Dispatches from Denver: Weather-Delay Reporting
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – As I begin to write this, we are an hour in to an weather delay on account of a steady stream of thunderstorms, and hopefully nothing more, passing over Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The main stadium field is flooded pretty good, the result of rain and hail, although the draining system is keeping up strong.
Australia is scheduled to play Japan and England to face the Iroquois Nationals in the two highlighted Blue Division Games of the evening, to cap off what's already been a full day with 36 nations playing; all of the other nations besides Canada and the U.S., who opened the tournament on Thursday and had the day off.
I headed about 25 minutes south to Denver University this morning with Lacrosse Magazine editor-in-chief Matt DaSilva to meet the Uganda lacrosse team and take in some of the dorm life the teams are living during the tournament. To meet the Uganda players was a real treat, and hearing Fields of Growth director Kevin Dugan tell them all how important it was that they made it to this point after a pre-game lunch was special.
Ohio Machine midfielder Tom Schreiber, an assistant coach with the team, said that the group is probably a lot better than people think. They were excited having just received their jerseys a couple hours before their first game against Ireland, as the first African team to play in the FIL World Championship.
Matt jumped on the shuttle bus with the team as they headed back to Dick's, and I made my way over to Team USA's off-day practice, if you could call it that. It was a light mood on a turf practice at DU, as you would expect after a big win over your biggest rival the night before, with stretching the main order of business for roughly 30 minutes followed by some team bonding time in ice baths, crafted by the Team USA support staff. It didn't take long for hijinks to ensue, with the group in one of the inflatable tubs throwing ice and eventually using water guns to fight the group of players in the other a few feet away.
There were some other topics of discussion, too, like the breaking news that the NLL's Philadelphia Wings would re-locate to a to be determined location for 2015. One of the players yelled "Cleveland," reacting to the news that LeBron James was returning to Cavaliers' NBA franchise.
From there, it was back to Dick's to take in Uganda's debut. A sizeable crowd was on hand at one of the outside turf fields when I arrived about eight minutes in to find Ireland leading 1-0. Eventually, the Irish pulled away leading by more than 10 goals before Castro Onen leapt near the crease and fire in Uganda's first-ever international goal to make it 17-1 late in the third quarter. Onen raised his arms in the air and ran over to the bleachers to celebrate with teammates, as the crowd roared. Matt is working on a story on Uganda's whole experience, so look for more on that soon.
Around the same time on an adjacent field, Germany put the finishing touches on a 12-4 win over Belgium in the Red Division. The victory started a new chapter for the program, which found out late last year that the FIL membership had opted to reinstate the Iroquois Nationals to the Blue Division despite its forfeiting of all games due to passport issues four years ago in England.
"It's very good [to get going]," Germany head coach Jack Kaley told LM's Sean Burns. "It gets the past behind us and lets us look to the future. Basically, we've got a new team [since 2010], and a lot of these kids weren't involved four years ago."
The biggest impact on Germany was fundraising, as sponsors were less enthusiastic once the team would not have guaranteed games against powers like the U.S. and Canada like it did four years ago, when it stepped up to fill the void left by the Iroquois absence. But with a game under its belt, Germany and Kaley can look at the task at hand rather than dwell on the fact that they weren't playing Friday night against England in Blue Division play.
Soon after the Germans wrapped up their win, the rain started, then the hail and wind followed. I was really hoping a tornado wasn't happening, although I guess we all would have known if that was the case. And here we are now. Australia and Japan are set to start in about a half hour, followed by the Iroquois and England.
Cheers! The sun is out. Let the games begin – again.