Tim Marcin: Men's Soccer In Spain
Note: This story will appear in the April issue of the Sho'men Club Newsletter. To become a member of the Sho'men Club, click here.
Tim Marcin, a junior on the men's soccer team, wrote about his experience in Spain as members of the Washington College men's soccer team traveled to the Iberian Peninsula for spring break. Marcin is a captain on the men's soccer team and is also the sports editor for the college's newspaper, The Elm. Here is his experience.
When I set out to write this article, it was difficult to try to condense the trip into words. I tried to keep a log and write the trip out day by day, but that seemed to reduce what was a fantastic time into the mere facts. So I decided the better choice would be to describe my favorite thing in each city, and of course, every game we played.
The second day in Spain we went to tour The Bernebéu. To those of you who don't know, The Bernebéu is the stadium that the famous soccer team Real Madrid plays in. After the first day of hazy, jet-lagged touring, the team was finally able to actually concentrate and stay awake the second day. That is good, because The Bernebéu is something you want to truly experience.
The moment you see it, you notice how big the stadium is. The tour of it is self-guided, so when we walked in and passed the turnstiles we began walking up stairs, as directed by signs. We climbed, and climbed, and climbed, to the point where it felt like we must be going the wrong way. Then, we finally got to the top of the climb and took in what the tour called the "panoramic" view. Looking down on a cathedral of soccer was amazing, every seat in the huge stadium beneath us. It made the descent down to the field even more exciting.
After winding through hallways filled with trophies, banners, and famous photographs, we came to a tunnel that will take us to the field. Once down to ground level, we got to sit on the team benches or the comfortable team chairs rather. We were a foot away from where the greatest players in the world play. It was a feeling that cannot be replicated and certainly cannot be found in America.
Later that night we played our first game against a local Madrid club. We pulled up to the stadium, a pretty large one, with orange seats and familiar field turf. The field had a bit too much rubber bits (piles of black rubber littered the field), but the weather was nice and sunny. The result was far from ideal. I believe the final score was 6-0, but with limited players and some lingering jet lag, it wasn't that bad. Spanish soccer is as good as advertised; playing them was a learning experience. The team was constantly on the move, communicating with one another, knowing where everyone was going to be. Forget their ability with the ball (and they had plenty), their ability to run and position themselves without the ball was what I took away from the game.
We later played a second game in Madrid, and once again fell pretty badly, 4-0. Once again, however, it was a learning experience. This was soccer played by the country producing the best soccer players in the world. It did not feel shameful to lose to players who were actually being paid to play in Spain. Indeed, the teams we played were semi-professional and often feed players into professional teams. It would be very hard for a small D3 school (without their whole roster) to beat them, but we could learn from playing them.
After four days in Madrid, the team flew to Barcelona. Upon arriving we took a tour of the city, and what a city it was. It was the team's consensus pick for favorite city on the trip, and for good reason. It had a combination of old and new architecture, great history, but modern European places as well. Not to mention it was simply a fun city.
The second half was back and forth. Both teams had chances to score, but neither did. A 2-0 loss to a solid semi-professional Barcelona team was a pretty good result. Afterward we had a social with the team and fans in the club house and it was fun to get to the know the players—despite a formidable language barrier. Broken English and Spanish were passed around like the tapas we were eating and eventually everyone was laughing and having a good time.
The last day of Barcelona, two teammates and myself walked La Rambla, the main street in Barcelona. It was in the mid 70's, sunny, and a beautiful day to end the trip. We walked down to the harbor and sat by the water. Below our feet we could see the fish swimming in the water, and it seemed everyone in the city was as relaxed as we were. After some paella and tapas on La Rambla, I looked around and realized how wonderful my trip had been—one I am sure everyone on the soccer team will surely remember.