July 12, 2018

NETANYA, ISRAEL– When the Iroquois Nationals touched down at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the Tel Aviv Airport, it was the culmination of a three-day journey. The team faced two flight delays and passport and travel document issues, holding them up from boarding in Toronto Monday evening, East Coast time in North America. After great work by the host organizers and the Israeli and Canadian governments, the team was able to travel Wednesday, only to get delayed.

Upon arrival, the team went through a lengthy customs procedure, made a quick media appearance and photo opportunity at the airport with 10+ cameras, then had a bus drive through Tel Aviv center-city traffic, traveling 50 kilometers north to West Lagoon Resort in Netanya. By 2:45 p.m., the team was eating at the hotel’s buffet with one thing on their collective minds: sleep. There would be little rest for the weary, as the team would have a quick wake-up call to get to the stadium for the 7 p.m. Opening Ceremony. To cap off their epic journey, they would face a top-ranked American team.

Team Captain, Jeremy Thompson, would clear customs to face a group of media members who asked how it felt to finally make it on to Israeli soil. “It feels really good,” he said with a smile. “It’s been a long time to get here but we kept our spirit, we made sure we stayed together as a team. We remained upbeat. It’s the World Championship and it’s good to be here.”

On the bus ride up to the hotel, one of the coaches said, “No matter what happens tonight, I’m proud of you. You’ve already made a positive statement with your spirit. Play hard tonight and be sure to enjoy the experience. Enjoy the night.”

The Iroquois Nationals had exactly one practice prior to travel on Monday. The extra day on the ground actually helped provide them an extra day of practice. By the start of the game versus the United States, the Iroquois Nationals seemed energetic and ready to rumble. Their adrenaline seemed to be rubbing off on each other as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first seven minutes of the first quarter.

By the second half, it appeared their mojo, if not their adrenal glands, was running out of juice. The Americans would eventually pull away and win 17-9. Not deterred, the Iroquois Nationals left a bit animated as the game concluded, with one of them shouting, “Well, eight hours ago, we were getting off a 10-hour plane ride.”