After several fundraisers and some tedious Saturdays bag packing, the funds were sufficiently in place for Dromore’s first ever tour. Europe just couldn’t cut it and so our choice of destination was the ‘Big Apple’ with a visit to neighbouring city Boston as well.
On the 18th August 2010, the 11 girls, coaches Jonny McBride and James Finlay and tour mummy Valerie Malcomson set off for America. With the girls coming from various teams, tour provided a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other and it wasn’t long before the ‘sisterhood’ was born.
First stop was Boston where we met our chaperone Tess who brought us to our hotel. With everyone feeling exhausted from the early start and travelling mishaps, an early night was in order to set us up for an eventful trip.
There was no better way to start our first day in Boston than to head straight for the 50th floor of the Prudential Center Skywalk where we were able to take in a bird’s eye view of the beautiful city. We then enjoyed some time in the sun which unbeknown to us wasn’t going to be around long.
In the evening we then travelled to Bentley University to play our first match. On arrival, we were in awe of the facilities on offer which undoubtedly put Northern Ireland’s universities to shame. It was obvious that sport was paramount and we soon learned that indeed the girls trained for approximately 7 hours...EVERY day! Feeling a little insignificant, we were unsure as to how our team would fair against the well trained American side. However, despite having never played together, we gelled very quickly and came away with a 2-0 victory. Hayley Laverty was awarded Dame of the Game for her excellent performance.
With the first match over us it was time to spend some serious dollars in Downtown Boston. The older ‘responsible’ ones took the younger ones under their wings, making sure they didn’t burn holes in their pockets; but it soon became apparent that the boys were really the ones needing minded...money to burn apparently!
The fourth day saw us embark upon a six hour bus transfer to NYC. The journey passed quite nicely with some quality tunes and entertainment courtesy of myself, Lauren (next dance prodigy...watch this space!)
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side for the majority of our stay in New York but that didn’t stop us. We spent most of our time shopping, making the most of the bargains at the outlets and picking up some quality brands in NYC centre.
We also had the privilege of seeing the Yankees play and experiencing the atmosphere surrounding American sport. Despite a few home runs which got the crowd buzzing, we were glad that after 3 long hours the game was rained off. Needless to say however we didn’t appreciate getting drenched!
The next day was another wash out but a trip to the Six Flags theme park could not be missed. Some park ponchos kept the rain at bay allowing us to enjoy the awesome roller-coasters on offer. James, Louise and I even braved the park’s biggest roller-coaster, Kingda Ka, standing at 456ft and reaching a top speed of 128mph...and over in 3.5 seconds! After a tiring day at the theme park, we then travelled to Monmouth University to play our second match. Unfortunately we were no match for the fit Monmouth side and disappointingly lost 2-0. Nevertheless, it was a great opportunity to experience a different style of hockey. A post-match social allowed us to chat to the Monmouth girls and learn about their sporting lives. They were very friendly and surprisingly appreciated our attempts at their accent! A good impression of an American ice cream seller does wonders for breaking the ice!
Of course we couldn’t come away from New York without viewing its biggest attractions. We visited the notorious Times Square, Madison Square Garden, the infamous Statue of Liberty and managed a very brief view of the Empire State Building.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to redeem ourselves from our Monmouth performance as our match against our supposed toughest opponents, New York Intensity, had to be cancelled.
The sun finally appeared for our last day in New York so we relaxed by the hotel pool in an attempt to return home a less pale shade of white!
Overall the tour was a great opportunity to bring members of the club together and experience American hockey. Unfortunately this report really doesn’t do it any justice...to know the banter you have to experience it...and we sure did!! Bring on the next adventure! 2012 perhaps.................
Thanks to our sponsors Kukri Sports, Country Kitchen Home Bakery and Restaurant, Armagh City Electrics, FG Wilson and everyone who made tour possible.