Saturday, December 20, 2008

Celebrate good times

"Baltimore Blast forward Carlos Garcia lines up his shot as Massachusetts Twisters goalie Paul Dellistritto tries to make the save during the second quarter at 1st Mariner Arena. The Blast breezed to a, 27-2, victory against the overmatched Twisters."

Celebrate good times, come on! Yeah, if you haven't guessed, they are the lyrics to Kool and the Gang's hit song. It's also the jam they blare from the loudspeakers at The Baltimore Blast indoor soccer games after they score a goal, and believe me, I heard it a lot last weekend.

When I was about six-years-old I saw my very first indoor soccer game. If I can remember correctly, my oldest brother Justin took Tim (next older brother than me) and myself to the game.

From what I can recall it was dark, crowded and I don't think I was feeling well (read: I simply missed my mother). Either way, some small memories of the match remain.

Putting that negative memory aside, I do have the positive recollections of The Blast, mainly from my younger years of going to the games with my soccer teammates.

Although the team went from The Blast to The Spirit (and now back to The Blast), the league in which they played at the time was in it's prime in the early '90s. I believe it was the in the era of playing Tag Team's "Whoomp! There it is" after a goal was scored.

Sorry, I must contain my excitement. My old teammate Eric, who was typically my Blast counterpart, and I used to play indoor soccer in his basement with the song cranked trying to reenact the Saturday night action.

As you can imagine with my enthusiasm, the arena was always packed tight and if you didn't know the names such as Mike Stankovic, Tim Wittman and Cris Vaccaro, you were looked at as being loony.

But my ties to The Blast stem further than my younger years only being a spectator.

I actually grew up playing along aside former Blast head coach Kenny Cooper's son on a team named after a former Blast hall of fame player - Keith Van Eron.

In addition, I also was brought up playing indoor soccer at an arena which was owned and operated by a former Blast goalie, Bobby McAvan. Ironically, I still play there on an unlimited team.

And my last connection to the team was playing against and then shooting current Blast GM Kevin Healey's son, Pat, at Towson University; he also just joined the squad as a player this season.

But enough about my past soccer youth and fusion with this ball club. I have not been to a game since I was probably 13-years-old, so needless to say, I was thrilled when I got the call to cover the first game of the season.

Before getting there I was already picturing the sights and sounds. Kool and The Gang echoing throughout the arena, the psychical play and soccer drama at its finest.

Yet all my memories, while still reminiscent, seemed to be flushed down the toilet when the arena was empty and I realized that the league only featured five teams total.

Too fulfill my excitement I brought my remotes and set one up behind the visiting team's goal and then shot 80 percent of the game from the third level of the arena.

The staff was really friendly, one woman even watched my locked up remote the entire game, the light was great and the access was even better. I am surprised they don't let photographers on the pitch like they used to allow photographers do in baseball decades ago.

Alas, my deadline was fairly tight, so I only got in two quarters of shooting. The Blast destroyed the Massachusetts Twisters, 27-2, and when I left during the third quarter it was still a shutout.

Overall, it wasn't the same as it was a decade ago when I was there last. But it was a fresh assignment that was fun and made me think of my youth and I did celebrate my good time. Hopefully I'll be able to snag another game before the end of the season to try and better my first take.

You can view more images here. I didn’t include a slideshow above because of their vast various sizes.


Post a Comment

<< Home