CSL Daily

May 4, 2017

CSL in Europe: Back Home

by James Moran, CSL graduate student

The final Day of our trip consisted of a lengthy day of travel from Spain back to Richmond. As we waited to board our flight from Aeropuerto de Barcelona to JFK we laughed and joked about our favorite memories over the course of the trip. Some told stories about their time first landing in Italy while others spoke about the beautiful beach in the south of France. We all spoke about the fun in Barcelona and our excitement to return home and touch down in the US. There is no doubt our visits to Milan, Nice, Monaco, Nimes and Barcelona left an indelible mark on us. And, in the case of one Cataluyan restaurant in Spain, we left our mark as well!

Overall, our trip was an incredible way to see what Europe has to offer from both a cultural and sport perspective. We’re always encouraged to think about topics in sports on a more global scale in our program. The opportunity to see how other countries approach sports in person gave us some great insight on where the world of sport is heading in the future.


May 3, 2017

CSL in Europe-Day 10: Barcelona’s Olympic Legacy

by Leon Clarke and Tyler Dandridge

We started the day with Xavier Ballius, who is the science, training, and medicine head for C.A.R., a high performance training center located right outside of Barcelona. Xavier walked us through the organization’s mission and structure,  the functional components of sports, health, and education, as well as the clientele that they serve. Due to funding, and support from outside government agencies, C.A.R is able to serve area and international athletes with one of the most superior training facilities in the world.

Following the lecture, Xavier took us on a tour of the facilities, including the two Olympic style swimming pools, outdoor tennis courts, a gymnastics facility, and a magnificent weight lifting area. One of the first things we got to witness was some of the athletes who participated in synchronized swimming. It was really cool watching them practice and it put into perspective of how much time and preparation they put in. The next part of the facility tour was the table tennis training room. Table tennis is a not a spectator sport in the United States and is more recreational than competitive. In Spain and other European countries, it’s more mainstream and popular. The mission and vision of CAR will not doubt produce future Olympians for Spain and other countries for years to come.

After a quick lunch break, we explored Barcelona’s Olympic legacy. We traveled to Mountjueic, the site of the Olympic Stadium and the Museu Olimpic i de l’Esport, which has a breathtaking view that overlooks all of Barcelona

In the museum’s auditorium, we heard from two knoweldgeable guest speakers. Dr. Chris Kennett, a professor and researcher on behalf of the Olympic Studies Center, spoke in depth about the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona. The ’92 Games were a successful operation that transformed Barcelona into one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Dr. Kennet also talked about how the Olympics helped boost the economy of Barcelona. It’s well documented many host countries have struggled post-Olympics, both on financial impact and sustainability.

The next speaker, Dawn Hiscock, went more in depth on how the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona really helped the city in sport tourism. Just last year in January 2016 through October 2016 Barcelona had 16 million foreign tourists. The impact has been so considerable, one study claims Barcelona is the second most sport oriented city in the world. Dawn went on to explain the benefits of having a mega event like the Olympics in a city like Barcelona. Some of the benefits included increased economic growth through filled hotels, restaurants and retail establishments, youth opportunities and entertainment, exposure, and positive images for your community.

The museum relives the greatest moments in Olympic history through artifacts, memorabilia and multi-media displays. A winding, downward spiral path takes you through a journey of Olympic history, culminating in the 1992 Barcelona Games and a tribute to Juan Antonio Samaranch, a Barcelona native who was the head of the International Olympic Committee and largely responsible for pushing Barcelona for the 1992 Games.

We walked across the street to the Olympic Stadium used for the opening and closing ceremonies and track and field in 1992. The stadium us used mostly for soccer now and other special events like concerts.

We finished the day gazing out over Barcelona from the many lookouts on Mountjuic. It’s a memorable view that does justice to the memorable day we concluded.



May 2, 2017

CSL in Europe-Day 9: Celebrating Labor Day in Barcelona

By Betsy Cutler and Vincent Greene, CSL graduate students

May 1 is a national holiday in Spain. It’s Labor Day and the intent is similar to our Labor Day in the States. We were unsure how many shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions would be open in Barcelona so we made this a free day for our group. CSL students were given the option of attending Parque Güel or enjoying the local activities around Barcelona’s Las Ramblas neighborhood. Some students explored the various “barrios” of Barcelona. Following a short walk from the hotel, several students visited the beach at Barcelona. On their walk around the beachfront, students enjoyed the local cuisine including some delicious paella and crepes. Students immersed themselves in the culture, exploring “las callellas” del Barcelona and enjoying the excitement around the holiday.

