you all, but I do promise to catch up with it.)
SilkyAnd Dave is SO cool that he even can manage to get photobombed by the New York Rangers zamboni driver!!!
photo-3And when he’s not too busy being awesome, he’s just being a great American by serving as a fantastic role model for the youth.
silkyddGreat guy that Dave O’Neill!! Happy birthday my brotha!! See you in a couple weeks!!

Stade Toulousain

Ok. I have a ton of catching up to do on here with the ongoings of the past month. I’m waiting on photos to do a post of the last game of the regular season, so in the mean time I’ll skip to something I did just after that.

A couple months ago I was talking with my man, Jean-Louis. He’s one of the parents of the U17 boys team in St. Oren’s. He’s EASILY one of the biggest characters in the club, not to mention a real standup guy. He had been asking me how much I’ve seen of Toulouse and if I’ve been to this place or that place. I informed him that I’d seen my fair share of Toulouse and have been around to plenty of pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants. Regardless of what I’d seen or not seen, he insisted on taking me out to lunch to a restaurant owned by one of the current Stade Toulousain rugby players, William Servat. He told me how he was a former cop in Toulouse (only retired 2 months ago) and how he knew a lot of bar and restaurant owners, Servat being one of them.

Sure enough, we went to the restaurant on a Monday afternoon, had a couple beers before ordering our lunch (as you would on a Monday afternoon in the south of France), and then ordered a HUGE steak lunch. At this point, William Servat showed up at the restaurant, and, true to his word, Jean-Louis was indeed friends with him. I was able to get a quick photo with him as we joked around a bit in both English and French.
IMG_4767After the photo, Jean-Louis commented how normally when he sees me on the basketball court, although short, I am one of the stronger guys on the court…and how standing next to Servat, I looked “tiny” so to speak. I couldn’t disagree with that. The guy is an animal.

So Jean-Louis and I finished our lunch. With a bottle of red wine obviously. Then came an awesome tray of desserts. I don’t mean like a tray where you choose a dessert. I mean like a small tray of assorted desserts for each of us, plus an espresso. It was awesome, including the piece of cake that I ate that I’m pretty sure had been soaking in Martinique rum for about 2 years. I think I was sober before dessert and then after the cake I’m pretty sure I was hammered. Not to mention the after lunch “digestif” of some apple liquor. Gotta love France. Go grab lunch at noon on a Monday afternoon and by 2:30 you’ve met a famous rugby player and you’re bombed.

Anyway, after lunch Jean-Louis insisted on bringing me out to the Stade Toulousain stadium/training complex. This was fine by me. I had been to one Stade Toulousain game but figured seeing a training or some of the players would be pretty cool. Apparently we got there early for their training so we walked around the complex a bit. I even went down onto their training field to get a little CrossFit in and flip some tires.
IMG_4783Eventually we wandered over to the actual stadium…
IMG_4775We probably weren’t supposed to be in there but that didn’t stop us. Especially when we went in downstairs to check out the clubhouse and locker room areas….Yea that says entree is strictly reserved for players and coaches…We went in anyway.
IMG_4779Afterwards, the players all started showing up for their training. What I found pretty cool is that Peugeot is a sponsor of the club, and as a result, pretty much the whole team drives some variation of a white Peugeot.
IMG_4790I ended up meeting about 19 players and I got pictures with all of them, but there’s really no need to put all of them on here..just a couple noteworthy.

-This guy was great. Timoci Matanavou. (pretty sure that’s my name, Timothy, in Fijian). So yea, he’s from Fiji and as you can see, I’m wearing an Under Armour shirt. First thing he does, he points to my shirt, and says, “C’est mon sponsor.” That’s my sponsor. I thought that was kinda cool.
IMG_4785-Argentinian. Patricio Albacete. Might be the biggest man I’ve ever met.
IMG_4789-Census Johnston. Cousin of Sione Pouha of the New York Jets. That’s not true at all. But maybe if the Jets recruited some Stade Toulousain players they’d have a legit shot at the playoffs.
IMG_4799-Yannick Nyanga. Pretty sure this guy is the French rugby equivalent of Adrian Peterson.
IMG_4788…or a long lost twin brother of Galway Titan Andre Tongo.
photo-54Ok, so like I said there are plenty of other photos with players but this is the last one I’ll show because it’s actually kind of a big deal. This last one is with Thierry Dusautoir. Captain of the French national team. That’s cool. I don’t even care if you don’t like rugby. France is a top rugby team and this is their captain. This was pretty cool.
IMG_4798-I mean the guy’s nickname is the “Black Destroyer” and he’s got his own Nike poster.
IMG_4778All in all it was an awesome day and definitely one of the top experiences that has made this year in Toulouse. Thanks again Jean-Louis for being an awesome host and showing plenty of genuine Toulousain hospitality!!