Dan Ross' World Univ. Games Journal
Aug. 28, 2017


Purdue men's swimming & diving head coach Dan Ross authored a World University Games journal for PurdueSports.com and the Lafayette Journal & Courier's JConline.com. It featured stories and news about all the Boilermakers in Taipei, Taiwan. This was his third World University Games after also traveling to Thailand in 2007 and South Korea in 2015. Purdue's dean of head coaches is a very experienced world traveler. Read the entries bottom to top for a chronological recap of Dan's experience.

Monday, Aug. 28 - All Times Local in Taipei
• 8 a.m. - Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, my last one in Silk Road. So good!
• 11:15 a.m. - Meet-up in the lobby for ticket distribution for the semifinal basketball game vs. Serbia and this group picture.

• Noon - Andy and I check out of the hotel. After storing our bags, we make the hot and humid walk to Taipei Arena one more time for our 20th event of the Games.
• 12:30 p.m. - After three minutes it was apparent Serbia was drained from its double-OT game, which doubled as the late game Sunday. Sure seemed like they had no legs and the USA cruised to victory. Credit to Purdue for still playing hard for all 40 minutes. The impressive victory earned our guys a berth in the gold medal game vs. Lithuania!
• 2:45 p.m. - Lunch in the hotel.
• 3:30 p.m. - Taxi to the TPE airport. By 5 p.m., we had made it through check-in, security and the passport check.
• 7:50 p.m. - EVA Air flight No. 56 non-stop to Chicago. We should arrive back in West Lafayette at approximately 1:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

Noteworthy
• We sat with Sasha Stefanovic's father during the semifinal win. Sasha has dual citizenship and Serbia wanted him to compete for them in Taipei. We're glad he didn't, opting to stay with his team now - Purdue and the USA. To see Sasha hug the Serbian coach after the game, and the conversation with Sasha's parents that followed, showed me how that coach loves Sasha and all his players.
• Bummed I won't be at the gold medal game, but I trust our loyal booster group and Tim Bertsch will be there to get the job done. And of course Matt and his team will take care of things on the court!
• At the end of the semifinal game, the public address announcer wished Matt Painter a happy birthday and the crowd sang "happy birthday" to him. It was a very cool moment. Matt waved and the crowd loved it!
• So impressed with our basketball skeleton crew here in Taipei - the players, coaches, trainer Chad Young. SID Chris Forman plus Kylann Scheidt for media coverage, and that's it. USA basketball has to be thrilled with the Purdue Nation!
• Senior associate AD Nancy Cross! Very, very helpful during our experience. Enough said!
• Divers Emily Meaney and Joe Cifelli along with swimmer Kaersten Meitz - congrats on representing Purdue, Australia and the USA tremendously well. Thanks to Andy Ross for accompanying me and to Elliot Bloom for putting our basketball bid together to represent the USA!

• Set your alarms, Purdue play at 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday. We're told the live streaming is working here.

Dan Ross Out!

Sunday, Aug. 27 - All Times Local in Taipei
• There were no morning events on the agenda so I took it easy after it was kind of a late Saturday night, including the final swimming session. Sunday brunch at the hotel served as lunch. Oh my goodness what a spread.

• 9:50 a.m. - Kaersten Meitz and Joey Cifelli flew home via United. First stop, San Francisco. They're not quite there yet as I type this Sunday night in Taipei.
• 2 p.m. - Ticket distribution for Purdue basketball's quarterfinal game, which was a 3 p.m. tipoff vs. Israel. Holy cow what a great game! I believe the only reason we won was because our seniors are "battle tested," Elliot Bloom's apt description of the group. Israel played very hard for 40 minutes and is to be commended. Interestingly, all four quarterfinal games were either two-point affairs or went to overtime. So the FISU organizers had to be pumped at the competitive level of basketball on display. Taipei being a basketball crazed place ate it up!!
• 7:45 p.m. - John Klinge's flight departed Taipei for Chicago-O'Hare

• I had dinner with Taipei local Kathy Pettinger at Ding Tai Fung. It's a very popular local spot famous for soup dumplings, traditional dumplings, noodles, etc. So right in my wheel house. Sorry, no pics. It was too good to stop and take my phone out 😁 but definitely 👍!
• The highlight of my night was a video chat with Kathy's dad (and my mentor) Jack Pettinger from Taipei to his home in Madison, Wisconsin. Jack has Alzheimer's, but we had a great talk and laughed and laughed tonight!

• Monday, Andy and I will attend our 20th World University Games event. It's a men's basketball semifinal game vs. Serbia. Then we head to the airport and fly home.

