After dinner, he downloaded several presentations designed to help communities grow hockey and shared them with us. We thank Tristan for his time and for making Team USA feel so welcome here in Castellón.
We thank all the Coaches and TMs that greeted us so warmly before schooling us! And thank you to the Tournament staff for such a well run event. We know how much work it takes to put on a small UWH tournament. I can't imagine for something on this scale.
So, our tournament comes to a close. The team has a free day, and we go to root for teams in the finals, like the U19 Colombian women who have befriended us. Later, we attend the banquet in the Castellón Bull Fight arena. It's a spectacular venue for a party, with huge paella kettles serving the delicious local rice dish, along with fruit, bread, and salad. There is a DJ for the kids and they enjoy a beautiful summer evening dancing in the open air.
The USA team will leave Castellón tomorrow morning. Some will fly home from Barcelona or Valencia. Other are continuing their travel and flying to Paris with their parents. For myself, I'm looking forward to going home to my wife, Hilarie, who has been so patient and supportive of my time with Team USA U19.
I want to take a moment to recognize Team Manager Samuel Mariani Sr. who made my job so easy by worrying about all the things a TM must do so that a coach can coach. Accounting, transportation, communications, scheduling, shepherding a team of teenagers to where they need to be, and more. He is the heartbeat of the team, and none works harder than Samuel.
Samuel's wife Zamarit, whose name I have butchered three times in previous updates, was an angel, taking care of food, water and all the nutrients a team of athletes must have. Thank you Samuel and Zamarit for pouring your heart out for the team.
And thank you to Doctor Lucky Meisenheimer for caring and mending our wounded warriors. Ice packs for bruises, tape for sprained shoulders, wrists and ankles. Bandages for cuts and scrapes. And sealing a serious cut during the final game that allowed Peter Derrick to continue playing. Thank you Lucky.
And to Doc's wife Jacquie who took so many great photos, some of which readers of the blog have seen. A gracious lady who helped plan our outings and excursions. Thank you!
Finally, the demure moms of the SF boys who opened up, cast aside their shyness and went at rooting for Team USA like bloodthirsty Raider fans. Thank you for being here and for your support.
In closing, I read Gustavo's letter about Tasmania in 2017 and he's right. We will be so much more experienced, and now understand what it takes to win. Our younger boys will be two years older in Tasmania, and still be able to compete in a third U19. I won't be allowed to call them boys anymore, but for now, they're still our boys.
It's now time to gather support for Team USA Elite men and women as they prepare for their own worlds next year. Go Team USA! U19 will have your backs!
Farewell from Castellón, Spain.