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Jared and James Journal

ImageJared and James Brunmeier detail all of their exciting exploits playing footy for the West Perth Falcons of the West Australian Football League in Australia.

February 16 

Camp with the Falcons

I look up from watching my sweat drop like rain to the pavement as my calf muscles start to cramp to the back of the yute I'm helping push up a hill that seems to never end. My dirt stained finger smears stare back at me from the tailgate as Callium Chambers shouts out a cadence encouraging the rest of us on the Green Mango team to keep fighting over this last hill.  It is approaching 7pm and my mind, like my legs is a bit numb.  In between leg spasms I try and recreate the events that brought myself and the rest of the teams the make up the West Perth Falcons to point of current exhaustion. 


It started that morning on the 10th of February with the alarm buzzing at 5am in my darkened room.  Our coach Todd Curley's warning still ringing in my head from Wednesday training session; "Be at Sorrento Beach this Saturday for the start of camp at 6am sharp.  DO NOT BE LATE!!!" I quickly dressed, finished packing my bag for the weekend and ate a light breakfast.  James and I were on the road by 5:30am, predictably we were the only car on the road as we made our way to the appointed beach. 

It was a chilly morning as we all huddled together listening to Todd give us the course layout for our first activity of Falcon camp 2007.  It was a run-swim-run with the first leg being a little over 5km run.  Secondly the swim which involved swimming around the far side of one groin (a large out cropping of rocks that jutes into the ocean...don't ask why they are called groins...I don't have clue) to the far side of another, a distance of a couple hundred meters.  The final run was along the soft sand of the beach back to the starting point. 

With a shout we were off and the day began.  The pace out of the blocks was pretty quick.  There were 52 participants, you could score points for your team based on where you finished.  For example whoever won would get 52 points for their team, 2nd would get 51 points for their team and so on down to the last person.  Heading into the ocean from the 5km run I was around the top 10.  Any lead I had I promptly lost on entering the water, I soon found I didn't have any fish attributes and watched people I had passed in the run skim by me in the water as if I was standing still.  I dragged myself out of the water breathing a sigh of relief that the swim was over and I was only partially water logged. I managed to make up a little ground on the final run but finished around the 20 mark. 

Phil Smith won the event with apparent ease, unfortunately for him and his team, the Knights, his points were nullified because someone from their team forgot their team colors on the beach after we left.  The final piece of drama in the morning involved someone being late.  As a punishment we had to do 200 pushups on the beach with the gentleman who was late doing the counting, not a lot of fun after what we just went through! 

From the beach we headed up the coast about a Kilometer to the Ern Halliday camp where we would be staying at for the duration of camp.  After a breakie of cold cereal and toast we were piling back into cars and headed to a local oval for a training session.  Everyone was pretty jacked up since the first scratch match is only a week away.  We had probably one of the best training sessions all year with intensity and skills looking very sharp.  An impressive feat considering what we had already done in the morning. 

After training the morning and early afternoon was taken up by various "classroom" activities.  A WAFL umpire came to the camp and went over some new rules and interpretations. We had cold sandwiches for lunch, then sat down and ran through some game scenarios with a large rope representing the boundaries and Coke cans representing Falcon players and Lemonade cans representing the opposition.  After receiving a bad tip from Dan Hunt saying "don't make eye contact with Todd or he'll call on you",Anthony Tsalikis (or Slick) had to be the first to demonstrate what he would do in a certain game situation by moving the cans around.  Dan Hunt (or Mado) didn't escape Todd either and was called on to explain another game situation right after Slick. 

After the soda's and rope were put away West Perth's CEO, Ken Torrance, gave a bit of a talk on the club.  He covered a wide range of topics from the club's financial goals to different events and opportunities coming up throughout the year.  After his talk we had a bit of a break with some of the guys played a little cricket in front of the lodges and then straight into team building.  

The first session of team building was put on by camp staff and consisted of various games that required a bit of thought and teamwork to beat the other teams.  One of the games had everyone in your team tied together in what amounted to a big knot and the first team to untangle themselves received the points.  At the end of the session the Mango's and Bad News Bears tied for first place and settled the tie breaker the old fashion way...Tug of War.  The Mango's were a bit cocky going into the tug of war because the Joe's appeared to be a bit confused on strategy, however when the whistle sounded and the pulling started they pretty well pulled us off our feet to take the win...I'll blame it the lose on their weight advantage. 

