Sunday, September 27, 2009

Noelridge Cross Country Meet

Most fall sports are in full swing right now and at the top of their game. Our golf team is one of the best in the state, our swim team and volleyball teams are doing really well, and our football team isn’t doing too badly if you forget about the last two games we have had. Cross country, often the forgotten sport by most of the school is also in full swing. We have been having a good season and our varsity team is really good this year due to some pretty fast freshmen as well as returning runners. For a while now, we have continually been beaten by the Xavier team at our meets. Our coach always says that we are creeping up behind them but we never seem to be able to get them. On Thursday of this past week we were finally able to get them. I am not sure of the exact placing but I know we beat Xavier at the meet which they hosted at Noelridge Park.

At the meet I ran okay as usual. I had a confirmed sickness from a doctor’s appointment earlier in the day and didn’t feel good but I decided to run anyways just to see how I could do. It went fine but unfortunately I was about 5-10 minutes late to the meet which I had to pay for at practice the next day by walking down the soccer field twice with my hands and feet flat on the ground. I am not really sure what to call the exercise or how to explain it other than it was very painful. It really didn’t help that I had just completed 6 miles and was extremely worn out from the long week either. I can honestly say I have learned by lesson and will NEVER be late to a cross country meet again.

Irondale Marching Band Competition

After the football game on Friday night at Kingston we (the marching band) all went home to get ready for our big competition the next day. We were all really pumped because we were going against big time bands like Irondale and Rosemont in Minnesota. These communities take marching band very seriously and put a lot of work into their shows. We were all excited but nervous at the same time because we knew the competition would be very tough. On Saturday morning we had about a 2 hour practice at Kennedy to get ready. It went pretty well and afterwards I felt a lot more confident with our show. After that we went home for a while to pack because we were going to spend the night in the Irondale gym at the school we were performing at considering it is about a 5 hour drive back home. I came back after lunch and we boarded the buses for the long bus ride. The bus ride was fun as usual and didn’t seem too long. When we arrived at the competition we could tell just how true everything was that our band director had been telling us. We watched a couple bands perform and they were very good. We still didn’t know exactly what we were up against because we were watching the 2A schools and we were a 3A school at this competition. After we watched a few bands perform we went to go get our uniforms on and then warmed up. By this time I was pretty nervous, not only for myself but for the band as a whole. In the last movement, which we recently put on, it is really hard to stay with the drum line in some parts and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to stick with their tempo.

Finally we were on the field and ready to perform, there was no going back. We were the first in our class to perform because it was the first time we had ever been to this competition. Our show went pretty well and I was relieved when it was over. I felt that I had done the best I could. I was a little disappointed because one of the keys on my flute tends to stick sometimes and of course it was sticking during the performance so not all the notes came out as good as they should have. There were 6 bands in our class and we got 6th place. I know this sounds bad, but I was kind of expecting it just because we had been warned what we were going up against. It was a little comforting though, that the band that came in 5th place beat us by less than a point. We were all still proud of ourselves because we knew the bands we had competed against were the best of the best in the area. Some of the bands like Rosemont even compete and place nationally. The other thing is that they start their season 2 weeks ahead of us, so they are a bit farther along. Even though we got last place I think the competition really prepared us for the season. The bands around here are not much competition and so we will only go up in scoring from here on out (hopefully).

We spent the night in the gym and the next morning we got up and went to a buffet. It was nice to just relax and have fun with all my friends knowing the competition was over. After that we went to Mall Of America and went shopping before we headed home. We didn’t get home until about 7 o’clock pm which is why I am now rushing to finish this blog post as well as the rest of my homework.

Washington Versus Kennedy Football Game

This past week the entire school was pumped for the Washington versus Kennedy game at Kingston. Unfortunately, we lost by a large margin. I am not sure what the final score was because they were ahead at half time and I stopped paying attention when they were about 5 touchdowns ahead of us and I am not over exaggerating. Even though we lost by a lot the game was still pretty fun as always. For marching band we only marched pre-game because it was not a home game but it was still at Kingston. This was a very important night for us because it was a run through performance for the big show we had coming up on Saturday in New Brighton, Minnesota at Irondale High School. We were really pumped for our competition so we made sure to really have a good performance at the football game to get ready. It went pretty well and the student section was fairly quiet. We played and marching through our entire show on the field for the first time. We have run through the whole show in practice a few times but never with stands full of people watching us. I have to admit I was a bit nervous due to the difficulty of our music and drill but I was still excited. The show went good, we had some issues but it was not that big of a deal because it was not a competition. Our director usually just makes note of the things that cause problems at the football games and we make sure to address and practice fixing them during our rehearsals.

