USFooty Scholarship Player

Journal Entries

April 10, 2002

April 9, 2002

April 8, 2002

April 5-7, 2002

April 4, 2002

April 2, 2002

April 1, 2002

March 31, 2002

March 30, 2002

March 29, 2002

March 28, 2002

March 27, 2002

March 26, 2002

March 25, 2002

March 23/24, 2002

March 22, 2002

March 21, 2002

March 20, 2002

March 18, 2002

March 4, 2002

Other article

Cincinnati Dockers' starting Ruckman, 21 year old, 6'5" 190lb, Jeremy Kraus has been
selected by the USAFL to be the 2002 AFL Scholarship Player. The AFL Scholarship Program takes a promising American to Melbourne for several weeks as a guest of the 2000 AFL Champions, the Essendon Bombers. During these weeks, Jeremy will train with Essendon's legendary coach, Kevin Sheedy, and play football with some of the best young players in Australia.

Jeremy Kraus
Jeremy Kraus leaps high. Click for larger Image

April 10, 2002

I am very sad to say that this will be my last journal entry for this
incredible journey I've been on. I have accomplished so much in the realm of
footy over the past three weeks, that I am now upset that I haven't been
playing longer. I needed this game to be around when I was 4 or 5 like all
of the guys over here. I must admit that it's really nice getting to live
just like they do. Life couldn't be better in fact. I got to live that life
for three short weeks. (all of which flew by) I lived the life that every
youngster dreams about. I played alongside the best in the game and loved
every last minute. It's not an easy life, but it's certainly a satisfying
one. The crowds are incredible with their enormous cheering and their
undying support. I would give anything to be just like these guys! They just
have about 16 years more experience by the time they're my age. It's
incredible how nuts about footy everyone is over here. Little kids barely
old enough to talk it seems already have a footy in their hands and are
trying to put it on their boots. I realize that I've got to come home soon
and head back to school, but I'm certainly going to be playing as much footy
as I can while I have the chance! You might say I've got the footy fever
from this place!

All things said, I had a great experience and hope that this program
continues for more young men to share in these types of things. You will see
and do more than most people ever dream of doing. It's truly an amazing
thing to undergo. I strongly recommend getting to Australia to anyone
seeking a little adventure. I've only seen a tiny piece and I'm already in
love. This place has so much to offer a visitor. The people are friendly,
the city is exciting, and the sights are incredible! I can't thank everyone
enough for putting this program together.

Before I get to my THANKS I'd like to get that link out to everyone that I
promised yesterday. These are websites recommended by Lisa Sutherland, the
dietitian for the Bombers. Here they are

She's more than happy to take any questions you may have for her at her
e-mail account

As for thanking everyone involved enough, I doubt it's possible. I have
worked with so many wonderful people on this project and it's been handled
so well. Everyone involved has been terrific to deal with and I'm sorry in
advance for anyone I may accidentally leave out. Here's my best shot...

Special Thanks to all of the following...

Andrew Irwin - He put up with me or put me up in his home for three weeks.
That's no easy task, but we got along great and became pretty good friends
I'd say. Good on ya, mate! And thanks to Fay for spoiling me with incredible
cuisine. I ate like a champion thanks to her!

Rich Mann - He helped develop this program from it's start. He also does a
lot of planning and contacting to see that everything goes well. You've done
a great job, Rich. Thank you for everything!

Coach Kevin Sheedy - He is also responsible for developing this program. He
taught me so much about footy and I don't think I even scratched the surface
of what he knows. He is a great person to talk to and truly a legend. It was
an honor, Sheeds!

Denis Ryan - He helped me get everything in order before I took off. He gave
me a lot of encouragement and made sure that everything was in order.

Paul "Plugger" O'Keefe - He set up a lot of the things that I needed to do
on my trip and saw to things running smoothly.

Gary Hill - He gave me great advice and helped me to prepare for what I was
going to be doing.

The Essendon FOotball Club - I worked with so many of the staff members that
it may be impossible to list them all, but I would like to thank them all
for all of their hard work and patience. You were all great and made me feel
welcome in a place so far from home! Thanks to the players, coaching staff,
medical staff, "property boys", front office personnel, and the video guys.
I've got heaps of great memories working with you all. You know who you all
are. And oh yeah, Ady, you're the man!!

Assistant Coach Terry Daniher - I spent the majority of practices working
with Tezz and he was awesome to learn from. He's a legend and a great coach.
Good Luck this year, Tezz and thanks a ton!

The Selection Panel - Without your confidence, I would have never seen or
done so many unforgettable things. I can't thank you all enough and I
sincerely appreciate the opportunity you gave me.

The USAFL Board responsible for funding the trip. I can't imagine putting a
price on what this experience was worth to me personally. You made it
possible and I am forever thankful!

The Cincinnati Dockers - You guys brought me along from a skinny kid without
a clue to a slightly heavier kid with a little more know-how. You guys were
great in everything you did for me over the past year. You are all the best
friends I could have asked for! I'll drink to that when I get back!

Coach Dan Ryan - Your teachings made me what I am today and got me where I
am. I can't say enough how thankful I really am. You're the best. (Suzie -
you were great,too!)

My Family and Friends - You all looked at me like I was a mad man when I
told you what aussie rules was, but you stood by me just the same. Thanks
for being there to help me get ready for this incredible trip. I couldn't
have done it without you. Thanks for being so patient, Erin, I'll see you
soon. I love you all!

Last but certainly not least, THANK YOU to all of the USAFL members for your
support and for helping make our league better. I look forward to meeting
more and more of you over the course of my career in footy. Many of you have
given me words of wisdom and encouragement already and I am very glad you
did so. I hope you have all enjoyed what I've laid out for you the past
three weeks. There will be more stuff floating around the league as the
season gets going I'm sure. Thanks again to everyone! I am sorry if I left
anyone out. No hard feelings!