Following the camps activities we then proceeded to do team building activities designed by our fitness coach, Chris Dorman.  These had us pushing a small car around a course to see which team could do it the fastest, to carrying logs up hills.  The Mango's, who had been fielding one of the smallest teams number wise on the day had to finish with pushing a yute up a hill, down the other side and then back up the hill.  Exhausted and undermanned we somehow managed the feat, finally able to stagger to the showers to get cleaned up for dinner.  Well after 7pm all the teams shuffle into the dinning hall and discuss "Falcons Behavior" as Sass cooks our dinner of steak, sausages and burgers. 

Major points were awarded after dinner for a list of items the coaching staff had put together in a scavenger hunt scheme.  The Mango's ALMOST cleaned house in the points totals coming in a close second to the Knights.  Our high ticket item of the night was an autographed picture specifically to the Mango's from Australian Cricketer Mike Hussey (Hussey is doing extremely well at the moment for Australia and was only trumped by an autographed picture from the now retired Shane Warne). 

The night kept getting later as the "Scavenger Hunt" finished up.  One final activity remained, group presentations on a topic given to each team by Todd a couple weeks ago. There were two standout presentations of the night.  One good, one not so good.  We'll start with the not so good one.  The Knights happen to take this honor as well as the privilege of going first.  Presentations were supposed to be 6-8 minutes in length...theirs was cut off by Todd after about 20 minutes with 3 or 4 people left to speak, I don't think anyone was snoring but I my attention could have wandered.  The good presentation happened to be the last one of the night by the Bad News Bears.   They brought some humor and excitement into the mix by doing a skit to emphasize their point.  I was a good way to end the night. 

And end the night it did.  By this time it was after 11pm and we were falling asleep on our feet.  Todd gave us an hour reprieve the next morning pushing our beach session back from 6am to 7am.  None the less it felt like my eyes had just closed when Team Manager Ryan Lasscock's woke us up with his baritone voice.  It was a bit chilly as we stumbled to the cars and hit the beach for a recovery session which involved some wading through the water and a brief swim.  After that it was breakfast and then the last activity of the camp, orienteering, put on by our friends at Ern Halladay Camp. 

The concept of orienteering is you are given a map of the surrounding area with different check points.  When you get to a check point there will be a little hole punch that you mark your map in the appropriate spot and move to the next point until complete.  The team to find and punch all the check points first wins.  Of course it couldn't be that simple for us after everything we had been through.  A wrinkle was thrown into the rules where each team would have to do the course as a rely, one team member would have to go off and find one marker, punch the map, come back to the start, hand the map off to the next team member and away they went. 

To say there wasn't any cheating would be a statement of naivety.  Everyone was pretty well exhausted and rumors swirled of team members punching multiple check points at a time, a blatant rule breach but one that was never proved or argued very hard...since it seemed the only consistent tactic.  All in all the points gained by the winning team in this event didn't do anything to change the overall winner, but it did do enough to switch the last and second last team standings! 

With all the points now in, the weekend camp was coming to a close.  Todd gave us 15 minutes to pack our bags and load our things into our cars and then meet in the cafeteria for the points announcement.  In last place came the Bad News Bears who dropped to last place due to orienteering.  In first place came the Knights who had lead the competition through most of the weeks leading up to camp and with their win came a $500 cash prize given to Knight Captain Jason Salesic to divide how he saw fit. 

Camp ended with each team singing a song they created specifically for camp.   The Bloods stole the show with a contemporary remake of Vanilla Ice's; "Ice Ice Baby" and fittingly the Bad News Bears sang the worst song that’s ending was met with silence and a few chuckles. 

Reflecting back on the camp and its physical difficulties it was a worth while accomplishment.  One more step in jellying West Perth players together as a team by giving them a common experience that can be used as a fall back when times are tough.  The best news about finishing the camp would probably be it's the last weekend we spend not playing a game with our first scratch match happening on the 18th...about time!!!



