A Great Day To Be An American 1

Team USA with Ex-Prime Minister Taro Aso and US Ambassador John Roos

The day began with gale force winds at 4am, waking myself and my family.  As I burrowed my way into Tom’s chest, fearful that the windows of my 18th floor apartment would blow in, I questioned the gods who once again would keep my in-laws from watching their grandsons play a football game together in Japan.  In October, 2009, they flew to Tokyo to watch them play only to have the game cancelled due to swine flu.  Another opportunity presented itself when the All-Stars from the Kanto Plains Football League were invited to take on the U-19 Japanese Football team in a friendship match strangely named the Camillia Bowl.  Back they flew to Tokyo, this time bringing Tom’s sister Nancy as well.  The day before the game was sunny and 70 degrees and the boys had their final practice at the Atsugi Naval Facility.  The team was comprised of all-star players from the American School in Japan,  Zama, Kinnick and Yokosuka (the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force facilities based around Tokyo).  The boys had practiced only four Saturdays prior to taking on the Japanese.  At 5am, the winds died down and the sun came out.  The game would be played after all.  The stadium was in Kawasaki, about 1/2 hour outside of Tokyo.  The boys left earlier by train and we followed later in a mini-bus, rented for the occasion.  We got there a bit early and were able to take over the stands at the 50 yard line.  We brought our family flag with us, the one that was flown at the capital building in Providence Rhode Island and we hung it with pride in front of the stands.  Exactly at 2pm, the anthems of both countries were sung.  Afterwards, the ex Prime Minister of Japan Taro Aso, the US Ambassador of Japan, John Roos, and Admiral Kevin Donegan from Yokosuka came onto the field for the coin toss.  Thomas was the head captain and joined the dignitaries on the field.  Japan won the toss and elected to receive.  After the end of the first drive, Japan failed to score and it was Team USA’s ball.  Hayden stepped onto the field as the starting QB and it felt as thought I stepped onto the field with him.  He bent down behind the center, called the cadence and my heart beat wildly.   Things were moving in slow motion.  The ball snapped and it was in Hayden’s hands and then time sped up. It wasn’t long before we had scored the first touchdown and then the points began to rack up on the US side.  In the first quarter Hayden threw the ball to his big brother Thomas for a touchdown.  The US fans were screaming; many of which had Jardine on the back of their sweatshirts.  Deep into the third quarter the Ambassador came down out of the VIP booth and we got to chat about the game and the boys and how well they were doing.  He asked if maybe they could tone it down a bit – it was getting a bit uncomfortable in the booth!  And then the prime minister handed down a box of frosted Costco donuts for the Jardine boys.  We sat in the stadium surrounded by the parents of the players, the moms and dads who were in the armed services, proudly wearing their son’s team jerseys, screaming every time they made a great play.  When the game ended, it was 61 -0 and Thomas went onto the field to accept the team trophy from the Prime Minister.  Thankfully he remembered to bow when receiving it.  And Hayden was on the field too, accepting the award for Best Offensive Player of the game.  We packed up our blankets, sweatshirts and empty beer cans and ran onto the field for photos with the boys.  Thomas was asked for his first autograph!  Midway through the game, my mother in-law whispered to me that it was the most important game of her life (and as a coach’s wife, she’s seen her fair share of games).  It was a great day to be an American and an even better day to be a Jardine.