Cheers one last time from Down Under,


April 9, 2002

First thing today was to meet with the Bombers dietican, Lisa Sutherland. I
accidentally forgot to bring her web address with me to this internet cafe,
but I'll be sure to send it on soon! Anyways, I spoke to Lisa about what
were the important types pf things for players to eat before and after
games. She gave me tons of great info that I think you will all find very
helpful to increasing your level of play! I sure learned a lot and I thought
I was a decently healthy guy. I've got some changes planned in my diet! She
gave me great plans for pre-game meals, post-game meals for proper recovery,
and even day before a game meal ideas. She covered all the bases in diet.
She was very helpful and even told me to post her personal e-mail address so
that players can seek individual consultation. I'll be sure to get that out
soon, too. (Andrew's PC is still down.) She's a super nice lady and really
knows her stuff! Here's a quick fact that i picked up today - after only 2%
dehydration, you begin to lose your motor skill level. Many pro footballers
will show up to the game with that much dehydration before they ever put on
their boots! Just imagine where they're at after running 3 quarters!!

After speaking with Ms. Sutherland, I met with the physio for some more
clinical observations. I woke up and felt a little better about the pain. I
also gained some good range of motion back. Only problem was this one way of
moving my arm. The physio has been great as far as making sure I'm
comfortable and trying to help me out. I feel pretty weak only making it
through a little over a quarter of my game, but I saw the hit again today on
TV and it isn't any prettier! I had to get some x-rays done and they came
back with refreshing results. Nothing broken in there! The bad news is that
he's still a little concerned, so he's sending me along to a doctor who's
going to look into the possibility of some tendon or ligament damage. My
right arm just isn't quite working right yet! It's a bummer that I'm not
going to be playing any footy this weekend, but I'm still hopeful for a game

My little TV documentary was on this morning and I recorded it to bring
home. It's pretty neat what all they pieced together to make it. They were
really nice about it and cut out all of my mistakes!! I was pretty happy
about the whole thing and I got some positive feedback from the people that
caught it. I'll have to see about maybe getting it up on the web somehow, so
everyone can see me get the smackdown at Eltham!

I also met with Warren Mills of Burley - Sekem today. He wanted to sit down
and talk about US Footy for a bit while I was in town. We had some great
conversation and he gave me an American Revolution guernsey that they had
recently come up. It's pretty sharp! I think I like the idea of wearing the
stars and stripes! He was really impressed with how well things were going
for the USAFL. He just wanted to meet with some of the guys he provides for
from 20000km away. I liked talking to him and he was pumped about the US
team coming over in August.

That wraps it up for today. I'll be putting together one last e-mail
tomorrow that will include the dietician links, my final thoughts, and my
thank you's. I've got some homework to do tonight! Unfortunately, Coach
Sheedy isn't available for lunch until later next month. He's been very
busy, but still incredibly accomodating. He promises that we'll do lunch
once I'm back around after my back-packing and he's not celebrating any big
milestones that week. This week's game is Essendon v. Brisbane. Also the 500
mark for Sheedy as a coach. Should be a lot of emotion there and a lot of
great footy as well!!



April 8, 2002

It was gorgeous outside today and I was pretty disappointed about not
getting a chance to run with the Bombers anymore. I can't even describe what
a rush that was. There were times where I would catch myself with my mouth
hanging wide open watching these guys perform. They are all sensational
athletes as well as class-act guys. I got along well with everyone I came
across and had the time of my life! I learned tons of great stuff and can't
wait to pass on some new ideas back home. This experience will hopefully not
only go down as one of my best months ever, but as a big step forward in
USAFL promotion. I think we'll learn a lot from the contacts we've made
here. It'll be great to see how we progress as the program continues to

I decided to attend the practice session at Windy Hill as a spectator. It
was their first training here this season and Rioli made his comeback as
well. There were lots of fans gathered to watch the Bombers. I sat at the
practice and took detailed notes on what was going on and what the purpose
of each exercise was. I think I see the game quite a bit differently now. I
look at things happening on the field that I never noticed before. There are
of lot of areas that I can improve upon personally. I am looking forward to
getting better. I also hope to make the Dockers a little better by sharing
some of my newfound knowledge! (Sorry everybody else!)

I met with the physio about my bloddy shoulder and he put me in a sling for
a few days to rest it and let the swelling go down. It's doing better each
day, but I'm still missing a lot of my motion range. I am going in for
precautionary x-rays tomorrow. Thank goodness I bought that sports rider
insurance! I think I'll be just fine. I have footy to be playing afterall;
no time for injuries!!



April 5-7, 2002


My host Andrew's computer got a virus and is down, so David Thurmond from OC
is helping me get emails out. Friday was game day so we didn't have any
practices. I went to the club to pick up my ticket, and while there, got the
phone number for the dietician. I have an appointment with her on Tuesday to
discuss a footballers diet. I went to the Essendon game Friday night againt
Richmond, and sat in the Stats Box, next to the Coaches Box. I had an
awesome view. The first half was impressive, with Essendon putting through
85 points to Richmond's 25. After halftime, the game slowed down quite a
bit, but Essendon still finished on top 112-60. Before the game, the guys
were really concerned with hitting their targets, and they obvisouly did a
fine job. It was also Sheed's 750th game as a player/coach. Teddy Richardson
made his AFL debut...that was cool to see. The team was very supportive and
"honored" him after the game. After the game I went home and straight to
bed. I have a big day tomorrrow!


Had a radio interview at 930am with Francis Leach on the ABC network. It
went well. I had to hurry out to Eltham afterwards for warm-ups at 11am. The
Eltham Panthers have the same uniform as the Bombers. Found out that I would
be starting in the Ruck for the Reserves. I was amped! Warm-ups went
well...we did a lot of short kicking and handballing. The idea was to just
keep moving and work up a sweat. The Reserves guys are about the same age as
the typical American Club...ranging anywhere from 19 on up to 35. There were
approxiamately 150 people out watching the game....and not all were
relatives....some were just footy fanatics!

I played a very aggressive 1st quarter, winning most of the rucking
contests. The umpires were great at bouncing the ball! The game was faster
than I was used to playing in CInci, but no where near as fast as the VFL
game. The level of skill would be greater than the States in most cases.
Onfield communication was unbelievable....there was constant chatter from
your teammates, and everyone knew where to be in relation to the
ball....always being front and center. Eltham played a zone defense on the
kickouts. I like the zone because it makes the opposition pop the ball up
and gives us the chance to stay on the offensive.

