Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today's training camp was full of adventures. First of all, it was an adventure just getting up at the crack of dawn so Mark and I could get tickets (wristbands, actually, as it turned out) for the taping of the "Meet the Flyers" program that will be airing several times on Comcast Sportsnet. It features interviews with coaches and players, and questions from fans (about which I'll have more to say later). Wristbands were free, but they were being given out on a "first come, first served" basis. We wanted to get an extra wristband for Karla, in the hopes that she would be able to come by later in the afternoon for the actual taping, but they were only giving out one wristband per person. Heck. :o(

At the training camp, the players from the Flyers, Phantoms, and juniors were divided into four separate small teams. These four teams played a "round robin" tournament that began on Friday; each team was slated to play all three of its opponents during this time, and at the end of the tournament the team with the best record would win the "Clarke Cup". This involved having two scrimmages per day, with one pair of teams in the morning and the other pair of teams in the afternoon.

During this morning's scrimmage, Some other members of the Phantoms Phan Club were sitting with Mark and me right at center ice, in the front row of the bleachers. The balcony where the coaches and scouts stand was directly above us, and I discovered the hard way that there are hazards involved with sitting in that location that early in the morning (pre-9:00 AM).

It started when I felt what seemed like a pat on my head. Did someone just tap me on the hat, from behind? I turned around, but no one was sitting or standing behind me. Reflexively, I reached up to touch the top of my hat, and to my surprise, it was wet. In the past, I've witnessed issues where pipes in the ceiling drip water (though fortunately, it hasn't happened that I know of in the past couple of years). I looked up. One of the people from the front office -- I'm not sure who it was, though I did see that he had glasses -- was leaning on the balcony railing in such a way that his hands, and his styrofoam coffee cup, were outside the railing and above the bleachers.

I sniffed the fingers that I'd just touched to my hat. They smelled like coffee. Crud, I thought, someone just dripped coffee on my Phantoms "Calder Cup Champs 1995" hat. I had some napkins in my pocket, so I started blotting the hat dry. Aah, .

Then I thought I'd better double-check whether my jersey had been anointed with java, as well. I always wear at least one shirt under the jersey (and at the Skate Zone, the rinks are so freezing cold that I wear two shirts), so I was able to remove the jersey and examine it. I was appalled to see a few coffee spots on the back of my gameworn Neil Little jersey. More napkins, more blotting, and more utterances of "" ensued.

Whoever the culprit was had realized, by now, that he'd caffienated somebody, because suddenly NO hands and NO coffee cups remained outside the perimeter of the balcony railing. Said culprit is in luck: the jersey material cleans right off, THANK GOD, and is easy to blot dry without leaving a trace of any stain. Therefore, I will NOT have to track the offender down and brain him. (I wish every garment I own was that easy to clean off after a spill -- klutzes like me would never have a problem again).

However, just because I was going to let the culprit live, doesn't mean I wasn't going to make him feel guilty. I got up and gestured to get the attention of the people on the balcony. "Be careful up there," I said, complete with admonishing index finger-wag. "Make sure your Weapons of Mass Destruction are all inside the railing at all times!"

Then I saw Neil Little among the people on the balcony. He was way over to one side ("stage left", as it were) and doesn't wear glasses, so I knew he wasn't the Spill Monster. "Hey, Neil", I called up.

"It wasn't me!", he answered, as he was one of several styrofoam-cup-bearers standing on high.

"I know. But this is YOUR gameworn jersey. I need you to track down whoever it was and holler at them. Stick up for me here.", I said, and winked. (I wasn't about to ask him to rat out the culprit, because I think at least one of the people standing up there with him was the Guy who Signs All the Paychecks... and HE wears glasses.)

The rest of the day was mishap-free, fortunately, and we proceeded through the rest of the events (the second pair of teams' practice and scrimmage) and went into the roller rink where "Meet the Flyers" was going to be taped.

Remember I mentioned that part of this program was going to involve coaches and players answering questions from fans? They picked me to ask a question during a brief break in activity, VERY shortly prior to the cameras coming back on. :o) They didn't even have people raise their hands -- I just happened to be sitting at the end of the row, so I was chosen. I asked our top line (Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, and Mike Knuble) how the new players who have come on board this year are meshing with the ones who were already here.

But let's rewind for a moment and focus on the moments prior to my actually asking the question. Once I got chosen, there was just enough time to get from my seat to the mark where we were supposed to stand. I don't know if I looked like I'd spent the 30 seconds prior to the camera light going on panicking because I had NO idea what to ask. If that's how I looked, well, I came by it honestly. I hope I didn't worry the TV announcer, Steve Coates, too badly when he asked (about ten seconds prior to the camera going on) what my question was going to be and I didn't have one. But then I thought of our mantra for when we were in interpreter training and were faced with an ambiguous phrase that we needed to translate on the fly: "You're the interpreter; take a stand." So I did. I settled on a question to ask, moments before the camera came on, and I did my best to ask it while looking like I had known all along what I wanted to say. I'm not sure how well I carried off the looking like I had the question thought out well in advance, but hey. If being an interpreter and a church musician has taught me anything, it's to keep a straight face when standing in front of a live microphone, regardless of what's happening. ;o) In any case, given the amount of time I actually spent on camera, I figure I've whittled about five seconds off my "15 minutes of fame" allotment.

So I asked my question, I got my answer (everyone is very pleased at how well the team is coming together), and I sat down. Now I need to be SURE and set the VCR for when the program is coming on.

Anyway... I need to get up early again tomorrow (though nowhere near as early as today), so I'm going to TRY and get a normal amount of sleep tonight. (Heh, good luck. That's easier said than done, these days.) Good night!

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