I was on the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus for the Western Water Polo Association regional tournament. I have been the head coach for the San Diego State Women's Club Water Polo team during the 2010-2011 school year. This was our first real travel trip of the year. We were seeded into the tournament in 3rd which was a great seed that would allow us to get into the semi-finals with little stress.
The trip would start with a terrible drive up the coast to San Luis Obispo (slo). It is located about two hours past Santa Barbara and about 250 miles from San Francisco. I left San Diego a little past noon with a car load of girls. Well needless to say we made a few bathroom stops and a food stop. We finally arrived a good 8, Yes I said EIGHT hours later. Once arriving with my car load we headed to a team dinner.
Saturday would be filled with two games. We first played USC and won the game easily. All my players were able to get some time which was awesome. Between games I would go to get Brennan at the bus stop. Brennan had take a train from LA to Santa Barbra (3 hours) got off the train and road a bus to SLO (2 hour trip). Overall I think he had a trip of about 6 hours all so that he could be with me to spend my birthday. I guess he loves me, cause early on in our relationship we had a joke about riding the city bus. He did not have to ride a city bus, it was a charter bus, but it was still a bus with random people. I would pick up Brennan and head back to the pool. We would play UCI and get another win. Once again allowing all my players to get some time in the game.
Sunday I would wake up to it being my birthday and we would be playing in the Semi-finals of the tournament. Mind you if we won our game at 11, we would be playing in the finals of the WWPA Tournament. For the two teams that make the final it automatically qualifies them to compete in the Collegiate Club Water Polo National Championship Tournament that was to be held 2 weeks later at Notre Dame University. The best finish the Aztec's have ever had was 4th going into this year.
Needless to say some how the team had figured out that it was my birthday and I received multiple "Happy Birthday's" while at breakfast.
At 11am, we were facing UCLA in the Semi's. They had a good team, but very beatable. They however play the game of water polo putting it nicely I guess with a chip on their shoulder's. And play the game dirty. That came out very quickly as we played some great defense and I had a girl get punched in the face. Yes for those of you that read this blog and do not have a ton of background knowledge the game of water polo is very physical. But hitting people with a closed fist is a whole new level and seen as a disgrace to the game. For whatever reason we did not get the call and I had a hurt player. It was not two defensive plays later I had another girl get clearly punched in the face. She went under water and the goalie ended up having to grab her. (You can see her in a picture below sitting on the bench behind me)
I am not someone that really gets after the ref's. But I am a Vessey! I have a coaching father and a strong willed mother. If there is anything I have learned over the years, there is a time and a place when you make your views know and this was it. So as you can imagine as the girl was being helped to the wall, I started my quick walk and very loud yelling at the ref. Of course saying only logical things (right?). I guess he did not agree or see it the same way. He finally turned to me and I received a yellow card. The first card I have received in my water polo coaching career. A yellow card is much the same as soccer, I was basically being warned. If he carded me again with a red card I would be ejected from the game. What I have left out is that I am being warned only about 3 minutes into the game. But it was needed, it did manage to fire up my team a little. I gave the bench a laugh and said " he just wanted to give me something for my birthday." The card however did limit my ability to yell at them the rest of the game. We ended up losing the game, BUT my team did some great things. They played a good clean game (not ever reverting to playing dirty) and they never gave up. They fought hard!
My team. Go Aztec's!!!
This was later in the game after I got carded, so guess I was still able to yell. However this was not me yelling at the ref this was at my team. (It was positive encouragement of course)
On our way home Brennan allowed me to be upset about losing for a few minutes and then we went about having a great day. We had a joyful drive and I pulled a very risky driving maneuver to stop at a view point along the ocean. I think Brennan was secretly impressed that I made such a last minute decision. It ended up being a great stop. We ventured down to this beautiful beach and there was no one around. We found some great tide pools, and just had a great adventure. Making it not the normal run of the mill birthday.
The beach we found :)
Under the train
View from by the car.. Beautiful
We had a great time at our random stop
Well the drive back after Santa Barbara was seemingly with everyone else that lives in California. So needless to say we had a very slow drive. Once back in LA we made a nice dinner and I opened my presents from Brennan. Which was an amazing canvas picture collage of us, that he had made through shutter fly. And of course we had Ice cream.
That Sunday evening and then early into the week Brennan and I had some different options present themselves. Just when we thought we had it all figured out. But that is what makes life an adventure, so in the coming weeks you will read about some BIG changes in not only my life, but Brennan's as well. But I am really excited about it all!!! So stay tuned!