Preparation for the competition has been more challenging for me then any tournament I have ever played. I have always maintained focus on my personal preparation to be at my best leading up to a tournament. I maintained this for the weeks before arriving. But the day I arrived in Israel it was a whole new game for me as I have also been responsible for getting 23 Gand Masters players ready. Organizing and running practices, even with the help of my awesome assistant coach, Lonnie Mitchel, has impacted on my own time to practice. This, though, was the game that I chose to play when I took on the position of coach of this team.
So once again I have created a challenge for myself. I, of course, needed a good story that would set the bar high for me. One that would motivate me to reach deep.
I love challenges that raise me. I am a competitor who, even in the most complicated scenarios finds joy in the day that I face. I will myself to success. My focus is powerful and is stronger than any distraction.
When sneaking in some practice points during the team practices I have started my points with a determination to play each point as if the fate of the Universe depends on my focus. Each point its own match for me as if it is my last point.
Last night was the Opening Ceremonies. As you can see from the attached pictures it was quite the event. I have been lucky in my life to experience many exciting moments. This night was certainly one of the very best. To march into the Teddy Stadium with a team of 1200 USA teammates, from ages 14-84, including every sport imaginable, all of us chanting U S A, U S A was off the charts. While waiting to enter the stadium the energy was indescribable, all of us singing the National Anthem, America the Beautiful, American Pie, Born in the USA, We are the Champions, all led by the enthusiastic kids, with the Masters and Grand Masters singing along…well, it was unforgettable.
But nothing compared to the feeling that I had when we started to enter through the tunnel leading into the Stadium. We could see ahead of us the upper deck of one section and it was packed. The anticipation of entering the arena increased with each minute and then we marched in. 40,000 screaming fans when Team USA was announced. We were, for those twenty minutes of circling the stadium, superstars. We were waving to cheering fans, giving high fives to fans in the front rows, dancing, hugging, smiling, feeling the love and admiration. I spotted Jo Ann in the crowd and saw her jumping and screaming and crying and, I too, felt tears. An experience to remember for a lifetime. To be able to share with Jo Ann and my family and, down the road, with my grandchildren. The Ceremony was a party that went on for hours and one I will never ever forget.
My first match, scheduled for today was a default. I am scheduled to play on Sunday.