The adventures of the Portland Timbers on tour for Dribble Oregon 2013 continued yesterday with Danny Mwanga, Eric Alexander and myself venturing into the snow and ice of Klamath Falls. Our furthest trip on this year’s tour was made easy thanks to JELD-WEN. Our flight was amazing due to the inversion forcing the clouds into the valley and exposing all the mountains of the cascades to those above 5,000 feet. Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Broken Top, Three Finger Jack, the Three Sisters, Bachelor, Diamond and Crater Lake were all crystal clear in the sunshine, and entertained us on the trip south. This trip marked the third clinic the Timbers have put on in Klamath Falls. The fans there are great and continuously show their support by wearing Timbers green.
The boys started the day with two clinics teaching kids, ages 5-12, passing, dribbling and shooting skills. I'm not sure who wore out who, as both the coaches and kids seemed out of breath following each clinic. Questions from kids ranged from "Who's your favorite player?" to "Why do you like soccer?" All in all, it was a fun time for everyone with lots of laughs.
Our pub stop was back at the Creamery for the second year in a row. The Creamery is a large brew pub with a fire place, couches and great food. As much as I try to avoid gluten and dairy, I couldn't help but order their mac and cheese wedges. They are amazing and I can't stop talking about them (I may have a problem.) It was great to see familiar faces from years past and other stops on this year’s current tour. Andrew and Dalton came up from Shasta, CA for the Medford stop and then met us again at the Creamery. The meet and greet session brought tons of questions and answers that showcased the guys’ personalities. The room filled with laughter when Danny and Eric danced Danny's goal celebration dance, and then filled with applause when Danny explained that his mom was his hero. Both guys explained that they are very proud to be Portland Timbers and are looking forward to playing under Coach Porter. One more stop on this year’s trip. Looking forward to Astoria on Saturday. I hope to see you there!
Medford is a great town. Full of history and nature. We planted trees with Friends of Trees Saturday morning along Bear Creek, a tributary of the mighty Rogue River. The trees that we planted will shade the creek keeping it cool for salmon as they spawn. We even planted a few wild roses hoping they bring luck to our new team.
Our clinic was busy with Timbers fans and future stars. I was worn out from kicking and chasing soccer balls with the kids. My former rodeo traveling partner surprised me with his son at the camp. It was great to catch up with him and see his son running around with the coaches.
Sometime during the autograph session I noticed Jake's accent had turned from Kiwi to kind of Russell Brandish English. I confronted him about it in Eugene the next night and he confirmed that it was true though he did not know why. I am sure there are pictures floating around of David sticking his tongue out at a little girl. I can attest that he did not start this battle nor did he win. Best set of questions at the clinic, "Why is soccer so hard?" asked by a young male participant followed by, "Why is soccer so easy?" asked by the girl who beat David.
Finally time to relax at 4 Daughters Irish Pub. We met with fans from as far away as Shasta City, CA.
I enjoyed the bus ride to Eugene though I'm not sure the rest of the group did as I sang along to all the songs from Rock of Ages. Thankfully Jake helped me with some of the duets.
Eugene's tree planting was a completely opposite experience from the day before. We planted pine trees in a grass lot formerly used as a gravel parking lot. It was quite the struggle to get the holes dug but today there are nine new trees making the lot look more like a park.
Kick City is a great indoor facility with two fields a soccer store and a pub complete with TVs that happened to be showing the NFL Playoffs. We were entertained the entire time. Eugene taught me one thing, I am not and will never be a goalie. I took shots to my chest, legs and head (thankfully protected by a helmet) that I never saw coming and I have finally admitted to myself that I am indeed "sluggish." If I recall correctly David took a good shot as he was playing out of position. Thankfully there was time to relax following the sessions as we signed autographs and took pictures with all the kids.
After the clinic it was off to The Old Pad. Another great pub full of Timbers fans. My cousin Kindy came down to surprise me! It was great to see her and all the Timbers Army Echo Squadron. There we learned that both Jake and David had great first cars, are looking forward to playing under Coach Porter and were happy to bring the Cascadia Cup to Portland where it belongs.