Unfortunately, at the end of the 1st quarter while taking an overhead mark I
was taken down hard by the opposition. It was a high tackle and my head and
shoulders were driven into the ground with all of my weight and his weight
bearing down. My shoulder quit working....couldn't lift it above my head. We
tried running it out using cold spray stuff and ice but it was immobilized
by the swelling much to my dismay. I came off early in the 2nd quarter for
the remainder of the day. I was pretty upset because I was having a good
game and really wanted to make an impact. I went out of the game when the
Reserves had the lead, and they fortunately held on for the win. Since then
I have been doing a lot of icing and I'll be seeing the physio at Essendon
on Monday morning. (Damn my luck!)

The social club functions similarly to the ones I've seen in the States.
Both teams get together for a drink after the game. But there seems to be a
much greater rivalry between clubs, so some of the friendlyness is lost.
These guys REALLY go at eachother on the field.


Woke up after three hours of sleep and the shoulder is still killing me. I'm
glad my time with the Bombers is up because I would have hated to miss a
training run with them. I'll be going to practice on Monday to take pictures
and get the last bit of autographs. Can't believe it's gone so quickly.
Realizing that my time with the Bombers has almost expired and dealing with
this injury made it a pretty woeful weekend. At least I'll be seeing another
AFL game at the MCG today.

Dave Thurmond and I went to the Port Adelaide Power vs. Melbourne Demons
game at the MCG. Dave's buddy Sean Watson, from the Phoenix team, hooked us
up with tickets to sit in the Member's section of the "G." Our seats were
great, pretty close to the action. And even though we didn't barrack for
either side, it's still good experience to watch these guys play the game.
Handball support was unbelievable as the Demons moved up the ground at will.
They used numerous short kicks and lots and lots of handballs. The Power
would flood the forward line...bringing the forwards up to play defense. It
was an interesting tactic but I don't see it working well in the States. It
requires SUPERIOR fitness!

Dave has been extremely helpful, since my untimely accident, helping to type
this email. He also taught me about cricket as we watched a match on TV.
That was my bit of Aussie culture for the day. It's pretty good stuff once
you figure out what's going on.


Jeremy (And Dave)

April 4, 2002

Hi guys,

I had a really exciting day today! It all started with a good day before a
game practice in the morning with the Essendon senior players. They are just
amazing out there! I gave it my best and had a pretty good run. It is always
good to see the best work their magic!

I finished up the TV interview that I had started yesterday in the
afternoon. During this finishing, the camera man in charge of the shots,
asked if I'd like to go the Footy Show Live! That was a no -brainer! Hell
yes, I wanted to go!! I invited Dave from O.C. to go with me since we've
been hanging out a bit more with us both playing for Eltham. He was almost
as excited as I was at the opportunity.

I had a nice long training run with the Eltham Panthers starting at 6 and
ending around 7:30. The entire practice was under the lights, which was very
new to me. It really makes you focus on the ball even more as it comes to
you! Their coach, "Freeze", was stressing the importance of following up
your disposals. Whether it be a handball or a kick, follow it up and back up
the bloke you're giving it to. You can shepard for him, become an optional
target, or help recover a fumbled disposal. ALways practicing the back ups
will ensure you do it in the games, making your side that much stronger.
Practice went well and they did a good bit of running the length of the
field, so fitness was up.

After training, we had to hurry to the Footy Show. We got seats at the
special guests tables and were treated to meat pies, sausage rolls, sodas,
and candy bars. Not the healthiest stuff on Earth, but it was still very
nice. The show was awesome. The studio audience really gets into the show
and the broadcasters were great. We had a great time and got to ask
questions at the end. I asked what Eddie McGuire thought of international
footy being played. He recognized the American accent and recognized me as
being the Scholarship player. I put in a shameless plug for the Cincinnati
Dockers and spoke to him about how things were different in the states. He
mentioned the lack of facilities with AFL clubs compared to sports clubs in
the states. He also commented on the lack of grounds appropriate for footy
in the US. He really knows his footy and he cited South Africa as a place
where footy could become a very real recruitment center. That should be good
oncentive for us Americans to work even harder at improving ourselves
personally and our league in general. He was aware that Americans were
loving the game and thought it was great. We're coming along in a big way
and it's been great sharing that with the people here. All sorts of people
stopped me after the show and wished me luck in my future football days. It
was truly an honor being there amongst the finest of football fans. I'll
never forget tonight!



April 2, 2002

Today was a tourist day for me. We had the day off and I wanted to get a few
things in before I move on next week. I can't believe that my time here is
almost up already. It's gone way too quickly and it seems like I was just
catching on, too! It had been amazing thus far and I'm sure I've still got
plenty more coming in the next few days. Back to my day; I got up early and
booked a tour to Phillip Island.

Phillip Island is famous for its Penguin Parade. That's not all that there
is to do however. I went to a petting zoo with kangaroos, wombats, and emus.
There were other animals there, but those were the only ones that I hadn't
seen before. I fed the 'roos right out of my hand! It was cool and I'm
hoping that I have a good picture of it. After the petting zoo, we went on
to the Koala Reserve where there are 21 koala bears running loose. We found
a few of them and got pretty close up for some more great pictures. After
the reserve we headed for the seals and penguins area. I didn't see any
seals, but I saw more penguins than I ever really wanted to. They come in
from the water at night in groups on this one particular beach. It was
pretty interesting to watch for a little while, but it got pretty ordinary
after a while.

I saw some great scenery as well and it was breath-taking. I mean it was
absolutely amazing how beautiful the landscape was at nightfall. I am hoping
my pictures came out well, but they still won't show it all. I am sold on
Australia!! I definitely recommend this land to anyone wanting to see some
unique and wonderful parts of the world! (And I've only been in Melbourne!)
The footy games are amazing and there's plenty of great scenery to see as
well. What more could you ask for??



