WESTMINSTER — "The Green Terrors are coming! The Green Terrors are coming!"
Final preparations are being made for the historic trip that will make the Western Maryland College football squad the first U.S. college grid team ever to play in Russia.
"Going to Russia and being a part of history is a great honor forWestern Maryland College and our football program," said coach Dale Sprague, whose Green Terrors return today from a January break.
"It's a great opportunity, and we're excited about sharing American football with our Russian allies. We'll also be going as diplomats representing the United States."
The one-week trip begins March 13 witha group of 65 (47 players, three coaches, two physicians, a manager and the rest family and friends) heading to Moscow. Individuals pay their own way (about $1,800 per person) with fund-raising efforts under way to cover most of the costs.
"Everything is moving along right on schedule," said assistant coach Mike Hamm, who is coordinating the event along with the International Sports Connection.
"It's a neat time to be over there with all the changes taking place," Hamm said. "Some say it's quite a culture shock, and it will make us appreciate what we have here."
Culture shock? Just ask Johns Hopkins University baseball coach Bob Baab, who took his club to Moscow for a 10-day visit in 1988.
"The thing that struck me most was, here you have a superpower country living like a Third World country," Baab said. "The living conditions were very tough.
"It was a great experience. The people are very friendly and pro-American. Once they learned you were American, they really went out of their way to make you feelcomfortable."
His team plans to return to Moscow this summer to play in an international tournament.
"They are very fascinated withbaseball, and I'm sure it will be the same with football," Baab said.
Baab had some suggestions for the Western Maryland travelers.
"It really doesn't pay to bring a lot of money; the best thing to dois bring a lot of things to trade," he said.
"The quality of foodis very poor. There is very little fresh fruit and vegetables, so it's good to bring as much food as you can -- I brought peanut butter and crackers and stuff like that."
Let us not forget the reason theTerrors are going -- to play football.
The Green will have four joint practices with its Russian counterparts during the week leading up to the March 19 game.
Sprague learned the team they originally were supposed to face, the Moscow Bears, no longer exists. WMC now isscheduled to play a Russian all-star team.
"I've talked to the officials who will be officiating the game (three men from Great Britain and one American)," he said. "They've all seen this team play and gave me mixed reviews.
Hamm summed it up best:
"We're just looking forward to seeing a different side of life and playing some springfootball."