Afterwards, we got to go back up into the stands play our pep band music which is fun because then we get to check on how the game is going. Of course, we were still losing but it was still a little fun to watch. At halftime we got to see Washington’s band perform their marching band show and it was really good. We later found out they got 1st place at a competition at Linn-Mar we were supposed to be at if we wouldn’t have been going to Irondale. Based on this information I know Washington is going to be tough competition this year but I am excited. This is my third year in marching band and I think we have only beat Washington once if at all but we usually come in right behind them. This year I really hope we can push ourselves and get our show clean enough to beat them and maybe even come in first at one of our competitions in the future!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bull Fighting in Spain

As I have mentioned all ready, over the summer I went to Spain with two of my good friends. While I was there I learned a lot about their culture and way of life. Some things in their culture I loved and wanted to continue learning about even once I got back to the United States. Not everything about their culture was like this though. Towards the end of our trip in Spain we had the option to go to a bull fight. I knew it would be very gruesome and I really didn’t want to go. After thinking about it I thought, I am only going to be in Spain once (I hope to go again but you never know) I should make the most of it and learn everything I possibly can. So I bought my ticket, which I believe was around 30 Euros, and went to the fight. It was very gruesome and sad just as I had expected. There is a long process to kill the bull, which maybe I will explain in a later post. There were 3 bull fighters and each of them killed 6 bulls. Even though it was not the best situation I experienced while I was in Spain I can honestly say I am glad I went and saw that part of their culture. To the Spaniards, going to a Sunday night Bull Fighting is like watching Sunday night football or going to the Iowa football games on Saturdays is to a American. In the United States, there is a lot more awareness of animal cruelty. In Spain it is not unusual to see more cruelty towards animals particularly with bulls. There is a select few animal rights activists in Spain who protest the bull fights but they have very little success because bull fighting is so ingrained in the minds and the culture of the Spanish people. I would say that I am against the bull fights, but it does make me feel a little bit better knowing that the meat of the bull is sold after every show.

Cedar Falls Meet and Around the Lake

As of recently, cross country has been going pretty well. The practices are still very demanding in terms of endurance but I can tell that I am becoming a better runner which is what I am striving to do. The beginning of the week went well, although I cannot remember exactly what we did at practice. On Thursday we had a big cross country meet in Cedar Falls. The course is a very nice course and I have run it before so I knew it pretty well. Once we got there and ran the course, we realized they had changed it a little bit, but for the most part it was the same and I was excited to run it. Although I have only run the course once, I can remember my freshmen year when varsity ran districts on the course and received third place which qualified them for the state meet. As it got closer for my time to race I got a little nervous but I was still excited. I ran my race and it went pretty well, it wasn’t the best time I have ever gotten but it was better than last week. When we were done we all got subway sandwiches which were really good. I had to leave a little bit early though because I had to make it back to Kennedy in time for marching band practice. As a whole our team did very well. One of the girls on the freshman/sophomore team got 1st place in the race which is a really amazing accomplishment. On Friday we got right back to work preparing for our next meet, which is on next Thursday. Unfortunately, it was a distance day and we had to run 7.3 miles. At the beginning of the run it was painful because my legs hurt and all I could think about was how in the world am I going to make it over 7 miles like this? When I made it to the 3 mile mark all I could think about was the fact that I was only half way there. Surprisingly though, it got better. My legs started to feel better and I had the prospect that I was headed back to Kennedy. With that going for me, the second half of the run ended up being pretty enjoyable even though it was really hot. When we run 7.3 miles we most commonly call it the run around the lake. This is because we start from Kennedy and we run down to a lake that is near Quaker Oats on the trail. Once we get there we run around the lake and then head back to Kennedy. It isn’t exactly the most scenic route because the lake is located downtown which is pretty dirty. Nevertheless, I made it around the lake and I felt very accomplished and relieved when I was back at Kennedy.

Homecoming Week and Johnson

Homecoming week is usually just about as crazy as it gets at Kennedy High School (this excludes the week of AP exams). On Wednesday there is the parade, Friday night is the football game with the crowing of king and queen, and finally on Saturday night is the much anticipated dance. Oh yea, and I cannot forget the pep assembly were all the king and queen candidates are announced. It couldn’t be a much busier week for most people but if you are in the marching band, it definitely gets a lot busier. On Wednesday night we marched in the parade. This doesn’t seem like that big of a time commitment right there but considering we had to be there at 5 o’clock and weren’t allowed to leave until about 6:30, it definitely took up a good chunk of time. After we marched through the streets around Kennedy we went to the back of the school where the student government was in charge of lighting a huge bonfire. We, of course, played through the fight song before being dismissed. Before the parade we had a flute sectional to get us ready for our upcoming performance we had scheduled for that Saturday. It might sound like I am complaining as I write all this, but I can honestly say that I love marching band.