Another group of students took a guided tour of one of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks: Parc Güell, created by renown architect Antoni Gaudi. As the population in Barcelona grew in the early 1900s, the amount of living space decreased. Gaudi, feeling claustrophobic convinced 3 wealthy families to purchase property on a hill top, Gaudi planned in designing a housing community for 60 families that would separate the wealthy from the lower class living in the overcrowded inner city of Barcelona. In the end only three families lived in the secluded neighborhood; Gaudi, his assistant and the Güell family to include his 10 children. The park is named for Güell because he was the financier of the project.
Our group was mesmerized by all the unique use of mosaics, almost every structure used this artistic style. Gaudi lived there with his father and niece, although he himself did not design his house one of his apprentices did. The views of the city were majestic. Vanessa’s favorite part was the theater that had mosaic seats that provided lumbar support. Tre’s most memorable portion was the market under the theater which hosted ocean scenes on the ceiling, including an Octopus. He also liked that the utility of the structure was hidden by the art.

We closed out the day with a CSL in Europe tradition: the official dinner. Anyone who has traveled in a large group knows it can be challenging to eat together. On these trips, we schedule one night where we eat together. Thanks to our friends at LanCon, our tour coordinator, we enjoyed a wonderfully authentic Catalonia meal at Orio. The food was good, the company and conversation was even better as recapped our amazing journey and prepared for our final day of the trip.


May 1, 2017

CSL in Europe-Day 8: Exploring Barcelona

by Jessica Weiss and Hannah Livermon

This morning we went on our first city bike tour, starting in the center of Barcelona, which is referred to as the center of power. This square consists of city hall and the government house. We learned about the history of the flag where the red stripes represent the streak of blood from 4 fingers down the gold shield of Charles the Bald after Catalonia won the war to become their own independent country. There were 4 bloody finger marks down the gold shield from Charles the Bald. Next, we visited the Cathedral in the city that is most commonly confused with sagrada familia. There can only be one Cathedral per city and Barcelona is home to the Santa Alaria. Alaria survived 13 torturous acts, which came to be known as surviving the 13 miracles.

We proceeded to ride for about 20 minutes until we reached Sagrada Familia, which was designed by Anthony Gaudy. Gaudy was born in 1852 born with a bone disease and spent most of his childhood in his room, saw lots of nature and was inspired by it. He eventually came to Barcelona and during school fell in love with his professor, asked her out and was turned down and proceeded to take that as sign that he was to never be in a relationship with women and thought God put him here for other reasons. In 1882 he collected enough money from the nations of the people to build Sagrada Familia and said it would take over 200 years to build. While people were initially and the people needed to be patient as his boss aka God was not in a hurry. He planned out every little detail so the future would be set, but unfortunately anarchists tried to set the building on fire and while the building was safe, the plans were ruined. Near the conclusion of our bike tour we learned that Barcelona’s 3 mile beach we stopped at was man made for tourists and the sand was shipped in from Egypt and the palm trees from Hawaii. It’s the 10th most frequently visited City in the world and the 4th city in Europe for tourism.

Later in the day we visited Camp Nou and toured the museum and stadium, home of FC Barcelona. The Camp Nou Experience included history of the club, the opportunity to take pictures on a green screen with players, the ability to see the field up close, and sit on the sideline. The self guided tour took about an hour where we learned about the legacy of FCB and got to see all their trophies first hand. The biggest hit of the day, by far, was the team store. The store was three stories and had a ton of apparel, shoes, and souvenirs for sale. Overall, the Camp Nou Experience was amazing and allowed us to have the opportunity to see one of the most famous futbol clubs in the world.

April 30, 2017

CSL in Europe-Day 7: Bienvenido a Espana

By Wes Chappell and Ashley Williams, CSL graduate students

Today started off with another early morning as we departed Nîmes for a 5-hour bus ride to Barcelona. Before arriving in Barcelona, we stopped in a small town called Figueras where we visited the Teatre-Museu Dalí. This museum was full of the famous surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí’s work. We made our way throughout the winding halls of the museum, fascinated by his bizarre, yet genius mind. One of his most famous works of art, Persistence of Memory  (the melting clocks), resides in his museum in Figueras. One of my favorite collections in this museum were sets of near identical paintings or images, with slightly different colors. When viewing the two images side-by-side very closely, the two juxtaposed images merge together to form a 3-dimensional image. It was truly mind bending!

