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2011 ParaPanAm Games

Soldan, Kaiser Blog From ParaPanAm Games in Mexico

November 11, 2011 09:42 AM
Mackenzie Soldan gears up a big serve, awaiting the first day of ParaPanAm competition in Mexico.
Emmy Kaiser has ratcheted up her training in 2012 in preparation for a Paralympic run in London.
By Mackenzie Soldan and Emmy Kaiser, special to USTA.com

From the 2011 Parapan American Games, top women’s players Mackenzie Soldan and Emmy Kaiser are blogging their thoughts and experiences from the event site in Guadalajara, Mexico, exclusive to USTA.com. Hear what the these two Americans have to say on their way to a gold medal!
 
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Our United States Wheelchair Tennis Team started their journey to the Parapan American Games on Tuesday by heading to Houston. Once we got to Houston, there were USOC staff and volunteers holding the doors open, welcoming us to Houston from the USOC. The entire US crew - from tennis, swimming, bocce, and goal ball - went through processing with the USOC getting our clothes and gear. Our group went into a huge room where you could see stacks of Nike shoe boxes up to the ceiling. They gave us a roller bag filled with clothes to try on and off we went into the make-shift dressing rooms. Once we tried on all the clothes and got all of our right sizes, we got to pick out a pair of sunglasses and then it was out the door. Neither of us on the women’s team has ever really been to a competition of this size and magnitude before, so it was all a bit overwhelming as we realized how big these Games are actually going to be.

So anyway, we departed from Houston at 6:00 a.m., and after a semi-long day of travel, we finally arrived in Mexico! We all filed into a few buses and were escorted by the Mexican police all the way to the Parapan Games’ compound, which was about an hour drive into Guadalajara. Once we pulled onto the road that led to the fenced-in area in which all of the apartments and mini-city (Starbucks, our dining hall, etc.) are located, you could see in the surrounding fields the occasional policeman holding a machine gun - which we have to say is quite intimidating. Once off the bus, it was off to the Village Dorms to get all settled in our rooms. The layout is composed of 4 cot-like beds, 4 cabinets, a table and chair, and a bathroom. We don’t get air conditioning or heating, so it gets pretty hot during the day and a little chilly at night.

After getting everything into our rooms, we went to a welcoming ceremony for the members of the U.S. team that arrived that day. Mackenzie got to see all of her friends on the U.S. basketball team, which was really cool since she usually doesn’t see her basketball friends when she is with her tennis team. Since she has only been to solely tennis tournaments or solely basketball events in the past, it makes this competition extra cool. Having this wide of a variety of people and sports all in one place is like nothing we have ever experienced!
 
Back to the ceremony: There were an assortment of speeches by the main organizers of the Games and gifts were exchanged and such. Then they brought on stage some Mexican dancers to perform for us. It was very interesting to see their style of dance, and it made us realize even more just how different this culture is than ours back in the States.  When the ceremony was all over, we had some dinner at the dining hall and went to bed early after a long exciting day.

We are so excited to be here at such a great event and can’t wait to see what else is in store! Go USA!

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