Alex DeYoung is a goaltender representing the United States with the Team USA Junior Men's Inline Hockey Team in the 2012 Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS) World Championships in Bucaramanga, Colombia from June 30 to July 14. Alex is a high school student in Northern Virginia, and the only member of the 16-player team from Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Area. Over the next few weeks, he will be writing about the tournament from his perspective.
The opening ceremony that we just got back from is something that I'll never forget.
When we arrived at the arena, we were taken to our seats where we met all of the other teams. Most of the players on our team are friends with the players from other countries that we've played against these last few years. Our teammate, Carl Weedman, introduced us to the Brazilian team we played earlier today, and then they introduced us to some of the Brazilian Women's team.
After all of the teams arrived, we were taken outside the arena and each team was led around the rink by a Colombian cheerleader that had been assigned to our country. As we were introduced to the crowd, we got the most cheers from the crowd aside from the Colombian team. After all of the teams had been taken around the rink and escorted to their seats, the FIRS committee made a speech, and then had a Colombian dance team and a salsa dancer perform.
The World Championships are way more popular down here than any of us thought. Random people on the streets will recognize our team and ask about us. The arena was packed with thousands of people, and later on during our bus ride to the hotel, we were stopped at a red light and saw the event being broadcast on national TV at a local bar. When I was walking to the snack bar at the rink, I was stopped by tons of people that wanted me to do something with a camera. I don't speak a lot of Spanish, and I thought they wanted me to take a photo for them, but I was surprised when they had our translator tell me that they wanted a photo with me. Hopefully I'll make it into a few Colombian people's profile pictures on Facebook. Some of the Colombian cheerleaders gave me and my friend Adrian their Facebooks and phone numbers, but I don't plan on paying for international phone calls anytime soon.
Right after the opening ceremony ended, the Swiss and Colombian teams played each other in the first game of the tournament. The players names were announced when they got onto the rink. The crowd was very loud, and they went crazy whenever Colombia scored a goal. The game ended in a 2-2 tie.
When we were leaving the rink, there was a crowd of people around our bus who wanted to meet and take photos with us, but our coaches and security wouldn't let us off the bus.
Tomorrow we have a trip to Colombia's version of the Grand Canyon, [Chicamocha National Park, about 30 miles from Bucaramanga]. My mother will also be flying in tomorrow to see me play. I wish my sister, Denia DeYoung, could come, too, as I know she would love to meet the Women's USA Team.
To anyone in the VA/DC area reading this, I hope you are all safe with the crazy storms that passed through.