April 1, 2002
Hey guys,

It was a beautiful day for footy from the start today. It was high 20's and
nothing but sunshine. I had weights in the morning followed by a special
hand speed session afterwards. The coach would hit tennis balls at us from
about 10 feet away and we would do our best to catch them. You had to be on
your toes the entire time, because you never knew when one might come your
way. There was also a guy hand-balling at us when we weren't getting the
balls hit at us. It was a good exercise to mix things up a bit. I stayed
afterwards for a one on one form kicking session with the kicking coach. He
went through some tips for me to learn from about good form kicking. We did
a simple drill involvingbalancing on one leg and dropping the ball on to
your kicking foot for a short kick. It helps with the balance arm and makes
your drop even more crucial to have a good kick. We stayed out for an extra
20 minutes or so. I thanked him for his time and he was telling me that he
could imagine how hard it must be for Americans picking up footy at such
late stages. He also pointed out to me the importance of keeping your body
square as you kick through the ball. Shoulders, hips, and feet all lined up
in the direction you desire to kick in.

Before the afternoon session, the players all met in a video room to go over
the good and the bad points of their Saturday night game versus Geelong.
Coach Harvey ran the show with Coach Sheedy adding his points in addition to
what Harvey had to say. Overall, the coaches were pretty content with the 50
point win, but they weren't totally satisified either. They won't be until
the BOmbers can really play the perfect game. Coach Kevin Sheedy really
pushes for perfection out of his players!

I had lunch at the club with a few of the guys and then went to practice at
the Essendon Grammar school. Windy Hill has been under construction for the
entireity of the preseason, so we haven't done much there. It was a fairly
simple training run to get the legs going again and working on our kicks. We
went hard for an hour and a half or so before doing our cool-down exercises.
It's nice going all out for a short amount of time rather than dragging out
slow sessions at a mediocre pace. I really like the way the Bombers operate
their training sessions. You always feel good afterwards and you know you
got a heap of things done in the day.



March 31, 2002
Hey guys,

I hope you all enjoy your Easter as much as I did! I started Easter Sunday
with a post-game recovery seesion at 10am. I went to Williamstown Beach
where I learned what a recovery day was all about. For the guys that didn't
play much or at all, there were "simmo's" to do. I was told to just go ahead
and stay with the group that played all out, because I wanted nothing to do
with these things. After talking to a few of the guys, I guess it's where
they basically try to put you through gamelike situations very rapidly. It's
a bit of hell on Earth from what I was told. I even asked the coaches for an
idea of what I'd have to go through and they told me to just move along. I
guess I'm lucky to have been spared. I really did want to see what they were
like, honestly!

What I did go through was a bit of walking out the sore spots, then going
through a good stretch routine. This was followed up by a nice brisk jog.
After the jogging was done, we went for a walk in the water (darn cold
water). Jogging in the water is said to be one of the best ways to recover
after a hard day's work. The sand is good on the joints and the cold
saltwater helps with aches and pains. I felt great afterwards!

During our jog, I had a chance to chat with Matthew Lloyd. I wanted to pick
his brain about what exactly he went through as he was preparing to put the
footy between the big sticks. He was really good about explaining step by
step his kicking practices. Most important point I believe was his emphasis
on focusing on a central point in the goal and concentrating on it. As you
prepare to drop the ball on to your foot, switch your focus to the ball's
drop and then your foot connecting with the ball. This is the area I most
commonly make mistakes, so I'm sure glad to take his advice and really work
on watching the ball from a good drop on to my boot. After seeing Lloyd kick
for 6 goals against the Cats, I'm sure his advice is good as gold!

I then went down to St. Kilda again to get some sun and have a bit of a kick
in the nice parks down there. My roommate, Andrew, kicked with me for about
an hour or so. We then went in and watched some of the footy on TV. It was a
pretty mild day, but we made the best of it. The weather hasn't been great
over the past few days, but it shaped up nicely for my first Easter Down



March 30, 2002
Hey everyone,

Today was another huge footy day for me starting bright and early. I was
able to dress for the reserves today versus the Geelong reserves at their 11
am match in Geelong. We had to be on the road by 7:45, so I was up and
rolling at 7. The game didn't go so well this time for the Bombers' side. We
lost in a fairly close match, but Geelong was in control for most of the
game. Essendon had called up a few younger guys to try out, so my playing
time was cut a little shorter than I got last time. It was o.k. though,
because any experience at all is good experience at this level. I played in
the half forward flanker position. I didn't get to any kicks unfortunately.
I did put forth my best effort and the guys said that I was doing fine. I
still managed to learn from the bench and the coaches that direct the game
from there. The locker room afterward was a sad one with Coach Daniher
addressing the team afterwards.

After the game, I had a bit of dinner and then went to the MCG for the
Bombers versus the Cats. I met up with all of the guys in their locker room
and got to walk out with them as they took the field. The MCG is by far the
best ground I have ever laid eyes upon. A footballer's dream come true.
(Very green, short grass without any pot-holes or hills.) It was huge, too.
Coach Mark Harvey later told me it was around 160 meters long. The game was
incredible as I sat in the coaches' box with all of the Bomber coaches. I
listened in on all of their commentary back and forth to the bench. It's a
very intense place to be during the game. These guys really know their footy
though! They pointed out things that I had never even thought of throughout
the game. They pointed out the good and the bad. Listening in was
incredible. The Bomber came out victorious, winning handily over Geelong.
Their fight song came on after the game and the whole lot of Bombers fans in
the crowd were singing along as the team headed in after the game. That
locker room was buzzing big time after the game. There were media people
everywhere and the Bombers themselves made a big circle and sang their song.
It made my hair stand up and I got that chill down my back! They had just
one their first game of the season and they were pumped up. It was much
nicer being in that locker room than the one I sat in earlier.

As I sat through both games and listened to a number of different coaches
speak, I would say that the single most important topic covered in every
address was HUSTLE. Just flat out getting after the ball and getting more
and more possessions. Possession was the most observed statistic in both
games as well. The desire to get the ball would lead to victory in the
coaches eyes and that proved to be quite true. Coahc Daniher said he wasn't
so sure he'd seen 100% effort from everyone in the morning game and we lost.
The seniors put forth their best effort and totally dominated the
possessions in their game and they won. This would be my big learning point
of the day. Get the ball, keep the ball, and the opposition can't possibly
beat you.