A lot of the artwork we saw was extremely interesting and clearly depicted how abstract of a thinker Salvador Dali was in his heyday. The design of the Dali Theatre Museum was intricate in that spectators had to weave their way in and out of sculptures and rooms tangent to the main areas and hallways. After snaking our way in and out of the museum, we made our way to the gift shops and eventually found our way out into the streets of Figueras where we ate lunch at a local restaurant. Along side a few other CSL classmates, we ate lunch with at Catalunya Amor Meu! We had a wonderful waiter named Jonas who showed us the amazing Catalonian hospitality and served us their house sangria. After an amazing meal with arguably the best server I’ve ever had, we gathered together to make our final bus trip to Barcelona, where we will spend the rest of our Euro Trip 2017.

After arriving in Barcelona, we got accustomed to our hotel and had some free time to grab dinner and explore our barrio for the next few days. Finally we boarded to the bus to RCDE Stadium to watch one of the best soccer teams in the world, FC Barcelona, take on the home team, RCD Espanyol, in a local rivalry match, or derby as it’s often called in soccer.

For many of us, it was our first time watching an international soccer match. It was even more special that we were able to see FC Barcelon and watch the best player of our generation, Lionel Messi, do his thing up close.

Unfortunately, the home team lost and FC Barcelona won 3-0, extending their lead at the top of La Liga (Spain’s top soccer league). However, the environment was electric throughout the game. The home fans of RCDE Espanyol sang and chanted the entire time. the atmosphere in European soccer games is the most exciting in the world. Contrary to American professional sports, fans are singing and chanting the entire game, and you aren’t bombarded with corporate marketing and advertising, unless you’re watching on TV. I hope that soccer continues to grow in the United States and our most popular professional sports leagues attempt to take a page out of the European culture’s book when it comes to sports and creating an ecstatic environment for fans inside of a stadium that isn’t entirely focused on corporate sponsors, television, and money in general – at least when it comes to the in-stadium experience. After the game we took the subway from Espanyol’s stadium back to our hotel in Barcelona to cap the night off. When we returned to the hotel, I was told by friends and family that they saw Betsy and I (Ashley) on TV cheering after Barcelona scored!

Attending a professional soccer match is most definitely a must if you’re ever traveling around Europe, whether or not you happen to be a sports fanatic. We so thankful to we get to experience such an authentic and organic sporting atmosphere, while watching some of the best athletes in the world.

April 28, 2017

CSL in Europe-Day 6: Nimes, France

by Mackenzie Keyes and Jenn Moss, CSL graduate students

Our first stop of the day was at the Union Sportive des Anciens du MontDuplan (USAM) Nimes Handball Academy, where Franck Maurice, the head coach of the professional team at the academy, greeted us.

The Handball federation operates on a tiered system, similar to European professional soccer, which include promotion and relegation.  USAM Nimes Gard, also known as “The Green Team”, plays in the Lidl Star Ligue and is currently a level one team, where as the Division II team is currently a level four team. Along with the two professional teams, therenare several youth teams within the academy.

Over the years France has won 5 World Championships, 3 European Championships and the Olympics twice.  Half of the Nimes Handball team’s 3,2 million euro budget is provided by the city of Nimes. Their budget is the 9th lowest in their league of 14 teams but they are currently ranked 5th.   The Handball Academy has a division committed to its youth teams where they learn the skills of handball along with going to school.  Last year the Academy added a girls youth team although they do not have a professional women’s team.

The Green Team shared their core values of patience, confidence building, editing, and evaluation. I found this interesting because I was able to relate them to our core values at the Center for Sport Leadership that we practice everyday. Our core values include, global mindedness, collaboration, authenticity, accountability, and empowerment.

After we travelled to the Pont du Gard, a roman aqueduct that was built in 58 AD. It took 5 years to build and still stands today.  It was one of the largest aqueducts built by the Romans.

After a delightful group lunch, our tour guide Claudia accompanied us through the city of Nimes, which is a former Roman colony.  The city was founded in the 1st century BC and had approximately 20,000 inhabitants.  Today the city holds 150,000 inhabitants.  Over the years the city was built on top of the older buildings so there is a mix of Roman, medieval, and modern architecture.  Because the city was founded by the Romans there is an Arena that is modeled after the Roman Coliseum. During the 19th century there were Spanish bullfights in the stadium and the tradition continues today with bullfighting festivals on June and September.  

We saw several different historic sites during the visit, but one of the most interesting was the town hall building. Four crocodiles were hanging from one of the stairwells in the building. The crocodiles represented Nime’s triumph over Cleopatra and the Egyptians, which is when the symbol of Nimes emerged. The symbol consists of a crocodile chained to a palm tree to represent Nimes’ power over Egypt.  We also saw the Maison Carrée, an ancient Roman temple built 2000 years ago.  Across from the museum is an art museum that was built in the 1990’s that has a glass front so the reflection of the Maison Carrée can be seen by everyone in the area.