Locals enjoy World Cup experience in Germany
|Soccer fans parade in the streets of Kaiserslautern during the fan fest before the U.S. vs. Italy game.
|Bill Romberger, Lance Bieker, Brett McIntosh and Nick Leduc - former Island Football Club players - pose for a photo in Kaiserslautern Stadium.
|Lance Bieker looks out the window of Hohenwerfen Schloss, which was built in 1142 A.D. Islander Photos: Courtesy Nick Leduc
Former Islanders Lance Bieker, Bill Romberger and Brett McIntosh, along with longtime Bradenton resident and former Island Football Club teammate Nick Leduc, traveled to Germany June 16-22 for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Bieker, Leduc and McIntosh flew over and met up with Romberger in Amsterdam to start their week-long adventure and to allegedly pick up their game tickets at a coffee shop.
From there they traveled to Mannheim, where they spent the night in an attempt to recharge their batteries after a long flight and their night in Amsterdam.
The following day, McIntosh and Romberger went north to Frankfurt to attend the June 17 Portugal vs. Iran game, while Leduc and Bieker went east to Kaiserslautern to attend the International Fan Fest. Leduc described Fan Fest as an almost "Bourbon Street" atmosphere with a tremendous spirit of friendship among the thousands who attend. There were hundreds of team supporters parading up and down the streets, waving national flags and singing songs to support their teams.
That evening, the local guys met up in Kaiserslautern to attend the U.S. vs. Italy game. That game saw the Americans rebound from and extremely poor effort in their opening game against the Czech Republic. The game ended in a 1-1 tie despite the States playing a man down for a large portion of the match.
The group then took the train to Munich and from there they rented a car and drove to Salzburg for a look at the Austrian Alps. There they found a really cool Irish pub that was carved into the side of the mountain. They then ascended 2,000 meters up the mountain to Kitzbehul, where they visited Hohenwerfen Schloss, or castle, which was built in 1142 to guard the valley from invaders.
It was here that Bieker got rescued by a local girl who noticed he was trapped in his rental car. Bieker had stayed behind in the car, while his "friends" had gone ahead to the pub. The young woman was the owner of the Italian restaurant where they had all dined and she noticed he was locked in the car.
She walked down to the pub to alert his travel companions and after much laughter and criticism, they unlocked the door to free him. A small wager was then placed between Bieker, McIntosh and Leduc that once closed inside, they also couldn't get out of the car. Bieker was 40 Euros richer after that lesson.
After the Austrian Alps experience, the group traveled back to Munich and bid farewell to McIntosh, who apparently has a real job that he had to get back to in Sarasota.
The remaining threesome traveled just north of Munich to a little town called Oberhoffer. Word quickly spread that some Americans were in town so folks came out to greet them. Despite very little English being spoken, the Americans were welcomed with open arms.
June 21 had them traveling to Gelsenkirchen for the Portugal vs. Mexico match. They were extremely impressed with the Mexican fans, which made up 85 percent of those in attendance. The Mexican fans stood and sang songs to support their team for the entire game!
After that game, Romberger was dropped off in Frankfurt for his journey home, while Bieker and Leduc traveled to Nuremburg to watch what turned out to be the last game for the U.S. team, which lost 2-1 to Ghana.
The locals were extremely impressed with Germany's handling of the tournament and their transportation system. They thoroughly enjoyed driving on the Autobahn where they were passed as if they were standing still, despite their speed of 120 mph.
The group had such a great time that plans are already being formulated for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Ron Pepka teamed up with two different teammates to sweep last week's horseshoe proceedings at the Anna Maria City Hall pits.
On June 24, Pepka and Sam Samuels were the only team to emerge unscathed from pool play to lay claim as champions. A playoff for second place ensued between three teams that had 2-1 records in pool play.
Steve Doyle and Jay Disbrow edged Mitch Soffer and Debbie Rhodes by a 22-19 score to advance to the runnerup game against Tom Rhodes and George McKay. Rhodes and McKay rolled, posting an easy 23-8 victory to claim second place.
Pepka teamed up with John Johnson on June 27 to defeat Sam Samuels and Herb Ditzel 26-12 in a match that saw Pepka end play with a two-ringer "six pack." The win was the fifth consecutive trip to the winner's circle for Pepka.
Play gets under way at 9 a.m. every Wednesday and Saturday at the Anna Maria City Hall pits. Warmups begin at 8:45 a.m. followed by random team selection. There is no charge to play and everyone is welcome.
Fore! Young golfers tee off at camp
As times change, so does the Island and the sport’s offering to Island youths. The newest activity added to the Anna Maria Island Community Center’s repertoire is a junior golf program.
Janet Stokes, wife of the late Bud Stokes, an avid golfer, sponsors the program named in his memory.
The five-week Bud Stokes Junior Golf Program is a first for the Center and is being taught by 18-year golf professional Steve Dietz. He’s a member of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, which earns the Island program some credibility.
Dietz is presently the golf director and instructor at the Ben Sutton Golf School in Sun City, and was formerly the head pro at Sara Bay Country Club in Sarasota and the Seven Rivers Country Club in Tampa. Dietz said he has been an instructor at the Sutton Golf School for seven years and estimates that around 3,500 students attend yearly what is considered one of the largest golf schools in the United States.
Janet Stokes said she wants the Island golf program to “start small, and grow into something big.” As of now, there are more than a dozen students ranging from age 7 to 18 in the Island program.
Stokes also noted that there are numerous golf camps offered in the summer in Genesee County, Mich., where she formerly lived. And she wanted to bring the camp concept to Florida where the number of golf courses and the golfing population is very large.
Janet remembers her husband’s life dream came true when a couple of friends asked him to travel to Scotland with them to play on a 150-year-old course.
She also said Paul Azinger, famous professional golfer who resides in Manatee County, once approached Bud to try out a new club he’d been given at the Bradenton Country Club. “He loved golf,” she said.
Dietz brings a unique blend of teaching, playing and coaching to junior golfers. He’s enthusiastic about developing young players to their best potential and introducing new players to the game of golf.
“Its always nice to help kids. After all, they’re the future of golf,” said Dietz.
This camp is a great opportunity for kids to learn the game of golf from an expert and for a great deal.
Broken down, the cost per lesson is under $4, when normally people pay hundreds of dollars for pro lessons, if they ever even get the opportunity.
The golf camp activities and times are varied from week to week depending on available tee times at Pinebrook Golf Course in Bradenton, where the students will be using the driving range and the course later on in the program.
Dietz has included cage instruction at the Holmes Beach City Hall Field, where the students’ mechanics, form and swing will be corrected, perfected and critiqued before they hit the links.
At the end of the program, there will be a tournament amongst all the campers.
The young golfers will learn valuable lessons about the importance of maintaining a positive attitude, making decisions by thinking about the consequences, defining and setting goals and how to transfer values from the golf course to everyday life.
Equipment is provided by the Center, but players are encouraged to bring and use their own clubs. For more information, contact Andy Jonatzke at the Center, 778-1908.