It is getting late and I have to go to recovery tomorrow morning at 9. Have
a Safe and Happy Easter everyone!



March 29, 2002
Hey Guys,

It was another rainy day here in Melbourne, but a lot of good things
happened despite the dreary atmosphere. I had a radio interview with 3AW
Radio. It's a huge footy radio station from what I was told. They asked me
several interesting questions about the future of footy. I'm going to try to
get the media back to the states so everyone can have a listen.

After my interview I had to get to Windy Hill for what was supposed to be a
light training run. The poor weather conditions forced us to stay indoors
for meetings instead. I sat in on the reserves meeting with Coach Terry
Daniher reviewing some tape of previous games. He pointed out the positives
and the negatives of their performance. It was good to see the errors and
then hear the correct way of handling various situations. He spoke about all
different areas of the game from the ruck to the forward line to the full
back. Terry has seen it all firsthand and is great at leveling with the
players. I've learned a greta deal from him personally. It was at this
meeting, that I learned that I would be on the roster and eligible to play
tomorrow morning versus Geelong's reserves! I was really excited about
getting the chance to go at it again with the world's best footballers!

After the meeting, I was given my pass to get into the seniors AFL game
tomorrow night versus Geelong at the MCG. I also got a locker room pass that
I will use to get down on to the field before the match. I will be sitting
in the coaching box with all of Essendon's coaches!! Words can't express how
awesome that is going to be! I'll have a birdseye view on the entire game
and I'll get to listen in on what strategies the Bombers will employ against
the Cats. It's predicted to be a really good game. After seeing last night's
action and all this on Saturday, I am going to need to just sit down and
come back down to Earth. This weekend will be unbelieveable! That's all that
I have for now, but I'll have a whole lot of tales to tell tomorrow night
after the game!

Wish me luck!



March 28, 2002
Hello Everyone,

Today was an exciting day from the start. I went to weight training and had
a good lift to start off the day. After weights, we went outside to do some
development work. It was another rainy, dreary day today, so I got some
practice handling a wet ball. We focused on kicking on goal from various
angles. We worked on the "banana" kick and the "screw" kick. They are both
good ways of getting the ball to curve inwards to the goals when you are on
the boundary line, nearly level with the posts. These guys can sure put a
nasty curve on the ball! I was quite impressed with some of the angles they
could kick through. I can't tell you enough how incredible all of the
Bombers are. Their skill level makes my hair stand on end at times!

I did fairly well with the new kicks and picked up a few good pointers on
how to hold the ball properly and where to kick the ball in relation to your
foot. It was a very informative session. After we came in, I got my tape
from the reserves game I played in. I had a look and went over some of my
plays with the video guys. I may have gotten away with a bit of a shove, but
the rest of my spoils were legit! I was happy with the way I played. I
seemed under control and more capable of defending than I remember being
last year. The training here is definitely paying off!!

I spoke with Coach Sheedy about how I was doing. He is very accomodating and
I think he really enjoys seeing us try as hard as we can to pick up "their"
game. I am really looking forward to our lunch together next week. I'll have
a million things to ask about and I hope he does too. That is going to be a
day I will never forget! I've never really spoken to a true legend before,
so this will be a first. (Not that some of Essendon's players and staff
aren't legends also.)

I then got to go to my first ever AFL Matchup between the Richmond Tigers
(Sheeds' old squad) and the Collingwood Magpies. It was at the MCG and there
were over 65,000 people in attendance! It was so alive in the stands and
very loud! The footy fans are absolutely nuts about their games. I have
never experienced a game like that before! The fans are very mixed up - lots
of Tiger fans seated right amongst all the Pies fans. They really get on
each other and have a blast. There weren't any kind of fights, but they sure
get rowdy when they feel the umpires are mistaken! I had to cover my ears at
some points, because the fans can be down right BRUTAL. It was awesome being
there in person. The fans on tape seem pretty intense, but tape doesn't do
them justice. They are insane live. Richmond came out on top in a high
scoring game and I headed back home to get some rest. I had a long day and I
am pretty worn out. I'll find out tomorrow if I'm going to get a run with
the reserves in their last practice match. I've got my fingers crossed! I'll
let you know what's up tomorrow!



March 27, 2002

I had a long day today starting at 10 am with speed training at the track.
We worked on starting speed and planting and going. It was good to get out
and get the legs going before training. I am learning a lot about proper
running form which should help me pick up a step or two. I went home for
lunch around 11:00 and then headed back to the Whitten Oval for skills at

Jeremy Kraus
Jeremy Kraus at Whitten Oval. Click for larger Image

Skills was another good practice run and I am learning more and more from
the guys each day. We were split into two groups to make the drills more
manageable. It went well and we went hard for an hour and a half followed by
some goal kicking at the end. I am drawing up the main kicking drills on
paper and we're going to get them posted at some point. Some are just too
complex to try to draw thru my e-mails. The biggest thing about these
training runs is that the players give 100% all the time from start to
finish. The conditioning happens in the off season and is maintained through
hard work at practices. This leads to shorter practice times. The guys are
in great shape and exhaust themsleves at every practice. It's a good system
and I'm glad I put in a great deal of running before I came, because
otherwise these sessions would kill me!

I have met Dave from Orange County during my stay here with Essendon and he
invited me to play with his club that plays out near where he's staying.
They're the Eltham Panthers. Dave has been showing up to some of Essendon's
trainings to learn from the best as well. We went through the Bombers
workout and then headed off to Eltham to play with the club out there. Their
training is much slower than the Bombers, but it gave me a great chance to
really concentrate on the mechanics of skills. There was no real rush on you
there, so it was good for working out the bugs in your form. I had a great
run twice today and am feeling pretty beat. I am going to get a run with
them after I am through with Essendon. The guys were really nice and
welcomed me to the club warmly. I'm not eligible to play with Bombers
anymore since the regular season has started, so this will give me a chance
to see how much I really learned. I'm sure it will be a good experience and
look forward to having a go! I'll be in touch again tomorrow. I have weights
in the morning, so its off to bed now!