January 21

When we finished preseason training on December 20, we had no idea what we were in for during the holiday. The time was a crash course in Australian culture and a stark contrast to our Christmas back home. We spent Christmas eve at Tony Fairhead's apartment in Fremantle and then accompanied him in the morning to his polar bear club for a bone chilling swim in the Indian Ocean. After our swim we attempted to thaw out with a hot cup of tea and toast. The guys at the club got quite a kick out the fact that we were shaking uncontrollably from the swim, in spite of the fact we come from Wisconsin. I fear we are becoming soft in Perth's warm climate.

After our early morning swim we drove with Brett and Zareena down to Mandurah, which is an hour and a half south of Perth, to be with Brett's family. This was Jared and I's first Christmas away from home and we were not disappointed. As the Aussies say, it was pretty full on. We chatted in the backyard with the family, had a few beers, ate a massive lunch, woke Brett up from his attempted nap, played some backyard cricket(our first time playing cricket), went for a swim at the beach and played two on two touch football where Brett and I dominated Jared and Steven, Brett's cousin. After that was dinner, which was another huge meal, then dessert, and finally a game of hearts that took us to about midnight. We could have rolled ourselves to bed we had eaten so much. To compare our Christmas' is not possible. Contrasting them is easy. We can start with our swim in the ocean first thing in the morning and then touch football on the beach. Backyard cricket. Shorts, T-shirts, sunglasses. We would have to call ahead to the hospital to report our impending cases of hypothermia if we wanted to do all that in Wisconsin.

The following day was Boxing Day. The vice-captain of West Perth Jason and his brother Adam threw a party at their place. Sunshine, stubbies and cricket were the main attractions of the day. One of the players, Branche, fell victim to a minor injury when he bobbled a easy catch during the cricket. He managed to catch it but tweaked his knee in the process. Catching the ball is quite celebrated so the team proceeded to pile onto him which did not help his cause much. He has missed the first few weeks of training but now looks poised to join again at full strength. If only he would have caught the ball instead of trying to be dramatic. Ahh, the confidence of youth.

During the break we also had the opportunity to meet Wayne Clark, the head coach of the Western Warriors cricket side. Although he is not a West Perth supporter he was gracious enough to give Jared and I advice on what we need to do to succeed in footy. Not surprisingly, there is no easy way to excel without hard work and enthusiasm. He suggested focusing on our weaknesses that are not addressed during training with the team. Be it repetitive marking drills, kicking or hand balling, he encouraged us to supplement training with our own skills sessions to improve those areas. He even suggested carrying footies with us wherever we go just to become more comfortable with the ball. Sadly, Brett has vetoed that at home. We were putting too many marks on the newly painted walls.

Team training started again on January 8. Now, instead of straight fitness workouts, the fitness will be worked into the ball drills. The coaches also divided us into six teams. The teams compete against each other until camp in mid February. Each team was responsible to come up with a team name and color. My team is the Bloods. our color is red and to differentiate ourselves we wear red bandanas on our heads. Other team names are the Knights, the Green Mangos, the Average Joes, the Scorpions, and the Bad News Bears. Each team gets points for attendance, winning handball games, and basically besting the other teams in any competition the coach fancies. One particularly grueling competition was called the rope of torture. Everyone had to get down into the pushup position, hold onto a long rope and "walk" forward on their hands without the butt going into the air or the knees touching the ground. The first three to get out lost points for their team while the final five gained pointed. One player, a Green Mango, lost points for his team as a result of, as Todd Curley explained, sportsmanship unbecoming of a Falcon. We won't mention any names but this Green Mango allegedly waited until the first three players had dropped out, then looked up at the coach, laughed and dropped the rope, thinking that he was free from penalty. No so though, much to the disappointment of the Green Mangos and the delight of the other teams.

As well as forming teams, we were once again tested in the 3k and the beep test. I could not best Jared in the 3K time trial. He ran a 10:37 and once again I ran a 10:40. So close. But I did beat him in the beep test. He ran a 13.2 and I struggled to a 13.7. The beep tests results were well off our bests but in my book a win is a win. Looking ahead to this week, it will be more of the same except for Friday, Australia Day. We will have the joy of another beach workout at eight in the morning, this time at Scarborough. I feel confident that the pain will be worth the nice relaxing three day weekend.