Observations
• Since it's hot and humid as well as crowded, the Taiwanese tend to eat out much more often than Americans.
• I can't say this enough. Taipei is a friendly city with a vastly improved infrastructure over the last 30 years. They love sports and welcome visitors. As one Maryland women's basketball staff member put it "they believe as a culture that there is no 'it's not my job' mentality." Everyone we met helped us even when it wasn't their job and was genuinely kind!
• There's a large Purdue Alumni base here. If you care to make a visit, just ask the Purdue Alumni Association and I'm confident the PAA will set you up!
• These Games are pure sport and about sportsmanship. It's very refreshing.
• I had a blast, but in less than 24 hours I will be heading home. Excited to see these guys back at Purdue and ready to get after it!!

#BoilerUp

Saturday, Aug. 26 - All Times Local in Taipei
• 6:30 a.m. - Breakfast
• 7:30 a.m. - Depart for the pool. When we arrived shortly before 8 a.m., we were greeted by a line out the door for tickets. It took nearly an hour to purchase tickets (shortly before they sold out), pass through security and find our seats.
• 9:30 a.m. - Watched Kaersten Meitz take fourth in the prelims of the 400-meter freestyle. Great job by the #WisconsinGirl!
• 10:30 a.m. - Kaersten was whisked away after her warm down swim and massage to the athletes' village to rest for the 400 final at 8 o'clock.
• 12:30 p.m. - John, Andy and I visited mala hot pot for lunch. "My new favorite meal of trip" Andy and John declared. (Video on my Instagram)
• 7 p.m. - We got seats after being greeted by a line around the building, and waiting in said line for 20 minutes. It moved fast, actually.
• 8 p.m. - Kaersten battles to fifth place in the 400 free final, finishing just one second out of earning a medal.
• 10:30 p.m. - Made it back to the Westin after John had an opportunity to speak with Kaersten and Andy wrapped up his Swimming World interviews.
• 11:45 p.m. - Goodnight

Noteworthy
• Diving is done and swimming events are complete. But men's basketball starts the medal rounds Sunday at 3 p.m. at Taipei Arena. We will be there for the USA vs. Israel!!
• Check out a night time pic of Kaersten's Taipei fan club.
• Check out the video of USA Basketball stopping by a school after they posted a sign of their 3 favorite American players.
• Did I tell you how special Taipei is? Even Andy got into the act with a picture request from the locals.

Friday, Aug. 25 - All Times Local in Taipei
• Taipei beat me up Thursday. After the heat, humidity and 30-minute terrifying taxi rides, I collapsed Thursday night and slept until 9:45 a.m. That's pretty late for a swim coach.

• 11 a.m. - Lunch on the way to basketball; game No. 5 for our Boilermakers.
• 12:30 p.m. - USA vs. Estonia. Purdue wins again, exceeding 100 points for the fourth game in a row and winning its pool at 5-0. Their quarterfinal game is Sunday at 3 p.m. here in Taipei. For having no impact on our seeding for the medal rounds, we were LOCKED IN defensively and unselfish offensively. It was a pretty impressive performance. Now it's an off day Saturday before the medal rounds. P.J. Thompson remarked after game "now it gets real!"

• 5:30 p.m. - After laying low during another oppressively hot afternoon, it was time to head to the pool for Friday finals.
• 7 p.m. - Kaersten Meitz swims her first-ever International final and finishes eighth in the 800! Tomorrow, the event why she's here, the 400 free, commences at 9 a.m. with Kaersten in heat 6 at approximately 9:25 a.m.
• This picture was taken by Curt Meitz when Kaersten saw John Klinge for the first time this week!!

Noteworthy
• Not much sightseeing as of late, but I've been able to attend 16 live events so far. Hopefully four more to go before flying home Monday night. Sunday after basketball, I'm going with Kathy Pettinger to a non-English speaking restaurant only the locals know about. Pretty excited for that experience.
• The Taipei crowd at swimming finally got their finals swim in the men's 4x200 free relay, a first ever for the country at the World University Games. Check out the PurdueWSwm Instagram where I captured the crowd's excitement live!
• Cool Tradition: At the end of basketball games, win or lose both teams clap for the crowd to show appreciation for the support. The Taipei crowds love it!
• The Taipei crowd even gave rock star applause when a basketball official was announced as being from Chinese Taipei.
• I haven't posted much of my food exploration this week here on the blog. If you're interested in the cuisine, check out my Instagram or Facebook pages for more photos.

Thursday, Aug. 24 - All Times Local in Taipei
• 9:15 a.m. - We had a big Purdue group at prelims to watch Kaersten Meitz finish eighth in the 800 free, qualifying for a spot in the final Friday night at 7 p.m. (7 a.m. back in Indiana). As usual, I was a basket case and her going out in 4:19 didn't help. But thankfully a 4:17 back half put her into the final. It also made for a happy and confident John Klinge!

• 1:30 p.m. - Made a quick pit stop at the hotel and then it was off to Taipei Arena for the USA vs. Romania men's basketball game and its 3 p.m. tip. Only took about 90 minutes for Purdue to roll to a 120-62 victory. We have already won our pool even though there's one more game Friday vs. Estonia.
• 5:30 p.m. - Back in the taxi for a ride to the pool for the 7 p.m. finals. Watched American Ryan Held win the 100 free then shared and Uber with his parents back to the Westin! Good stuff!
• 10 p.m. - Back in my room and ready for bed.

