Friday evening I met Vincent, who, like myself, will be assisting Philippe in coaching the St. Oren’s women’s team. Myself, Vincent, and Philippe had a little bit of food before going to meet the women’s team and get on the road to Bordeaux for the weekend. We met the women at a rest stop near the highway. Meeting time was 6:15. Around 6:45 everybody was there. What was funny to me was that as myself and the other two coaches were sitting there with two of our players waiting (on time), I guess the players realized that the rest of the team would be really late so they promptly went and grabbed a few cold beers from the back seat of the car. So that was my introduction to the women’s team- sitting on the side of the highway enjoying a San Miguel.
So once everyone arrived we hit the road for the couple hour drive from Toulouse to Bordeaux. We went straight to one of the gyms of the team, Coteaux de Garonne, who was hosting the tournament. They had a great facility and it was a pleasure watching two of their teams train. Jerome, a friend of Philippe’s, who helped to organize the tournament coaches the U17 team who last year lost in the French National Championship. They are an extremely talented, hard-working team and Jerome is a phenomenal coach.
After the trainings finished, our women’s team had brought several bottles out there…whiskey, rum, vodka, etc. We sat around as a team, players and coaches, having a couple drinks and talking. Or should I say they were talking and I was pretty much just sitting there, until a few of the players warmed up to me and began speaking in whatever English they had, which was actually very impressive. Then our hosts put out a big spread of food for us as well as offered some more drinks. I ended up making my way back onto the court for a couple games on one-on-one against Jerome’s 10 year old son. Then, Gaetan, coach of the U15 club (last year’s U14 French National Champs!), challenged me to a couple games of one-on-one, which is always fun after a few drinks!
After we finished at the gym, the women wanted to go to a local carnival-type thing where there were bumper cars. It was actually hilarious. Everyone was like little kids in the bumper cars and kept wanting to go again and again. One of our players even dragged me into the car. Definitely a great team-bonding experience.
-This photo attempt clearly ended in a pile-on
Once we left the carnival and everyone had their fun, plus the team had to get to bed, as it was already 12:30 and they had 2 games the following day, we went to check into the hotel. I figured we were calling it a night, but no. Philippe said that Jerome had invited the coaches to his house for a drink. Sure. So we went to Jerome’s beautiful house on the outskirts of Bordeaux and he pulled out some nice scoth and rum for his guests. So myself, Philippe, Vincent, Jerome, Gaetan, Jerome’s daughter and a few others sat around talking basketball in a mix of English and French. Jerome recently was at the London Olympics and got to see Team USA so I had a chance to look through some awesome photos. Then a heated debate ensued between Philippe and Jerome over the issue of full court defense. For the most part I had no idea what they were saying, as they were talking very colorfully and passionately in French, only stopping occasionally to fill me in on the debate. Jerome also motioned to me several times during the debate as him and myself had a talk about how much we love full court defense and try to teach that to our players. It was hilarious to me to see two great friends go at it like that and even continue the debate to until we got in the car. It really was very funny.
-Jerome, myself, and Gaetan (mid-debate)
Saturday morning we were up and at it getting ready for our first game of the day. Show up to the gym at 10 for an 11am game. Nobody is there. Nobody shows up until 10:30. Since Philippe had asked me to do the warm up with the women, I was starting to get nervous asking if the game was really going to still start at 11. Very nonchalant, Philippe told me how this was a friendly tournament and we could start the game whenever we want. I felt a little more at ease.
So we had our first game which we lost. We didn’t play particularly well and I’m most certain that if we played the way we did in the next two games that we easily could have won. Nonetheless, after the game, Philippe, Vincent and I stayed in the gym for about a half hour talking about changes we could make and what needs to be done better.
After the game they had food for us again. And they had drinks for us again………wait. What??? Yes. They had beer and wine for after the game. It was 1 in the afternoon and we had another game to play that evening. That was my first real introduction to French culture! When everyone finished eating (and drinking) the team went back to the hotel to grab some clothes and then go to la piscine (the pool). I chose not to go but instead opted for a little siesta back in the room. My siesta also included streaming the Notre Dame v. Navy game online as well as do a bit of studying on my French. (Did I mention how badly I need to learn French?)
Later on we had our second game of the day, which the women came out much harder for. They came out and played with a lot more intensity and overall, much better as a team. We won the game and were fairly happy with the effort, but still noted things that need to be worked on.
Once again they put on a nice spread for us after the game with some beer, wine, and our team had the booze (I can see what kind of team we are going to have this year!). The girls were all talking about going out in the town of Bordeaux that night and made Philippe promise that all the coaches would come out as well. He obliged and we went out to meet the team. Everyone was dancing and having a good time and then they were all like “Tim, Tim, watch!” And they started doing the dynamic stretches that I had made them do earlier in the day as their dance moves. I started dying! Pretty much anyone I’ve ever coached has done these stretches and nobody has ever said anything about them. Here I am on my first day with a new team and they’re mocking me by doing them in the bar! I think I’m going to have fun with this team.
-Bordeaux City Center at night
The next morning we had one more game before it was back to Toulouse. Once again I had to take the team through the dynamic stretches.
The stretches were going well, until the one stretch that I always do – lunge with your hands over your head and reach back as far as you can aka the main dance move that the girls were doing the night before. When I told them to do this stretch none of us could stop ourselves from laughing.
We went on to win the second game, which was very close. Overall 2-1 on the weekend. But as I said before, this was very much a friendly tournament as well as a team-building weekend. I had a ton of fun meeting the new team and enjoyed my first coaching experience with Philippe and Vincent. It was also a great opportunity to make some new relationships with the great coaches of Bordeaux, Jerome and Gaetan. Thank you guys for a great weekend!!