There’s plenty of soccer to be played, pins to be traded and memories to be made at this week’s Schwan’s USA CUP, but one particular memory always seems to stick out above the rest, leaving a lasting impression on players and fans: Opening Ceremonies.
A team from Colombia proudly parades into the stadium during 2016 Opening Ceremonies
Tuesday’s ceremonies promise to be no different, and an exciting night stacked with adrenaline pumping activities is on the agenda. Kicking off the evening will be the winners of this year’s Sons of Norway Founders Award, given to longtime volunteers and staff for their hard work and dedication to the tournament.
This year’s winners are Dan Bauman and Forster Davis, two referees who have been officiating games at USA CUP since the tournament began 33 years ago.
Hundreds of games between Bauman and Davis boils down to just one word for both of them: fun.
“My wife says I have to do so many games per week or do the treadmill, and I hate the treadmill,” Davis laughed. “It’s just fun to do. Otherwise, what the heck? Why do it?”
“I think I’ve worked with a referee from every country that’s been here,” Bauman said. “I just have fun at it.”
A highlight of Opening Ceremonies is always the parade of teams, where every country represented at USA CUP will march through the stadium, the only time that everyone in the tournament will be united in one place.
“It’s an opportunity for kids from all over the world to really get together,” USA CUP marketing director Rob Lodge said. “Everyone is here at USA CUP, but it’s an opportunity for them to really interact in a big group.”
Leading the parade will be the Lakeshore United FC U15 girls team from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, who are this year’s Schwan’s Cares About Soccer sweepstakes winners. The team received free entry into this year’s tournament for raising over $500 through their Schwan’s Cares fundraiser.
Players at last year’s Opening Ceremonies enjoy the action down on the field.
A couple of new features to this year’s Opening Ceremonies are sure to make it our biggest and best year yet. A highlight will be the U.S. Navy Leap Frogs parachute team, who will be making a dramatic descent into the stadium.
“We are going to have a big presence from the United States Navy,” Lodge said. “These are live Navy Seals that have actually seen action and are really tough guys.”
Fans in the stands will be up close and personal like they never have been before. A giant television screen will be streaming action live from the field throughout the ceremonies, giving spectators a taste of the atmosphere down on the ground.
Once the caldron is lit and the fireworks explode, signifying the official beginning of USA CUP 2017, the real fun begins. DJ Mad Mardigan of the Minnesota Timberwolves will once again be entertaining the crowd for the annual Rock the CUP concert, which has come to be a staple of the evening.
“The atmosphere is really high energy,” Lodge said. “There is so much smiling and cheering and high fiving and interacting between international cultures. It’s a super high energy environment and you can absolutely feel it if you’re out in the crowd.”
Between the parade of teams, U.S. Navy sky divers and pumping after party, one thing is for sure – 2017 Opening Ceremonies is something you don’t want to miss.
Tag(s): July 17, 2017