March 26, 2002
Hello Everyone,

Today was my day off of footy and I sure am glad it was today, because the
weather took a turn for the TERRIBLE. It got cold and rainy. When I say
rainy, I mean it rained all day long. It was only like 15 degrees C! Thats
around the low 50's upper 40's I'd guess. It was a big change from the 70
degrees plus days we'd been having! I took my free day to go back to
downtown Melbourne. There is a lot to see and I've only got a short while
left before I take off. I visited the Victorian Marketplace. It is a
gigantic flea market / fresh fruit and vegetable / fresh fish / souvenir
market. It sells everything you could think of. I then wandered down into
the CBD (central business district). It's a bunch of modern skyscrapers
mixed in with lots of really old fashioned, rennovated buildings.

I was on a mission for my main souvenir. I visited three different
Aboriginal Art dealers before I finally settled on what I wanted. I was
looking for my very own didgeridoo. I had no idea how to shop for one, so I
took the advices of many people and finally made a decision based on that. I
ended up with a didge that's about 5 feet tall and weighs somewhere around
20 pounds. It is pretty neat looking, but I can't play a single note! I got
a learning video with it, so I'll hopefully be able to get out a note or two
in a couple of days. I'll let you know how I come along with it.

I'm feeling pretty good today after the tough run yesterday. I am ready to
get back to footy, because I absolutely hate shopping!! I've got speed
training tomorrow morning followed by a skills session in the afternoon.
It'll be a busy day, but I'm looking forward to getting out there some more
and picking up some more pointers. I'll let you know how I went tomorrow



March 25, 2002
Hello Everyone,

Today was another fine Melbourne day. It was warm and sunny and then it
sprinkled a few drops then right back to warm and sunny again. The weather
changes quickly and often here, but so far it's been very generous to our
training times. I had weight training this morning at 9:45. It was a good
overall workout.

I started out doing some jump-rope, then got into some jumping exercises. I
did 3 sets of box jumps with dumb bells in my hands to make it a little bit
harder on the legs. Then I did some maximum height vertical leaps. We do
bench presses, shoulder presses, leg presses, and sitting rows as well. The
ab workout was pretty strenuous as was the rope climbing exercises. You were
to hang for 5 seconds and then pull yourself up the rope as quickly as
possible. Not an easy task! Push-ups and situps are always in our routine as
are hip flexor stretches.

After we completed our weights session, we headed outside for some kicking
on goal. We had six stations to kick from, 3 shots each station. It was
about 35 meters out from goal each time from various angles. I would rate
myself as doing o.k., not great, but not terrible either. They don't call it
Windy Hill for nothing. The winds could reek a little havoc on your kicks if
you didn't compensate properly. I worked on that as well as proper dropping
of the ball onto the boot. It was a good chance to watch the pro's go
through their goal kicking routines. Talk about some dead-eye shooters!
These guys really put it through the big sticks. Missing wasn't an option!

We broke for a few hours before we went to our main training session at
Whitten Oval. It is the former home ground of the Western Bulldogs. It is
only a training ground and it gets used for VFL and other smaller league
games. The main skills session was very intense and very fast paced. No
walking around or stopping. You basically go all out non-stop for and hour
and a half or so. The conditioning takes care of itself if you just give it
your all for the entire practice. Coach Terry Daniher took a small group of
us aside and we had our own separate practice, because the entire roster was
there today and things were crowded. We worked a lot on marking and hitting
targets on the run. Terry put a special emphasis on always knowing where the
ball is and being prepared to go and get it at a second's notice. He likes
having things being decided randomly, so that players are always on their
toes and thinking about what they could do next. He also had us do some
leading out and kicking to leads. We did some hands work, where Terry would
kick at us very hard and we had to work on handling the rough pass and
getting rid of it quickly. It was a quick practice, but we got a lot done
and left it all on the ground. The five of us that went off with Terry had
been worked over hard and he congratulated us at the end for a job well
done. He just asks for hustle and hard work. He doesn't mind mistakes as
long as they're aggressive ones. That's a great rule of thumb and it seems
to be a big motto for all of Essendon's coaches. All out, all the time. It
was a great day and I learned heaps more. I am going to go rest up now and
get a good dinner around. I'm starving after all that work!



March 23/24, 2002

This is the last weekend off for the plyers, so most of the guys were taking
their girlfriends out on mini holidays. I, however, do not have the luxury
of taking my girlfriend anywhere, so I decided to do the tourist thing all
weekend. I didn't know how serious the situation was after our game, but I
learned the senior defensive player Dean Solomon really buggered his knee
and will miss the entire season. The local Bomber fans were devastated.

I saw a great up and coming Australian rock band, Grinspoon, Friday night.
They were really good and very entertaining. My roommate, Andrew, is a big
fan of theirs. I'd definitely see them again.

I got up on Saturday and called Plugger's nieces, Kate and Nellie. Nellie
took me out to Geelong with her as she ran a few errands. We hit the beaches
around Torquay for a quick swim in what felt like ice water! The scenery
was absolutely stunning! I also got to look at famous Bell's Beach. We then
headed back into Melbourne for a barbeque with Kate. It was a great day of
seeing sights and having a very knowledgeable local guide. They're really
good cooks, too! They treated me to steak, salad, and chips! We sat by the
river and watched boats passing by, talking about all sorts of stuff. It
was a good night, but we headed in fairly early, because we were all beat.

Sunday, I got up and decided I wanted to see downtown Melbourne. I got to
see it from an observation deck 55 stories up! Talk about amazing views! I
got some great photos of the major footy stadiums and the surrounding areas.
I'll see if I can send them along to get them posted. I then took the trams,
which are pretty easy to figure out, to St. Kilda for a day at the beach by
myself. I relaxed and saw some sights around St. Kilda, but mostly just
beach bummed my day away. I met some American girls that were studying
abroad and were absolutely nuts about footy. They had gotten to see some
practice matches and loved the game. They were from the Bronx, but they
insisted they'd find the closest team in the US to watch. I spoke with them
for a while and then headed back into Melbourne for dinner and bed. I'm beat
and I've been told that Monday training runs are the hardest of the week!!
I'll let you know how I came out tomorrow afternoon!



