Wednesday, October 5, 2011


September 29 – October 2, 2011

As the plane lifted off the runway in Baltimore Sunday afternoon, taking us back to the reality of life in Detroit, most of the Great Lakes Squash Team on board was probably fast asleep before the wheels even left the tarmac. With impish smiles on our exhausted faces, the light dreams no doubt drifted to the previous 4 days we had just spent tormenting our aging bodies…

The 2011 Great Lakes Squash Team consisted of 13 players from around the Detroit area. If they are anything like me, they would have been going over their squash matches in their minds. All the “could haves”, “should haves”, “would haves”, “why did I’s”, “if only’s” and “I can’t believe it’s” run through the brain and wishes of time machines and do-overs plague the disappointed. We matched up against the Naval Academy Squash Team in Annapolis on Friday afternoon (I’ll get to that in a minute), a day after arrival and a day after our first effort at emptying many of the downtown bars inventory. We failed at that task, but not without a decent attempt.

View from Sherwood Forest. Left to right: Jon Uffelman, me,
John McRoberts (BAC), Nick Peanutbuttersandwich (Windsor)

One of the finest pleasures of this trip is the luxury of being able to stay in Sherwood Forest, courtesy of BAC member Jon Uffleman, one of the main instigators of our excursion. It is a a charming community 20 minutes from Annapolis spread over the banks of the river. Views are nothing short of breathtaking, and when I woke up on Friday morning I did not even have to move my head – just open my eyes – to take in the spectacular panoramic sight of the water and surrounding islands. An early morning, two and a half hour jaunt on Jon Uffelman’s boat over the glassy waters was one of my highlights of the weekend, the fresh air, blue skies, the feeling of total relaxation was the flawless start to the day.

Before we tackled the cadets on the squash court, the day was spent enjoying the Sherwood Forest facilities. Eric “have-you-seen-my-sock” Green (DAC) and Jon Uffelman teamed up for a tennis match against Windsor’s Mark Eugeni and Nick Dimitrijevic. I believe Eric and Jon won the match, but really I wasn’t watching too intensely. It was then we hit the 9-hole golf course that snakes through the houses and streets. A terrifying prospect for anyone (such as myself) who is horrible at the sport. It doesn’t take much misdirection for the ball to find a house window, or a car, or a pedestrian. I only hit around the last 3 holes and managed to take out one gazebo, not a bad effort. Even Nick Digmeadeepditch, who had never played golf before swung the club a little, managed to hit the ball, but luckily missed everything else.

Winning the squash matches has always been a difficult mountain to climb for our team. The Navy Team is at least half our age, obviously fitter, faster, skinnier, nicer, and probably smarter too. The only thing we have going for us is experience. All 13 matches were played, however only the top 9 of them count towards the end result. It was a rough start. In the first round of matches, Peter Logan (DAC) and Casey Garwood (ex-DAC) won their matches 3-0 and 3-1 respectively, but we went down in the other contests. One of the strengths of the Navy Team is their depth. The top 5 to 6 players are really interchangeable, so for any of us to win, we needed to be absolutely on the top of our games. In the second round of matches, I ended up the lone victor. Even in the matches ranked 10 to 13, we lost all of those too. Final score: Naval Academy 6 – Team Great Lakes 3.

Normally we would have a second scrimmage on the Saturday morning, but because of the college football game starting at midday and all the lads wanting to start the tailgate at 10am, the squash was scrapped. There is nothing better than pulling oneself out of bed early in the morning after falling into it at 3am, just to get to a car park for the sole purpose of drinking some more. Like the troopers we are, we spent half the day between parked cars and barbeques, and the other half in town to continue our fitness regimen of endless bicep curls.

That night, to replenish our spent energy, four of us hopped in for a quick burger at a local deli. This deli is renowned for a particular food challenge. The challenge comprises of drinking a 6-pound milkshake and eating a 1-pound burger within 60 minutes. Just to give you an idea of how big this milkshake actually is, the table next to us ordered just the shake between 3 people. They couldn’t finish even half of it before they left and passed it on to us. The four of us couldn’t drink the rest of it either before we left and we passed it on to the next table. However, the story goes that Joey Chestnut (yes, that famous hot-dog-eating maniac champion ‘athlete’) took on the challenge and devoured both the shake and burger in 6 minutes. I suddenly, somehow, respect him more and less at the same time.

The trip was over. We had all given our best. And we all can’t wait for 2012. Hopefully by then we would have recovered. As a final note, I want to extend a mammoth thank you to Jon Uffelman – without him, his character, this experience wouldn’t be half of what it is and I doubt any of us would want it any other way. And another thank you to the rest of the team who mesh in such a way it really does make me feel I am part of something very special.

The 2012 Great Lakes Squash Team
Back row left to right: Mark Eugeni, me, Reilly Seidel (Toledo), Rob Graves (Franklin),
Nick Ihavethisnastyitch (Windsor), Eric Green (DAC), John McRoberts (BAC)
Brad Seidel (Toledo), Al Sprenger (Cleveland)
Front row left to right: Jon Uffelman (BAC), Peter Logan (DAC), Casey Garwood (ex-DAC), John Seidel (Toledo)

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