Hawks in Brazil
Courtesy: SJU Athletic Communications  
Release:  02/29/2008


- February 27 - Lauren Stevis
February has finally arrived! Our whole team has been waiting for this month and this trip for so long! After months of fundraising we are definitely ready for some real Brazil talk! The jean sale was an amazing boost of confidence in our financial preparations with almost $3500 made in profits. Fitness twice a week was challenging but thoughts of Brazilian soccer and white, sandy beaches pushed us through. Our busy soccer schedule helped calm our anticipation until the day we received the finalized itinerary. From that day on the preparation process began moving forward at full speed.

Our whole team met with Don Dijulia, Jim Brown, other school directors and a Brazilian native who gave us detailed advice on security. Although tensions may have risen about the foreign obstacles awaiting us, the friendly Brazilian students we met with a week later melted them away completely. These kind young men and women revealed the exciting social aspects of Brazil that were awaiting us; which included everything from popular night clubs to common Portuguese phrases.

As the final week before Brazil winds down and our tanning packages are beginning to expire, we are finally scheduling our manicure/pedicure appointments and arranging trips to Target for our last minute purchases. I don't think any of us will believe that this trip is actually happening until American Airlines lands us at the airport in Rio. Although I can't predict the weather and I'm not sure how much I will like the food, I DO know that this spring break will be an experience i will never forget!

February 29 - Raeann Groves
We were very excited because finally the day of departure had arrived. As freshman, we were the laughing stock of Saint Joseph's dragging our over-packed luggage across campus while everyone else was walking to class. After our arms fell off, we got on the bus to leave for the Philadelphia Airport. We flew to Miami and we were starving! So naturally, there WOULD NOT have anything to eat in the Miami Airport, but we made do with Cheese-Itz and Trail Mix. After our 4 hour layover it was back on the plane for an overnight flight to RIO DE JANEIRO. The only freshman who remembers any of the flight would be Sawyer (she doesn't sleep) because the rest of us were passed out from our Tylenol PM before the plane took off.

At 7:00 AM we arrived at Customs in the Rio airport. After being checked for metal and small animals we were out of the airport and into the most comfortable bus we have ever been on. We drove for about two hours outside of Rio de Janeiro to a smaller town called Buzios. When we got to our hotel we went straight to the soccer fields for practice. It was amazing because all the locals came out to watch us practice and small children even came out to help us collect balls when we missed the goal. We were verysurprised to find how soccer was the center of their culture, obviously very different from the United States. For the end of the night we went to downtown Buzios, which is a nice shopping town with restaurants and bars lining cobble stone streets.

March 2 - Lauren Sutcliffe
We woke up early (8:30!!! I know I cant believe it either) excited to hit the beach and get that famous Brazilian tan. But first breakfast of course. There was a lovely spread of rolls, ham, fresh watermelon and papaya, and cereal resembling frosted Flakes. To drink they actually had fresh squeezed orange and watermelon juice. It was delicious!

Time to hit the beach! We walked about 5 minutes and we immediately threw down our towels and jumped in the water ( it felt like it was 200 degrees out there!) The waves and current were really strong. ( they actually knocked me over) We then relaxed and laid on the beach for a few hours. There were a lot of vendors who were selling things like bathing suits, to jewelery and corn! ( yea it was really weird) We packed up and got ready for our first game.

We drove down a bumpy dirt road to a small town which house the 2 month old stadium we were playing in. It was called Estadio Amaro Mota de Olibeira. As we took the field a lot of people filled the stands, and it started to pour. the storm rolled in off the mountain right behind the stadium. We won 7-1 but the best part was exchanging shirts and taking pictures after the game.

The crowd ended up on the field wanting shirts, pictures and autographs (we felt like celebrities!) We piled back onto the bust tired but very happy.

Back at the hotel we showerd and got ready for dinner. We headed to downtown Buzios for the best buffet I've ever had. There was everything from fish to steak to paella (oh and there is a Brazilian soda called Guarana you have to try; it is amazing!). We then did some shopping and headed back to the hotel. what a great day! Cant wait for the boat tomorrow!