West Perth Pre-season Training Phase One for Jared and James:  COMPLETE

It was a cool Monday night on December 18th, the second lot of fitness testing had begun as we were heading into Christmas break and some needed recovery time.  Having finished our 3km time trial, West Perth Coach Toddy Curley brought us in to a tight huddle to say a few words before we dispersed for the night.  He had positive comments to say about the team and how we’ve improved since the start of pre-seasoning training five and a half weeks ago.

That tripped my mind over, five and a half weeks?!  Has it been that long already?  If I didn’t stop to think about it I would have sworn only 3 weeks or so had gone by, but as the old saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun”. 

And fun we had.  Trainings had slowing been ramping up in intensity and expectations.  We kept the same format though the last couple weeks of one session all skills, one session all running, and one session half skills, half running.  The coaching staff mixed these days around Monday, Wednesday or Friday to keep us on our toes.  Tuesday/Thursday we were expected to lift weights at the club. 

The training sessions that were all skills were the most fun.  The players would split up into six equal teams.  There would be three fields set up of varying size, each of which would have a different hand ball game to simulate game situations.  The six teams would rotate through the different games playing different teams in a round robin. 

The idea behind the hand ball games was to start bringing players back up to match awareness; there wasn’t any tackling in the games with the concept of reward without risk.  Players could now concentrate on moving the ball effectively towards a goal to score points without having to worry about being tackled.  This made the games very fast and flowing with turnovers happening when the defensive team swatted the ball out of a players hand; the offensive gave a poor handball that resulted in the ball touching the ground, or the defensive knocking a handball away or intercepting it.

Each field was officiated by a coach or senior player.  Todd had one field, Clayton Lasscock (nicknamed Junior) had another and Jason Salecic had the final one.  Along with officiating the games Todd, Junior and Jason would coach teams on the field as well, pointing out what improvements needed to happen or what this particular game was trying to accomplish whether that be tight man defense or working the ball forward using two on one situations.

The games were a lot of fun but very challenging at the same time.  Fitness takes on a new meaning when you start running full out but then incorporate trying to move a ball up the field using hand passes and then trying to defend against a team doing the same.  These types of practices were good eye openers for us showing that we could get the ball but really needed to work on our skills to make clean hand passes to our teammates especially when we are under pressure. 

Beach running made an appearance as one of our all running sessions.  At first we were pretty excited to be running on the beach during a gorgeous evening; however our strength and conditioning coach Chris Dorman soon made it clear that we weren’t here for the views.  After doing a couple sets of 40 meter sprints through the sand everyone was pretty much over beach running, which if you’ve never ran on loose sand is quite hard.  Our session didn’t stop there; we had to do a couple sets of continuous running with pace changes up and down the beach and ended the night with more sprints.  A couple guys were dry heaving by the time we finished.  The highlight of the session was a recovery swim in the ocean…fantastic!  After a challenging workout to then cool off in the ocean was something in Wisconsin we never had the opportunity to do, it was amazing!

And so looking back the weeks did fly by and fitness testing was upon us again.  Same format as last time with the 3km time trial on Monday December 18th, Weight testing on Tuesday December 19th and Beep Test on Wednesday December 20th.  The 3km time trial saw faster times than five and a half weeks ago showing a major improvement by everyone.  The average improvement was 20-30 seconds, a very good effort!  Ray Bartholomew (aka Razor, 10:31) and Cameron Branch (aka Branchy, 10:37) lead the pack with James and I not too far behind (Jared 10:38, James 10:40).

Our weight testing the next day was interrupted by power failure at the Sports Arena; however we’ll blame our failure to record personal bests in weights due to accumulated fatigue from training…yah that sounds good.  Wednesday brought the beep test which again showed massive improvements by everyone with Razor and Branchy being the standouts for a second event of the week.  James improved his time to 13:13 while I had to sit out due to a hip injury.

