Before the scrimmage, the Mystics held a regular team practice that was already in progress when we arrived an hour before the scrimmage.
And just to tire themselves out a bit more, the Mystics held an intense scrimmage against their male practice players for most of the hour while we watched. Practically all of Washington's players were already dripping with sweat before the Poles even arrived at the gym.
The Mystics received their pre-scrimmage instructions from Coach Plank, and were introduced by an announcer who had a bit of trouble with their names . . . not to mention his microphone. After struggling with the Mystics' names, he didn't even attempt to pronounce the names of the Polish players. (Fortunately, we had been given a roster at the door, so we could easily identify the members of the Polish Team without the introductions.)
The Poles had a huddle of their own, which was crashed by Mystic Ewilina Kobryn, who ran full tilt across the court to join her countrywomen in a group hug before the huddle broke up. Ewilina may not be in focus, but the smiles of her Polish friends clearly are.
This being Washington, an enthusiastic group of a couple of dozen Polish embassy staff and their families were on hand, cheering loudly and and yelling "Polska" for much of the game. (Trust us . . . they really were enthusiastic. This photo just happened to catch them practicing their old Soviet-bloc stares.)
The Polish delegation even brought their flag . . . and young flag-bearers. Plus, we learned something new tonight. (Who says you can't teach an old BasketCase a new fact?) See that coat of arms in the flag above? Well, it was missing from the picture of the Polish flag on the team roster that the Mystics distributed prior to the scrimmage. Could this be an embarrassing international incident in the making? Fortunately, BC Judith was able to whip out her iPhone and learn from a Wikipedia search that the Polish national flag does not have a coat of arms; however, a variant of that flag, with the coat of arms, is "legally reserved for official use abroad and at sea." St. John's College High School definitely qualifies as "abroad," so, indeed, the embassy staff were waving the right flag! Mystics scrimmages aren't just fun, they're also educational.
These adorable young fans from the embassy contingent held up this banner (POLSKA) -- backwards -- all game long. We're sure there's a Polish joke in here somewhere . . .
During one of the breaks, Marissa Coleman, who graduated from St. John's back in 2005, was finally honored for being the school's all-time leading scorer and leader in approximately a zillion other categories. (Better late than never!) Marissa, in turn, presented the school with one of her Mystics jerseys.
Despite the fact that the Mystics spotted them an entire practice, the Poles were no match for Washington. The first 10-minute period (when the Polish Team was still fresh) was close. The next two 10-minute
And speaking of AB, Alana wheeled herself into the gym using a knee-scooter that keeps her big-booted ankle non-weightbearing and off the ground. She may not be able to play this season, but she's still very committed to the Mystics and is showing her support however she can. We really like that about her.
The 10 players who make the final cut will be boarding a flight around 4 PM on Friday to head to Indy for their season-opener the following day against the Fever. No more scrimmages, no more pre-season games, on Saturday it all begins for real.
Photo Credits: DC BasketCases