March 3 - The Juniors
Hey, to everyone back in the US! Today we woke up to blue skies and wonderful warm weather for our second home cooked breakfast. We had a break from practice due to our planned boat ride around the breathtaking Bouzios, beaches. After breakfast we took our bus to downtown Bouzios where Cesar helped us to our boat. Each of us planted our towels on the flat platform where we sunbathed and waited to arrive to each of the four beaches. When we arrived to each beach the boat stopped and we were able to then jump into the water and either just swim around the boat or swim to shore. Halfway through the boat ride Cesar led us down to the bottom of the ship where tropical fruit awaited us. After the satisfaction of the succulent Brazilian fruits we walked back to the top of the boat to soak up more sun rays (Some more than others (cough) Amanda (cough)) When our boat ride was over we enjoyed lunch in downtown Bouzios. After, we left to go back to the hotel where we layed by the pool and relaxed. That night we had another home cooked meal at the hotel, where we were able to experience some authentic Brazilian foods. After dinner we called it an early night because we were tired from the sun and we wanted to rest up for out trip to Rio and our soccer game the next day!

Love, The Juniors.

Raeann Groves

After a team breakfast in the hotel, we left to see one of the world wonders, Christ the Redeemer. It is a huge statue of Christ on top of what seems to be the largest mountain top in Rio. We made our way up the mountain on a trolley and it took about 20 minutes to reach the top. Once we climbed the final steps to the top, the view was absolutely breathtaking. We were looking down at all of Rio while standing at the feet of this magnificent statue. Besides taking massive amounts of pictures and taking in the view, there was a bunch of gift shops with beautiful Rosary beads and souvenirs. We were also surrounded by many tourists that had come from all over the world. We overheard people speaking Italian, French, and even Chinese.

The afternoon was spent lounging at the beach and up on the hotel's rooftop pool. It was another extremely hot day and perfect for tanning. Vendors on the beach sold everything from necklaces and bracelets to hundreds of bathing suit tops that the whole team seemed to love. The beach also was filled with different stands that offered food and drinks. There were even McDonald's and T.G.I Friday's stands.

After a long day of the sun and the strong heat, we showered and prepared for dinner at the hotel. Once again, it was another delicious Brazilian buffet that offered steak, chicken, pasta, fruit and vegetables.

Finally, it was time for the soccer game. As we got off the bus we were greeted by many Brazilian soccer fans. We had our security man which was a hired security guard named Marcos. We also had our buff and tough Chris Bagley, trainer Ryan, and Coach Mitch as well, who helped us make it safely into the stadium. We watched a premier Brazilian team play against an Argentinean team. The game was a great experience that none of us will ever forget. The Brazilian fans were insane. We never witnessed such passionate people about a sport until then. The whole stadium would chant in unison with what seemed like every play of the game and the fans had the wave down pat. They were waving their team's flags, banners, and setting off light flashers, along with other things that are illegal in US soccer games. As the game went on, we purchased soccer jerseys and wore them to watch the home team win 6-0. All the girls also seemed to have bonded quite nicely with all the young Brazilian fans. There were many marriage proposals but don't worry no one accepted. After the game we went home to the hotel and rested our newly tanned bodies for the next day.

March 4 - Jen Kuhn
After having one last breakfast in the hotel in Buzios, we left for Rio. It´s amazing how different the scenery is from the US. Everything is so green!! We stopped at a rest stop for lunch and there was a school field trip there also. These kids must have thought that we were the American national team because they were asking for our autographs left and right as well as taking tons of pictures. Once we finally left the madness we got back on the bus for another hour long bus ride to our game. When we arrived in Rio we went straight to the game. This area was much more dangerous so we had to stay as a group all the time. The game was a once in a lifetime experience. It was awesome to play against such a good Brazilian team. They made each step and play look a piece of cake and they never gave up. We ended up losing but scores don´t matter here, it´s all about the experience. After the game we headed to our Hotel in downtown Rio. Just looking out the windows of the bus was amazing. Since Rio is one of the biggest cities in Brazil, it was so important that we stayed together. Thankfully Ceser, his friend Rene, and our bodyguard Carlos were there to help us . After we got showered we headed off to this amazing pizza place. We sat down and the waiters just brought by tons of different kinds of pizza to choose from. They have chicken, shrimp and even steak and French fry pizzas! they best was their array of desert pizzas with ice cream. It was a great way to end our first day in Rio!!!