With the beep test complete our two week break started for the Christmas Holidays.  Chris passed out a work out sheet listing what was expected of each player over the holidays to keep their fitness level up to avoid injury when training picks up full speed in a couple weeks.  The evening finished with the club putting on a small BBQ for the players as a send off.  It was a good end to a preseason that gave us a taste of Footy in Australia and what we need to do to get a spot with West Perth. 

Merry Christmas to everyone back in the States, hope everyone has a safe and fun Holiday Season!     

Perth Week in Review: 11/30/2006

The arms begin to go numb around the 200 push-up mark. The day is Wednesday, which means skills training with light fitness. Light except for the push-ups that is. Each lap we take between kicking drills we have to do 100 push-ups. I have never had to do this many push-ups and it shows.

Training had started about an hour ago with a warm-up lap, stretching and light run-throughs. From that we went into a simple handball drill which incorporated high handballs and handballs along the ground. After our first lap and 100 push-ups we went into a kicking drill with eight groups set up in a small oval kicking to the group across from them. Every few minutes we rotated counterclockwise so that we kicked from every station.

The lap after the kicking drill is where I find myself in a world of hurt. I decide I will run sprints over push-ups any time. After that second lap we launch into another kicking drill that utilizes longer kicks. So the night continues. Kicking drill, lap, push-ups, pain, push-ups, kicking drill, lap, push-ups, more pain, more push-ups. We end up doing somewhere around 400 push-ups. By the end of training I can barely lift my arms above my head. But as the lads say, “It’s money in the bank!”

Jared and I are now coming to the end of our second week of training with West Perth. Early last week Jared received the title of skinniest player. Everyone had to submit to a skin fold test. This test measures seven skin folds on your body including the oblique, triceps, quadriceps and calf. Jared scored a 38. I was the next closest score with 50.5. The third place had a score of 55.5. Needless to say Jared is doing everything he can to gain weight. Last Wednesday brought a little excitement as well. Network Ten brought a camera crew to interview Jared and me. Americans playing footy seems to be novelty here in Western Australia. This news crew was trying to get an angle on why we were playing and what our goals were. The interviewer even asked what it would be like if we both made it pro and ended up playing each other. That is one big IF.

After the interview the news crew wanted to get some film of us kicking and handballing to each other. Gulp. To the delight of the team hollering away behind us my first kick sailed over Jared’s head. Hmmm, must have been the wind. A few kicks later I managed to get one into Jared’s hands. To Jared’s surprise the ball went right through his hands, hit him square in the nose and bounced straight up in the air.

At the end of practice, the film crew asked me to do a little tackling for the camera. Tim, a teammate, volunteered to be the tackle dummy. We lined up a short distance from each other. I handballed it to him and then tackled him. We did this three times and the team loved it. They were all standing back watching and laughing. Tim could not have played the role better. When I came close he would lift his arms and jump ever so slightly so that I could put my shoulder square into his chest, lift him up and drive him into the ground. This is what piques the team’s interest, our tackling. They want to see how much we differ from them in game situations. Thankfully we have a few months before our first scrimmage to get our skills up to par to complement the tackling.

Perth Week in Review: 11/11/2006 – 11/19/2006

We arrived in Perth on Saturday November 11th after about 34 hours of travel via Chicago to Los Angels to Auckland to Melbourne and finally to the sunny west coast city of Perth. Tony Fairhead, who has been organizing our trip, met us at the airport. We dropped our bags off at his place in Fremantle and he whisked us to a bar called The Saint in a suburb of Perth.

There we met the Coach of the West Perth Falcons, Todd Curley and several other past players including the Football Manager Ryan Lasscock. After a couple beers and before jet lag knocked us out Tony took us to another bar called the Left Bank to meet some of the current footy players. Not letting our expectations down with the typical Australian flare for nicknames we meet Ducky, Burnsie, and Razor.

They were all good guys with the highlight of the night happening when Burnsie gave us his car to use indefinitely for the price of 10 jager bombs (yet to be paid for the Nissan Patrol). With our eyes getting heavier we said goodbyes and headed back to Tony’s with our “new car” in tow. At Tony’s we meet his wife Ros and after a quick dinner went straight to bed.

