Toledo Head Women’s Soccer Coach Brad Evans is writing about his trip to the XXX Olympiad to watch UT senior and soccer co-captain Natalia Gaitàn play for her home country Colombia.
Let the adventure begin! And so it has, sitting at 39,000 feet and heading toward Glasgow, Scotland, via Amsterdam. Traveling with me are UT Photographer Dan Miller and UT Videographer Chris Mercadante.Over the course of the next eight days, I’ll do my best to chronicle the story of Natalia Gaitàn and the Colombia women’s national soccer team, which will make its first appearance in the Olympics. For those who don’t know, Gaitàn will be a senior on UT women’s team this fall.
Dan, Chris and I grabbed dinner at the Detroit Metro Airport around 5 p.m. Tuesday, July 24, before boarding our Delta flight to Glasgow. As with most Transatlantic flights, we’ll be flying through the night with a scheduled arrival time in Glasgow at around 12:30 p.m. today. So, let’s do the math: Awake at 6:30 a.m. yesterday and in the air around 14 hours after that, approximately a seven-hour flight, add a three-hour layover in Amsterdam (no, no one will be leaving the airport), tack on another hour-and-a-half flight, and you get just over one full day.
Upon arrival, we have to make our way to our hotel in the heart of Glasgow via public transport. After checking in, we’ll make a short trek to visit Natalia at her hotel and pick up game tickets. Then off to watch the United States take on France (5 p.m. local time) and Colombia against North Korea (7:45 p.m. local time) at the Scottish National Stadium, Hampden Park. Best I can figure, that makes for about a 36-hour day.
In Natalia’s last email that I received just before boarding the plane to Glasgow, she wrote she was more nervous and excited than she ever remembers being. Even though playing in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup last summer in Germany was an amazing accomplishment for Natalia and her Colombian team, there seems to be something even more uniquely special about being called an Olympian.
Natalia also informed me that there is more security and protocol than she’s ever encountered. I’m just honored and thankful that we get the opportunity to share that experience with her and watch her lead her team on the field tomorrow.
Right now, we’re off to catch our flight to Glasgow. More to follow later!