May 23, 2007
Kuwait City, Kuwait – We got into Kuwait with no travel problems, although it took a little while to get through customs. It’s 120 degrees and really dry here. At least the gym is air conditioned!
This morning we met with Colonel Alexander, the commander here at Camp Arifjan where we are staying. He talked to us about strategy and what they are doing over here. It was staggering to hear about the logistical things they do, moving men and equipment. It’s interesting that there are a couple of hard buildings on the base, but everything else has wheels and is mobile. There are about 9000 soldiers here.
I’m over here to coach a team in a tournament between the bases in Kuwait. I’m the coach of LSA, a base that is about an hour away from Arifjan. They process people as they head into and then out of Iraq. I’d say the team I’m coaching is the youngest of all the teams – they’re young and quick! I’ve got a talented guard from Lansing, Michigan on my team, another soldier from California, and really they are from all over. I’ve also got two assistant coaches, two sergeants from LSA.
There are three teams from Arifjan, with Arifjan 1 and 2 being the strongest. We had a heck of a win this morning over Arifjan 1, but lost tonight to Virginia, which is another base about an hour away from Arifjan. So we’re 1-1 in pool play with one more game tomorrow. Then everyone enters the double elimination tournament which starts on Friday.
You know, I’ve traveled all over the world and I’m certainly used to seeing soldiers in other countries carrying their weapons. It’s very different to be here and see OUR soldiers carrying their weapons – rifles in the dining hall, my two assistant coaches sitting on the bench with their pistols strapped on their backs.
Tonight we had a question and answer session and signed some autographs. There were lots of questions about college athletics. Tomorrow morning, I’m in the group of six coaches who don’t have a morning game, and we are going to visit the Kuwaiti Naval Base. This is the area that Iraq invaded back in the early 90’s and was the scene of many horrific cruelties. They tell me there are a lot of memorials set up there, and I’m sure it will be a powerful experience.
One of the neat things has been meeting the people here from South Bend. Susan Soisson, who works in Notre Dame’s Business School, came to both of our games today and I had a chance to talk with her and tell her about all of the changes on campus in the last year. I know she’s excited to get back to her family in July. And I met another 1st Sgt from South Bend who is going home on Friday. So it was nice to be playing our games and see people in Notre Dame shirts behind our bench!
I’ll check in again tomorrow…