Tuesday, January 14, 2014

We are almost ready to head Down Under

Just a few more days until the USA team heads for Melbourne, Australia!  Everyone is very excited.  Email are flying back and forth trying to make sure we have packed everything we need.  Our bedroom is covered in several piles of what goes where, but don't forget to put this there. The trick is to get it into 3 suitcases and still meet the weight limit.  I will address this is my next blog.

The uniforms have arrived and Katherine has put on every single piece.  Right down to the socks, Athletes Without Limits Team USA will look like the stars that they are. Thanks to Champion designed the uniforms and is a sponsor.  Katherine says they feel like wearing pajamas, so they definitely pass the test! There are several shirts, but this gives you a sneak peak.

What do we know so far.....It will be hot.  This week the temperature is expected to be in the high 90's to 105!  I doubt we will be wearing the warm up around, but it will be our outfit on the plane. The temps expected to down about 10 degrees during our tournament. It will be a welcome change to most of us and more like July in Texas without the humidity!

The history of this tournament is quite interesting.  I contacted the CEO of Ausrapid.  This organization does not put on events but works with the National Sporting Organizations in Australian to develop pathways for people with intellectual disabilities "with the focus on ability and ensuring that the athlete becomes a swimmer, track athlete, tennis player, etc."  The focus is on the sport.  They do not think of themselves as a disability organization but instead "using sport to showcase the skills and the ease which a sport can expand to include all people wanting to play." (They said it better than I ever could.)

Tennis Australia manages The Australian Open.  Each year, the tournament the USA players will be playing in has gained a bit more recognition from The Open.  While the prelims are played outside Melbourne Park, the finals will be!  So, for all of you who have so kindly asked when Katherine will be on TV, I am sorry to say we are not quite there yet.  However, the steady recognition has put these players in the right direction. I have no doubt it will happen.  Maybe next year there will even be a tab on the Open website!

There will be 43 players in the tournament.  The event has attracted players from Japan, Czech Republic, Poland and other countries.  It is an internationally sanctioned tournament.

We will be leaving on Friday, the 17th and arriving in Melbourne on the 19th.  While the flights are long ones, the experience is going to be fantastic.  The hospitality has already been incredible with so many activities for us to enjoy when the players are not playing their own matches.  Being able to watch some of The Open matches and "cheering on their teammates" as Katherine says, will be so much fun.  I love the way she puts herself on the same team as the ones you WILL see on TV! 

Back to packing!