Sunday, December 5, 2010


A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to head up to Brazil for a week with our high school sports teams for a tournament that we call Rancho. I say we call it Rancho because its actual name is the Big 8 Tournament and our reasons for calling it Rancho would make a whole other blog post. The tournament pits ASA against 7 American style schools from Brazil. We competed against schools from Rio de Janiero, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, and more. The best parts about the trip however were that I didn't have to pay for it and that is was not in a city, but about a 2.5 hour bus ride outside of Sao Paulo in the middle of nowhere in the mountains.

Adam, Jenny, Molly, and I on the bus ride with Cons peeking her head in between.

The girl's soccer team preparing for their first game.

The other basketball coach, Adam, and I along with a few of the other male coaches/chaperones slept in a dorm room with all the guys. This meant there were approximately 30 guys packed in there pretty closely as you can see below. Consider yourselves lucky that Bill Gates hasn't invented Smell-O-Vision yet because it was not the most pleasant place by the end of the week!

The view of part of the complex from the front porch of our dorm.

The girl's basketball team playing in, and dominating, their first game. They didn't have a challenge all tournament just like the girl's soccer team.

Mai scoring one of the girls' goals with an impressive back heel off of a corner kick on their way to a 9-0 win in this game. She's so proud of this picture!

The guys' soccer team had a much harder road to the championship game and played incredibly well for most of the tournament. The girls' team was so dominant that their games were over by halftime, but the guys' games were all close and exciting.

After the game, Adam, Molly, Steve and I went for a hike up the mountain to get a look at some of the beautiful Brazilian countryside.

The cluster of buildings that you see in this picture is part of the camp. As you can see we were quite isolated which added to the charm of the place. The kids couldn't even get reception for their Blackberrys!

Tough place to spend the week but someone had to do it!

On the night before all of the Championship games, we got word that the uncle of one of our athletes (and father of one of my 9th grade students) had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. It was a rough night, but I was touched and very proud of the way all of our athletes and coaches (and the athletes and coaches from other teams as well for that matter) came together to help and support each other. One of the greatest strengths of Paraguayan culture is how everyone helps everyone else (within their social class anyway) in times of need. The flag below says "Be strong Gorostiaga family, ASA is with you" and the guys here are holding it before playing in the championship game of the soccer tournament.

The championship game went into a shootout and here is a picture of one of our players scoring on a penalty kick in that shootout. Our guys won when a player for the other team widely acknowledged by all schools to be the biggest jerk at the tournament missed his penalty kick. Don't say Karma doesn't exist!

The guys singing and chanting at the girls' championship game after their big victory.

Picture with the basketball team as we were waiting for the bus to leave. We finished 3rd in the tournament but Adam and I were extremely proud of how we played and grew as a team through the tournament. 3rd is a really good result for us because most of our guys have been playing organized basketball for less than a year now and we really have no height and only have one guy who can hit an outside shot to save his life. They made us proud!

Overall ASA won the tournament championship for the 4th year in a row by winning championships in 3 of the 4 sports and throwing in our third place on top of that. It was a great week and a great experience that I won't soon forget. It brought be back to the days of high school basketball camps and tournaments which were some of my best high school memories so that just added to the fun. Since Adam is also heading to Bogota with us next year we're hoping that we can get involved with the team up there too.


alopezbarton said...

Nice action shots Jesse. Did yo take them?

Jesse said...

Thanks and yes I did. Took all the pics other than the 2 that I'm in.