The next night, Thursday night, we had marching band practice as usual and we were able to add some more sets to movement number 3, our last movement. For those of you not in marching band, sets are our positions on the field that we must learn in order to be able to make our different formations. Everybody’s sets are different because they will take them to different places on the field, which makes it a sort of memorization process. It is important that everyone on the field know their sets because if they don’t they will just be wandering aimlessly on the field (unfortunately this has happened to me several times before). I had to come late to practice because I had a cross country meet but luckily all the other flutes were able to help me catch up on where I was supposed to be.

Friday night we had the football game against Xavier which I was really looking forward to. We were ahead at halftime but unfortunately they creamed us in the second half of the game. For marching band we played pregame, which is just marching onto the field and playing the Star Spangled Banner and the Fight Song. Unfortunately, all of us band people had to miss the crowing of the king and queen as usual but we soon figured out who they were from the student section. Then, at halftime, we performed our show. We were only able to march about ¾ of it but we played the entire show. It went pretty well for still being the beginning of the season. The end didn’t go as good as it could have but we have the Xavier student section to thank partly for that. At the beginning of our performance, the loud speaker made an announcement to ask for the crowd to be quiet for a short time. The Kennedy student section was quieter than usual which we can be thankful for. The Xavier student section was another story. Either they didn’t understand English or simply wanted to be rude because during the second half of our performance they started to have a cheering contest. Xavier has always gotten the rep of being the “nice catholic school” where all the kids are respectable and well behaved. I am here to tell you that is about as far from the truth as could be possible. Nevertheless, our show ended well and we were pumped for our competition the next day.

On Saturday we had to be up at the school to depart for Johnson, Iowa at 6:30. The drive is about 2 hours and we needed to make sure we were there in plenty of time for our performance. The bus ride is usually one of the more fun parts but most of us were too tired to have much excitement. My friends and I were on the drum line bus because by the time we signed up for buses it was the only one that had enough seats for us all to be together. The reason this bus is usually a last resort for people is because the drum line insists on pulling out their pads and drum sticks and practicing their music the ENTIRE bus ride. It does not matter if it is a 2 hour bus ride or 5 hour bus ride, they will practice the entire time. Despite the drum line, the bus ride ended up being pretty fun. When we got there we got into our uniforms immediately and warmed up for our performance. Since it is early in the season, it was not a scored performance. Instead the judges just gave us comments and ways to improve our show. Our show went well for being our first actual performance. When we were done we headed straight home so that everyone would have time to get ready for Homecoming.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

All About Spain:)

Since the beginning of time teachers have been telling us, “Never start your papers saying…I’m going to talk about…” but that is exactly what I am going to do because I don’t know how else to start this. For this section of my blog I am going to talk about other countries, mostly Spain. I am going to talk about their culture, as well as fun experiences I had well I was there. Hopefully some of them will make you laugh, but most of them are had to be there moments. I absolutely love Spain and everything about their culture and way of life. This summer I went to Spain with two of my really good friends for the school trip. I had an amazing time and learned more about Spain in those two weeks that I could have learned in a lifetime from sitting home and reading textbooks about Spain. While we were in the country we went to museums and traveled around the country learning everything we possibly could. It was fun, but at the same time very difficult because it tested my Spanish skills, which I have learned, are very weak. It is much different talking to a native speaker who feels the need to talk a mile a minute even when they can tell you are not a native Spanish speaker versus when you are talking to a partner in Spanish class. There was one specific time I can remember when I was in the metro station in Spain. I am standing all alone in the line to buy a ticket for the metro because my friends ditched me, when this little old lady walks up to me. When she walks up to me she starts speaking as fast as I have ever heard any one talk in my life. I have to assume she was speaking Spanish considering I was in Spain. I believe she was asking me directions to a location but I guess I will never know. Unfortunately, I had to say no hablo espanol because there was really no hope of me understanding a word she was saying. I guess I could have just said no se, but that just didn’t cross my mind. Once I told her I didn’t speak Spanish, which truly isn’t that big of a lie, she walked away mumbling something incoherent that I didn’t understand. For the duration of the trip it was not very unusual to have several of these awkward encounters with different Spanish people because apparently I look like a native Spaniard. This was not always the case though, because sometimes I would say something to someone in Spanish and they would answer me in English. I guess I was just that bad at sounding like a native speaker. Hopefully I will be able to talk about actual Spain a little more in my next post.

