June 2, 2005

The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team embarked on its 11-day trip to Europe on Tuesday, arriving in Prague, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic. The team’s administrator, senior associate athletics director John Heisler – who formerly served as the long-time sports information director at Notre Dame – provides a recap of the first long day of the venture, which featured encountering American fast food and having the bag of lacrosse sticks fail to arrive with them in Prague.

Check back to und.com throughout the trip for further diaries, as well as photo galleries.

“We´re one very long day into our trip to the Czech Republic. We left Tuesday night at about 6:30 from JFK airport and had an uneventful flight to Prague, arriving about 8:00 a.m. Wednesday local time. We were met at the Prague airport by Dr. Otakar Hubschmann (father of rising senior Brian Hubschmann), who had organized much of the trip. We weren´t sure what we would see in Prague but not far from the airport was a McDonald’s and a bit further was a KFC. It was maybe a 20-minute ride to the Hotel Mars, which is about four or five miles east of the city center.

“We relaxed and got organized the rest of the morning, then walked about two blocks to the Nad Ledem restaurant where we are taking lunch and dinner most days. The restaurant is connected to and actually overlooks the home arena for the Slavia Praha hockey club, which is one of the most successful in the Czech Republic. We had soup, chicken cutlet and potatoes to eat — and that was probably a good hint of what the food is like here.

“After lunch, Dr. Hubschmann led us on a tour of Prague to give us a sense of where we were. We took the tram two stops east and then took the metro underground back into the city, about a 20-minute trip. We probably spent three hours wandering the area from Wenceslas Square to Old Town Square. Lots of people, lots of photo opportunities, all kinds of history. The architecture is old world and quite beautiful. There were all kinds of people and plenty of outdoor cafes, which prompted a stop later to get off our feet.

“We took the metro back to our hotel around six o’clock and then walked back to Nad Ledem for dinner (a buffet with breaded chicken and ham and lots of other items). Everyone was dragging at this point, because we all had been up all night on the flight. The coaches met several Czech lacrosse coaches, including Petr Tahal of the Czech Lacrosse Union. He will be organizing much of our play here.

“He talked to our coaches about the amount of field and box lacrosse here in the Czech Republic, as well as a game that grew internally involving two-foot sticks and a tennis ball, with players playing basically with one hand. We´re going to do a clinic and practice with their players and play a game as well.

“There was only one problem with our flight — the bag of sticks didn´t make it, so we´re hoping it arrives later today. Practice Friday is going to be rather challenging without it.

“We all got a good night´s sleep on Wednesday, and we went for a run as a group Thursday morning. All water comes in a bottle, and we haven´t exactly found Gatorade readily available.

“This afternoon we are taking the metro to the Prague Castle. Then we´ll be back for an early dinner at Nad Ledem. Then, we are going to catch the end of a women’s lacrosse game between a U.S. all-star team and the Czech Republic.”