Special to Raiders.com
A long journey, a short night, a ride in style and many happy faces; yes I am back in Oakland Raiders training camp. But let's do it like a rookie and take it one step at a time.
The Oakland Raiders training camp yet again has an international flavor! Coaches from all over the world arrived in Napa Valley, California, on Thursday August 6 for the sixth annual International Guest Coach Program. Among them two coaches from the Silver and Black's Austrian marketing teammate SWARCO Raiders as well as coaches from Mexico, Spain, Sweden and Australia. And me.
As you might know I'm the one who covers the SWARCO Raiders. Therefore I was lucky enough to get invited again to training camp in Napa Valley. After spending a night at a friend's house in Madison, Wisconsin, I flew via Denver to San Francisco. On the flight I was once again reminded of the fact that Raiders fans are everywhere – even way up above the clouds. Because that's where I met Sherry from Birmingham, Alabama. She works as an ER nurse in Santa Rosa and is a life-long Raiders fan.
After a delightful conversation we wished each other (and the Raiders) good luck at the San Francisco airport. At the baggage claim I finally met the two SWARCO Raiders coaches invited to this year's International Guest Coach Program: Markus Krause and Robert Balazinec. They had some trouble finding their luggage (check out their blog). It was around midnight when we finally arrived in Oakland. After an hour-long wait for our pizza we hit the pillow.
About five hours later my phone rang. It was Santos Carrillo, head coach of the SWARCO Raiders. He was on his way to the San Francisco airport after a week of vacation and wanted to see us. After a short visit we went to the Raiders office where we met the other international coaches. All together we rode up to Napa – in a stretch limousine. What a way to ride!
Later that afternoon the coaches turned into little kids in a candy store. Yes, you guessed right. It was practice time and the international guests were welcomed by an enthusiastic Oakland Raiders team. The smiles on the international coaches' faces told me everything I needed to know. They enjoy every moment out there on the practice field.
And for me? It's great to be back. The first thing I noticed was the higher intensity at practice compared to last summer. There's a passion out there that you'd love to bottle up and sell it on the street as Raiders spirit. Just awesome!
Thanks for reading my blog and GO RAIDERS!