It was 5 a.m. on Thursday, March 27, 2019, when 14 boys from the FC Wheeling United U-14 soccer team became a part of a long-standing Wheeling “send-off” tradition by convening at the White Palace parking lot in Wheeling Park. Joined by at least one parent and Coach Tony, each boy carried a packed bag containing uniforms, soccer balls, swim trunks and a collection of donated soccer clothing and equipment. Their crusted sleepy eyes could not hide the excitement, evident in the spring in their step as they marched onto the charter bus.
They are ready for an adventure of a lifetime.
They are also unsure of what exactly the adventure is going to be.
Our first day led us to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., a day ahead of our long flight to Argentina from Dulles International. Our idea was to expose the boys to one last bit of American government and culture and provide a reference point for the coming week. The coming week that will be spent in another hemisphere that is.
Leaving Wheeling / White Palace
Campbell: I got up at 4:30. I was exhausted, and I knew I was going to forget something, which I did (headphones). When we got there, I packed up my stuff and went onto the bus.
Owen: We had already packed the night before so everything was ready. My siblings never acknowledged us leaving. They didn’t even wake up.
Bus to DC
Campbell: We had a lot of fun on the bus ride to DC. We listened to music and we watched memes.
“It is impossible to pee in here Earl (bus driver)!”- Marius’s dad.
Owen: I probably had four different seats. Each one was very loud. Campbell acquired a new name after he spilled all of his crackers.
“Organic is better”- Campbell Koegler.
DC United, Audi Stadium Tour
Campbell: This is, by far, the coolest stadium I have ever been to. We got to tour the VIP box and the locker room, and we even got to walk on the field! Chris (tour guide) was a great worker. The whole team loved him.
“Chris is the new captain of DC United.”-Ben Shields
Owen: Definitely the largest and best-looking soccer stadium I have ever seen. There was a car in the stadium that everyone seemed to enjoy, I didn’t care much about it, but everyone else liked it.
“I’m hungry” – Mike Blanton
Metro / Lunch / Dupont Circle
Campbell: I ate Peruvian Chicken at Dupont Circle with Max and Conner. We all had cheese and chicken quesadillas.
“All the ass-clowns in DC have Air-Pods” – Jason Koegler.
(Which, of course, is not true.)
Owen: Most people went to Panera but four of us went to Krispy Kreme for lunch. Then we got to Du Pont Circle and learned that there was an abandoned mall underneath the ground.
“I’ll ride that scooter”- Carl
Campbell: At the Argentine embassy my team had fun. A woman talked to us about what an embassy was and also about Argentina. We all learned how cool Argentina was. The following quote had me very interested …
“Argentina is like America except it is up-side-down so they have very different climates” – Maritza, our Tour Guide.
Owen: There was a statue of a big head that was probably really heavy and I have no idea who it was or why it was there. I will try to find out in Argentina. One room had a few replicas of a space station, a jet and a plane.
“ Messi or Ronaldo?” – overheard while the Argentine diplomat was speaking to us.
(Easy answer here)
White House / Mall / Walking / Lincoln Memorial
Campbell: I have to tell you I hate walking, especially with my alien (VANS) shoes, but walking around DC and seeing all these historic monuments was really cool.
“Abraham Lincoln was a really smart dude” – Anonymous.
Owen: Everything we went to see was cool, but walking was horrible. At one point we walked somewhere, did nothing, then walked back. The bus was so late and we were all ready to go to the hotel.
Next Up: Day 2, our all-day travel day to Cordoba, Argentina. Although it will mark a first for most of the boys and adults involved, we will take this day off with our series and get ready for a huge day, a day we have been looking forward to for a very long time.
This series is sponsored by the generous support of Stratford Springs Family Restaurant.