Thursday was quite busy. I left my hosts from the previous day and made a quick visit to the ocean. As a Midwesterner, I didn’t see any ocean until I was 23, so with the Atlantic a few miles away, I had to go see.
Then I traveled a short distance to visit Rob McCourt, head coach of the Monmouth men’s program. Rob has done a great job building that program. He showed us the campus
And was kind enough to give us a look inside the former summer home of Woodrow Wilson, which is right next to the team’s home field.
Then I made the challenging trek across Central Jersey to make an appointment in Downingtown, PA, outside, Philly. But first I made a totally unnecessary 60-mile side trip down I-295 almost into South Jersey. My son Alex bailed me out on the phone with directions, but let’s hear it for the New Jersey Highway folks for not putting a single sign on the road telling me how to get to the bridge over the Delaware onto the Penn Turnpike.
So I got a taste of rush hour in Northwest Philadelphia and showed up just before the u14 Penn Fusion Gaels began their training. Just off a title run at the WAGS Invitational, this is one of the best teams in the country and is coached by Sean McCafferty, who shared some thoughts with use.
The early-arrivals to training were happy to show us some ball skills and chat with me.
One player, a top forward named Megan Giannapoulos, got there a bit late for our juggling video and I felt badly about it, so I decided to give her a solo audition, which she passed with flying colors.
The sun was setting as the Gaels continued training, so I hit the road, going south down country roads through rural Maryland to I-95, on which I moved down the eastern seaboard to Washington D.C., from where I will continue to explore the American soccer scene, one stop at a time.