March 22, 2002
Hello Everybody,

I could classify today as one of the greatest days I've ever had! I got
good and rested up last night knowing we had a game today. I knew I
wouldn't play much, but when my time came I wanted to be ready for it. I
met with Essendon's communication director in the morning for a short
interview and some pictures. (I think that they'll be posted on their
website soon.) After our meeting, I got my ride to the field. We played at
Victorian Park. Williamstown is the B side or reserves for Collingwood.
The game was at 2pm, but we had to be there and ready by noon. Coach Terry
Daniher (an Essendon Legend) gave us a pregame talk about what the club was
looking for today. There was a stress on communicating on the ground,
accountability, and NO TURNOVERS. All of the assistant coaches put in a few
words of wisdom to their particular players. We were going to run a 3-5-4
zone defense when they were kicking out of their goal. I had never heard of
it before, so I had Terry explain to me what it all meant. It requires a
very mobile side to run it effectively. He also showed me what no forward
line stoppage meant. It was essentially saying that you don't want to crowd
the throw-ins with excess players. Keep players back so that they can be run
onto the ball and create plays. Give the ruck and his rover more options
once the ball is won basically.

After the prep talk, we went into warmups. Warmups are very important and
must be done throughout the match, not just before. PLayers that were on
the bench were constantly getting up and going through warmups as the game
was going on. The physio and training coach were always telling them to go
jog a bit, stretch, then jog back.

After warmups the game was ready to begin. I sat in the coaching box beside
Terry Daniher. He was on the phone to the bench coach for most of the game,
stopping every so often to point out certain aspects of the game to me. It
was very intersting to see the game through a coach's mind. Everything he
saw, he would point it out to the bench coach who told the runner what to
do. The runner then would go on to the field and relay the messages from the
box upstairs to the players. It wasn't only mistakes that they talked
about. Sometimes the runner was going out to tell a player what an excellent
job he'd done and to keep it up! Talk about encouragement!

I finally went to the bench after the first half of play and watched the
third quarter go by from the sidelines. Then Coach Sheedy told me to warm
up and kick a bit with a guy named Sam during the time between the third and
fourth quarters. During this break, typically the players and coaches met on
the ground to discuss strategy and point out flaws or good deeds done. I
was finally going to get a shot! I was put in the back pocket on the left
flank. I didn't care where I was, I was going to have fun and try to show
them something.

I had never played much defense before, but it was actually pretty fun. I
matched up on the tallest of their forwards and shadowed him around the
ground. I wasn't going to let this bloke have a mark like my life depended
on it! I was under some pretty heavy Collingwood pressure. I helped in 3
different spoils and even got my hands on a loose ball and handballed away
to one of my guys. It doesn't sound like much now, but it felt great at the
time! As the final horn sounded, we were winners. I had actually played a
quarter of VFL Footy and came out on top. The coaches were very nice in
congratulating me on a job well done. Coach Sheedy asked me how I was going
after the game and I told him that I had a blast! He told me job well done
and then went on his way. It was a huge rush to play in front of the small
crowd. It was even more awesome hearing the fans calling out the names of
the guys that I was running around with today. Matthew Lloyd had a go with
us as did Paul "Fish" Salmon. They were truly inspirational in how they
spoke to the team throughout the game coordinating the efforts.

I was in awe for most of the game watching the high flying marks and big
hits and tackles. It was footy like I had never seen it before. I can't
wait to see how incredible the firsts are when they play next weekend. I've
got a weekend off, so I'm going to see some Australia outside of Footy. Good
luck in training to all the clubs in the US! I'll write you all soon!



March 21, 2002
G'Day everyone!

Today has been pretty nasty weatherwise so far. It was pouring down rain
when I got up at 8. It had slowed down to a drizzle by the time I got my
ride to weight lifting this morning at 9:15. I went through the workout with
a young ruckman, Simon O'Keefe. We match up almost dead even in strength and
such. He's a really nice bloke and I think I'll probably lift with him for
the rest of my stay. Before I lifted, I got on the bike for about half an
hour to get the blood flowing. Simon and I then started off with some
squatting. We only did 2 sets of 6 reps since tomorrow will be our match
day. We then did dumbell shoulder presses followed by seated pulldowns. Next
we did our dumbell bench press. It was pretty odd refiguring my weights out
in kilos, since I'm so used to my weights being in pounds, but no worries -
I got it figured out to be just right. We tossed the medicine ball a bit to
work out our shoulders and back. Cleaning was the next bit of lifting we
did, which was fairly new to me, but it went well. Simon was very helpful in
showing me what to do. After cleans we got on to our backs and your partner
would toss a medicine ball at you and you would kick it back at them with
the bottoms of your feet. (Keep your feet together and bring your knees to
your chest.) After that we did some wall push-ups. These buggers are hard!!
Our last lift was a few abdominal exercises to keep up strong abs. Then it
came to be demolition time! This was very new to me and it's new to the guys
as well. Every lifting session, the weights coach tries to come up with new
ways of exercising different muscle groups through some sort of ordinary
task. Today we used a heavy sledge hammer to bash a tractor tire. It was
tiring and it definitely was a new form of working out for all involved!

The rest of my day is free. I have to rest up for the match tomorrow. I'll
only be eligible to play for one half, because Coach Sheedy wants me to
watch the game with him for a bit to get a bird's eye on the action. That
will be a great experience and I'll be learning from the bloody best! I
can't wait. I think I'll head to the grocery and get some food around this
afternoon. I spoke briefly with some guys about what they eat and I got some
pretty mixed responses. Some guys are very careful about what they eat and
the younger guys do as they please. I goofed when I said that I'd be playing
against Collingwood, its actually Williamstown. My bad, but either way it's
my first game abroad and I'm thouroughly pumped about getting a go already!
I'll let you know how I fared tomorrow after the game! I believe I'll be
wearing number 60 for the duration of my stay here. I think I look pretty
good wearing the red and black, but I look forward to wearing the purple,
red and green once I'm home!

