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Letters From Brazil #4 - Sophomore Sendoff

Aug. 17, 2004

INDAIATUBA, Brazil – The Notre Dame women’s soccer program has not been the same since the current sophomore class first reported to campus in the fall of 2003. Their class unity and unending spirit have served to super-charge the team during the past two seasons and their leadership provides great promise for the upcoming seasons in Notre Dame soccer history. Three members of the sophomore class – Claire Gallerano, Kari Kennedy and Becky Tweneboah – sauntered up to the keyboard and have turned in what will be the final on-site diary for the team’s nine-day Brazilian tour. The team tri-captains – Mary Boland, Gudrun Gunnarsdottir and Melissa Tancredi – also will file a Brazilian tour overview after returning to South Bend (the final report may include some bonus offerings, such as a Brazil trip top-10 list that the sophomore class will be more than happy to help create). And now, on to today’s Letter From Brazil. Letters From Brazil #4 – Claire Gallerano, Kari Kennedy and Becky Tweneboah (Aug. 17, 2004) Oi from Campinas! Our last few days here have been very exciting. Yesterday, we played our final games, finishing the tour with five wins and a tie. The first game of the day took an interesting turn at the beginning of the second half, as the Brazilians began “pummeling” (to use one of Jill Krivacek/Rudy’s words) our team. The refs, or “professors,” tried unsuccessfully to get control of the game. For the first time in our careers, we thought the benches might actually be cleared as the coaches leapt from their seats to challenge calls. Despite the rough play, we were able to come away from the game with a 3-1 victory. Game two was a different story. We were a little skeptical heading into the second game, as these tiny girls in green spandex shorts began skipping around the field. They were by far the most friendly team we encountered on the trip, even carrying the American flag onto the field for the pregame picture. Once the whistle blew, we quickly realized that there was more to these girls than smiles and green spandex. In true Brazilian style, there were an amazing amount of “fouls” called, including one which resulted in a penalty kick. No worries though, because Nikki “Norville” Westfall saved the day by leaping through the air and blocking the shot. Her blue pearlies were shining with delight at the promise of a peanut butter parfait reward. Norville’s save gave us a shutout. The goals that game were highlight worthy … shout outs to Magui (Lizzie Reed) who ripped a sick one-timer off a pass from Claire; Chapped lips (Candace Chapman) who turned in the box and finished a thru-ball from freshman Ashley Jones; and Cha-Cha (Christie Shaner) who headed a free kick from Claire into the back of the net. The next morning, we headed out to practice … so much for a recovery day. After an intense two hours, we returned to the hotel for lunch. Lunch was followed by an amazing game of sand volleyball. Mary Boland carried her team … if carrying means struggling hardcore! Let’s just say her teammates started pushing her out of the way when the ball was coming to her. Chappie was a terror up against the net, despite the fact that she only has one ACL. The rest of the team lounged by the pool, soaking up the sun and dreaming of the days spent like this back in the Bend … oh, wait, there aren’t days like this in South Bend! The rest of the day was spent walking and shopping in the largest mall in South America. [Editor’s note: it also features the world’s largest ceramic chick, as in baby chicken, which is perched in the air and serves as the mall’s mascot, beckoning people from miles around to come in and drop some Reals on stuff they probably don’t need]. Turns out the place was a huge D-U-D … it was a very unsuccessful attempt at a shopping spree for most. Dinner was another night at the “meateria” (Brazilian table-carving steakhouse) … third night in six days! No one was more excited than “her” to see that friendly slab of meat on a stick. Unfortunately, the dessert tray was M.I.A. but we did get some tasty ice cream and Renzi (Kim Lorenzen) had a field day with a fried banana. Tomorrow, we’ll dine with some local alumni in Sao Paulo before beginning the long journey home. As we sit here on our last night, the girls are all sad to leave sunny Brazil but also excited to get back to the hustle and bustle of the school year back in our beloved Bend. See y’all soon, HOLLER to the NUBS and GO IRISH! Claire “Bear Jenkins” (Gallerano), “Big Bad” Becky Tweneboah and Kari “Mertle” Kennedy