The Beginning of the Marching Band Season

Now that school has started many activities have gotten into full swing. One of these activities is marching band! I am in marching band and I am very excited for the season. We started our season about 2 weeks before school started with the infamous band camp. For most people in marching band this is basically a death sentence. Band camp is an entire week of 8 o’clock in the morning to 5 o’clock at night of pure marching. Oh yea, and don’t forget that half hour lunch break we are so generously given. I on the other hand, find it very enjoyable. I love to march and play music even though it is a lot of work. My close friends and I look forward to a week of learning new drill and get our most anticipated music. This year we will be performing Hook, from Peter Pan.
This year is a bit different than other years because we are not marching freshman. Kennedy was one of the last schools in Iowa to march freshman and I was lucky enough to get to my freshman year. With the competition only getting better and the hope of keeping more freshmen in band, our director decided to not march them this year. Our band is a lot better because almost everyone in it has already marched for a year. To fill the holes in our drill and bring some more sound to our band, our director added a few freshmen to the band, but luckily they have been able to pick up the drill quickly. We also got rid of our 0 hour marching band practice, so now we only have it for first hour. This didn’t change much for me because I always had a different 0 hour, but I guess it is beneficial for the lazy people that want to sleep in 0 hour. Unfortunately for some, we still have our 6-9 marching band rehearsals on Thursday nights.
So far we have only had one football game to perform our show, but it went very well. Our director said we got many compliments from the band directors from other schools that attended. We have 3 movements that we have to put onto the field. So far we have 2 of the 3 movements done. Hopefully we can get the third movement put on the football field for our competition on Saturday at Johnson. This is coincidently the same day as homecoming, but our director continues to ensure us we will have “plenty” of time to get ready once the competition is over. Unfortunately this is because the competition starts early and we have to be on the buses at 6:30 AM on our Saturday morning. For homecoming week on Wednesday night we have the Homecoming Parade we march in and on Thursday night we have our 6-9 marching band practice. This is usually the highlight of me and my friends week because we are madly in love with the drum line instructors (did I just say that out loud? Oops!) Friday night we perform in the Xaiver Versus Kennedy game and then Saturday is our competition in Johnston. We have many more competitions and football games after this and I am looking forward to beating Washington’s marching band at every competition (hopefully!). Oh yea, and I cannot forget to say thanks to the soccer team for so graciously letting us tear up “their” field for a third year in a row.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Beginning of the Cross Country Season

Every year I tell myself that I am going to run every day of the summer. I think to myself, I could be so much better if I just started running during the summer, instead of waiting for the first day of practice. But of course what do I do every summer? I sit around making excuses for myself as to why I can’t run. These excuses include but are not limited to: I’m too tired, I’m too busy, or I have other plans. This might be the case about 5% of the time, but the other 95% of the time the reason I don’t run during the summer is due to pure laziness. Practice starts at about 8 o’clock every morning, 7 days a week, all summer. Somehow, every summer I let just about all of these opportunities to run, pass me by. All the while the rest of the girls are on my team are getting faster, better, and stronger. Of course, I treated this summer, my third summer/year of being on the cross country team, the same as every other summer. I made up excuses all summer, until I had no excuses left, and cross country practice had officially started. This was about two weeks before school started. Just as I was expecting, the first week of practice was brutal, just like every year. I ran as hard as I could, but after sitting around all summer, there was no way to escape the problems I had created for myself, due to pure laziness. I have only had 3 meets this year, and so far I can’t even come close to any of my times I was hitting last year(my sophomore year) or the year before(my freshman year). I realize that’s still early in the season, and that I still have time to get my head on straight and run some good times. The only way I’m going to be able to do this though, is if I run as hard as I can every day at practice. It is so easy to get into the habit of settling for just being good. So many days at practice I think, I could run harder or I could just do the bare minimum of what I need to do to get by. Most often times I chose the second option, when I need to chose the first. Slowly though, I am changing my mind set. This morning we had practice at 8 o’clock and I did better than usual. We ran 5 miles and I challenged myself to run with some of the girls on varsity. I was able to stay with them for about the first 4.5 miles, only losing them on the last .5 miles of the run. I am still disappointed in myself for not working as hard as I could have over the summer, but I am optimistic when I realize that I can still make a turnaround if I keep up what I am doing and push as hard as I can to be the best I can be every day at practice.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The First Meet of the Year

On Tuesday, I had my first cross country meet of the season. The meet was at Prarie and my race started at about 6 o'clock. This was my third time running this course, so I knew it pretty well and I was excited to run. The previous two years the meet was extremely hot, but this year it was perfect running weather, about 70 degrees so the race was much more enjoyable. The race was about 20 meters short of 2.5 miles. My next meet is on Saturday, in Pella, so it will be a long drive there.