The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Portland, Oregon native trained with Stoke City of the Premiership in March.
Bathurst’s training opportunity was arranged by Whitman coach Mike Washington, a native of England who has spent the past three decades coaching in the states.
“One of my old friends from England lives in the Tri-Cities and has contacts at Stoke City,” Washington says. “He helped put this together for Michael. While he’s in England, his lodging expenses at one of the athletic clubs will be very reasonable, and he’ll be able to eat at the football club,” the coach told the Whitman Athletic website before the journey.
Bathurst wrote about his trip and took photos that made it to a special blog he updated often during his England adventures.
Day One: I successfully arrived in Stoke yesterday afternoon (by way of Amsterdam and
Manchester) and had all of about 15 hours before my first training session.
Despite being terribly jet-lagged, it actually went quite well, but more on that
I am staying at a hotel called “Tollgate Hotel and Leisure,” which
is an interesting name. The owner of the hotel is a “massive” Stoke City fan
and there is some sort of deal between the club and the hotel because all of the
trialists, or other people training with the club (like me) are given rooms in
this hotel. We are also provided with our own separate menu in the hotel
Day Four: Today I was back to training. It was a similar routine to all the other
training days. I needed a little extra time to get loose today though. On
Tuesday I was a part of a rather spectacular collision with someone’s lower
leg/knee that left me with a sore left eye, nose, and lower back. Everything
had sorted itself out by this morning except for my back which was very tight.
Nothing a little extra “pre-habbing” couldn’t tackle though.
Day Five: Other exciting things that happend today: Peter Crouch kicked a ball at me
(well, to be fair there were three of us, not just me) while I was cleaning my
cleats (they have a “boot cleaning” station right outside the door to the
fields). It should also be noted that Peter Crouch is actually that lanky. It
isn’t just the TV cameras playing tricks on us.
Day Seven: Yesterday I trekked to Liverpool to watch the FA Cup Quarterfinal between
Liverpool and Stoke City. I travelled up on one of the Stoke City supporters
coaches and sat in the Stoke City supporters section for the match. Stoke fans
are totally and completely out of control. I have had multiple people tell
me since I got here that they are the loudest fans in all of England and I would
find it hard to disagree after my experience yesterday. I can’t really tell you
what the rest of the stadium sounded like, including the famous Kop end at
Anfield, because I couldn’t even hear myself think thanks to the Stoke fans. It
Last Day: From a soccer perspective, the trip has been extraordinary. I have learned a
ton, I have had a blast, and I have gotten to test myself against some excellent
competition. I have gotten to go to a number of games in some excellent
environments. I got a chance to meet Gordan Banks. I have worked out alongside
some of the world’s best players. However, most importantly, I have been able
to really determine what I need to work on as a player. I came over here sort
of unsure of what my weaknesses were. I knew I had them but I wasn’t sure what
they truly were and I hoped they would become clearer over these two
weeks. Playing against this kind of competition on a daily basis has pointed me
in the right direction in terms of what I need to do to improve and hopefully
reach that next level.
The Missionaries kick off their 2012 campaign on August 31 when they visit the University of Redlands.