We were up early the next morning before 6am and were on the road with Tony in his 1965 convertible Mustang heading to the beach. There we had an easy run along the water and then a dip in the ocean. It was a beautiful morning with the temperature around 70 and the water a little warmer. From the beach we headed to South Terrace in downtown Fremantle. This is called Cappuccino Strip because the street is lined on both sides with out door cafes.

Tony was slowing introducing us to the laid back lifestyle that is Perth so after a leisurely cup of coffee we headed back for a shower and breakfast. Later on in the day we meet one of Tony and Ros’s sons Tim and his two children Patrick and Meg. That evening Tony took us to mass at Notre Dame, a small Catholic University in Fremantle. Afterwards with a couple students and the priest we went to a local brewery for a couple beers (which was a first for us having a beer with a priest). Then it was home to bed since jet lag was kicking in pretty hard core!

Monday saw the return of Brett Cousins to Perth. We meet up with him at one of his Aunt and Uncle’s house for a BBQ to welcome him home. We experienced a bit of car trouble on the way there that involved pushing the Mustang up a bit of a hill to a side road and then parking in the shade to try and diagnose the problem. All seemed well with the car (it eventually made it safely to Cuz’s BBQ) and when we left that evening the first half of the ride went smoothly. An hour and fifteen minutes later we finally made it back to Fremantle with the car stalling 7 times along the way (turned out to be a problem with a recently installed anti-theft device that was overheating and causing the car to stall out).

Tuesday we helped Brett move back into his house. Wednesday was the first day of Falcon training that involved introductions and a 3km time trial. Before that we walked Patrick to his school in Fremantle so he could show us around, there we were spotted by the Principle and upon hearing we were Americans come over to play footie were asked to come back and help out with some of the sport classes. We were able to help the physical education teacher, Mr. Sash, teach a lesson to 3rd graders on ultimate Frisbee, a neat experience to have before footy training that evening.

Training started at 6pm with about 60 guys present for the time trial. Our memories were taxed trying to remember the names of all the guys we meet, all very nice and welcoming. We survived the time trial without puking and managed to post decent times considering jet lag (Jared 10:54, James 11:02). After training we moved to our new temporary home with Geoff and Judy Lasscock (parents of Ryan the Football Manager and Clayton the Team Captain) who were very welcoming giving us a home away from home.

Thursday training was strength testing. We were all tested on bench press, chin ups, leg raises for abs, vertical jump, and squatting. A bit sore we headed back home where Geoff and Judy took us on a nice 5km walk around a little lake by their house. Having stretched the legs we settled down for a quite BBQ outside on their porch.

Friday training was the ever exciting beep-test. This is a continuous shuttle run to the cadence of beeping that progressively gets quicker (for example it starts off as 1.1 then 1.2, 1.3……2.1, 2.2….etc), the object being to keep running as long as possible without missing a beep. Once again James and I made it without puking, since it was done in a stuffy gym that was a mean feat, our times weren’t bad either (Jared 13.11, James 13.2). That evening with had dinner at the Lasscock’s and then spent the night at Brett’s place where he was catching up with friends.

Saturday one of the guys from the team (Rob Hunt) picked us up to head out to lunch. We meet about 20 other guys from the team at a café on the beach in Scarborough (a suburb a little north of the City Center). It was a good opportunity to get to know some of the West Perth players away from footy. Rob dropped us off after a couple of hours; it was a gorgeous day so we decided to hit the beach. There we meet up with some of my friends from Uni in Melbourne who were now living in Perth. We spent the evening catching up on what had been happening in our lives during the last couple years since we’d seen each other. Such a small world!

Sunday morning we took a train into Perth city center for the Red Bull air show that was happening on the Swan River. The trains were absolutely jammed with people; once we got to the river it wasn’t much better. It looked as if everyone from Perth had decided to descend on the river to watch the spectacle, there were several roads closed off near the river to allow civilian access unhindered by cars. The show was a bit disappointing since nothing was announced, we couldn’t tell if the planes were doing practice runs or if the time trials had already begun. After about two hours of negotiating through the press of people we decided to head out of Perth. After a bit of relaxing we are meeting GD and Brett for dinner. Tomorrow footy training starts in earnest, it will be interesting to see how we go as we start going through skill drills. Time will tell!


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