Coach Sheedy spoke to me today about setting up a lunch with him. He's
really interested in US Footy, so it ought to be a great opportunity for us
to show him how how much we love the game in the US. I'm stoked!



March 20, 2002
Hello Everyone,

Today was an absolutely amazing day! I have never met such amazing people
with such status. They're super friendly and great to learn from.
I can't even begin to list the amount of people whom I met, but let's just
say I met the entire team and the coaching staff with nothing but smiles and
"How you going?" I felt very welcomed. It was awesome!

My day began at 9 am at Windy Hill (the training ground for the Bombers)
with a sprint workout. I learned some great techniques for sprinting. They
have a sprint coach that used to train Olympians! He told us the importance
of pumping the arms, but having the arms more relaxed as you pump them.
Don't have a locked arm while sprinting, but keep it loose and free flowing.
He also stressed the importance of leading your bounce out in front, so that
you don't slow down when running into it. He wanted us to work on keep ing a
steady pace while bouncing. We did some sprints with weights connected to
us via string and harnesses - they were short burst runs of about 30 meters
or so. We did a lot of stretching out the legs and running for form. He
showed us how our steps should be when taking off and how they should look
when you're full on. (smaller, choppy steps into long hard strides)
We broke for about 3 hours before we headed to Colonial Stadium. It is a
huge arena for footy ( a bit smaller than the MCG- it holds about 50,000).
This was our skills session.

We first did a warmup of about 15 minutes where we jogged around the oval,
high kneed a bit, did some "karaoke" shuffling, backwards running, and then
some acceleration running. Thats when you start out at 50% and gradually
over 50 meters or so go full on. After the warmup and stretching, we went
into some short kicks (15m) apart from a partner. Put it on their chests as
best you can. Use both feet if possible. We stepped back a bit and kicked
some more for about 5 minutes.

Then we broke into 2 large groups. Each large group did the same thing in
every drill. We got pads out and had to mark between 2 guys bashing you with
pads. They put it on the ground a bit and high up a bit as well as straight
into you.

That exercise was followed by another handball exercise where 4 lines criss
crossed across a square of about 30 by 30m. We shortened the distance toi
about 20 by 20, and then spread it clear out to about 50m. You are expected
to run full on through these drills. No walking or lollygagging.

Then we went into some kicking drills. Leading straight ahead and having the
opposite line kick into you. Run hard, keep the kicks low and in front. Its
very impressive how dead on these guys are! They really zip it in too!

A good kicking drill we did revolved around a triangle. We would simply lead
the guy trying to mark the ball and follow your kick to the next point on
the triangle. Rotate around the triangle and then switch directions to work
on the other foot.

These are some of the simpler drills we did. As I become more familiar with
the very complex drills, I will write them up in my coming entries. I took
in a lot and I'm not even sure how to put it all into words. Coach Sheedy -
"Sheeds" - is a tremendous speaker. He really gets these guys moving and he
loves the way the Americans are picking up the game! He spoke with me
briefly about how excited he was to be hosting an American player again.
Everyone I talk to wants to know how we Americans picked up the game and how
popular it is. Everyone has been impressed with our efforts at becoming
footballers thus far, so lets keep it up! I'll be writing again soon. I need
to go out dinner - I am tuckered out! Tomorrow will be another day filled
with footy starting at 9am. I found out today that I will be playing in a
VFL game vs. Collingwood this Friday night! I spoke with several of the #2's
and it sounds like its going to be a blast! Wish me luck and best luck to
you all as the footy season begins in the US!!



March 18, 2002

I'm very glad to say that I survived my flights and have arrived here in
Melbourne feeling pretty darn good! It was a long day of flying yesterday,
but it was definitely worth every second. It is absolutely gorgeous here.
The weather is perfect. (Mid 20's C or in the high 60's F.) I was greeted at
the airport today by Essendon's equipment manager, Ady. He was a really cool
guy with a lot of good questions for me about the US. I came back at him
with plenty of questions about Melbourne. We got along pretty well and made
arrangements for training the next day. The Bombers had the day off, so I
have yet to meet everyone. Ady wasn't the only person asking me tons of
questions. As I went through the various airports, I got lots of questions
about US Footy. People were especially interested in the Melbourne Airport
about Americans taking on the Aussie game. They were quite impressed that
the US was bringing along such a footy following!

Tomorrow, I will be track training at 9 am followed by skills practice at
2pm. I have no idea what's going to happen, but I'm looking forward to
getting it going. I am really worn down at the moment and look forward to
some good deep sleep tonight. I want to be good and rested for tomorrow when
I meet all the guys and Coach Sheedy. My roommate is an awesome guy named
Andrew and we've been getting along really well thus far. He's really
interested in seeing what I get to go through. I'll be sure to keep you all
posted as my adventures continue!

Until then, cheers!


March 4, 2002

This will be the first of many journal entries as I prepare to embark on the
greatest journey a footballer could ever dream of. Since my selection in
November 2001, I have been extremely busy. I have been lifting weights,
running, and trying to sharpen up my skills. I've got a lot accomplished
since I started. I'm about 12 pounds heavier, all muscle of course, and I
have fine tuned my game a bit. I am more excited than words can describe
about leaving next Sunday. I'm getting nervous. The Cincinnati Dockers, my
local club, had their first training run this past Saturday. It was about 40
degrees and raining. (Not ideal for footy practice.) Our hands were frozen
stiff by the end of the practice, but we kept up a good amount of enthusiasm
for 2 hours. We got in a lot of running and some skills work too. I cannot
wait to get over to Melbourne and practice in the sunshine where it'll be
alright to wear shorts and a t-shirt. I've been doing a lot of running on my
own to try to get myself into good shape. I hear these guys are just
amazingly fit, so I've had to push myself hard in the off-season. Its been
worth it and now it's just a matter of time. School is almost out and my
bags are already almost packed. I'll let everyone know what I'm up to before
I take off next weekend.

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