• Noteworthy: I enjoy watching the Taipei crowd at EVERY venue just get excited to be a part of this event in their backyard! At basketball, the locals clamor at the end of a half and after the games to get autographs and mostly selfies with the teams. This has played out at swimming and diving as well, the sports I have directly witnessed. It's a special environment in Taipei for sure. They really appreciate sports in the purest form! I know I seem to talk about this each night. But I'd bet you could ask any coach or athlete and they'd say same thing. Taipei has brought out the best in each one of us during this two-week period. I just hope we go home and keep that spirit alive!

Good night!

Wednesday, Aug. 23 - All Times Local in Taipei
• 9:15 a.m. - A Loyal Purdue group taxied to the pool to watch Kaersten Meitz lead off the USA's 4x200 free relay with the team's second-fastest split, sending the Americans into the final as the top seed.

• 11:30 a.m. - Lunch: Tim Bertsch went western and I enjoyed an Asian mala hot pot.
• 4 p.m. - Emily Meaney placed 10th overall in the individual 10-meter platform final. Afterwards, she thanked us for being there just as Joey did yesterday. We have such a good group of kids!
• 6 p.m. - We made it to our basketball game midway through the second quarter. Purdue cruised past Czech Republic to improve to 3-0 in pool play.

• Noteworthy: After the win, the basketball team visited the lobby to take photos with the Purdue fans who traveled to Taipei. It was great idea, but they also got ambushed by the Taipei crowd as these huge basketball bodies wearing USA gear garnered a lot of attention. Tough on the pictures, but a lifetime memory for our guys!
• Noteworthy No. 2: Thank you in Mandarin (the Chinese spoken in Taiwan) is "shey-shey." Or more precisely, the emphasis is an "eh" sounds like A!
• Noteworthy No. 3: Kaersten swims in the 800 free prelims at approximately 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
• Noteworthy No. 4: When we chanted Go USA after the 4x200 free relay prelims, I asked Kaersten if we embarrassed her. She said "no, it was funny because they (the relay) thought you were my dad."
• Noteworthy No. 5: The exchange rate is approximately 30 Taiwanese dollars per $1 USD. My all-you-can-eat mala hot pot lunch, including ice cream, was 545 TWD or $18 USD. They give you two full hours after that "you must leave."

• 9 p.m. - Andy Ross and I split up tonight - he went to the pool to cover the events for Swimming World and I went to basketball. Andy reports from the pool that the USA's fresh 4x200 free relay team won a silver medal after just getting out touched by Russia, 7:55.28 to 7:55.32. The USA opted to go with four new swimmers for the final but Kaersten should have a silver medal to add to Emily Meaney's silver for Australia two days ago. Woohoo!

Tuesday, Aug. 22 - All Times Local in Taipei
• 7 a.m. - I was a little late getting up after a 12-hour day Monday. I met John Klinge at the Westin for a fantastic breakfast buffet - think fancy Las Vegas hotel Sunday brunch. Except here it's EVERYDAY. Yummy!
• 9:15 a.m. - Purdue's new deputy athletics director Jason Butikofer along with Nancy Cross, Andy, John and I made our way to the diving venue to link up with Tim Bertsch. Emily Meaney's individual tower competition began at 10 a.m. Joey Cifelli made a point to thank Nancy and Jason for his opportunity to compete, both for Purdue and in Taipei. Pretty class act. We thank you Joey, as well as Emily, Kaersten and all of men's basketball for making us proud Boilermakers.

• 11:15 a.m. - Emily successfully qualified for the semifinal.
• 11:30 a.m. - Lunch 😁 (common Dan Ross theme, I know)
• 2 p.m. - Emily placed 11th in the semifinal to qualify for Wednesday's 4 p.m. final. Headed back to the hotel briefly after her competition was complete.

• Today's Weather: Hot, but breeze from a tropical storm made the real feel real nice 😉.
• Topography: A mountainous circle surrounds Taipei so the city is sheltered somewhat. The East Coast of Taiwan gets battered all the time by storms and the infrastructure has to be totally rebuilt every 10 years or so. Taipei stays hot and humid, but today the winds made it inland even though there was not much rain. It felt cooler even though the real feel temperature was still 95 degrees.

Back to the Action
• Record taxi ride from the hotel to the swimming venue! It's OK as long as you don't look out the front window as the taxi driver races in and out of lanes like his name is Mario 😊 (smiley face with emphasis on eyes closed).
• 7 p.m. - Tuesday's swimming action was the eighth event of the Games we've attended, not counting the Purdue alumni reception Saturday. No Boilermakers were in action tonight, but we were cheering on the USA and there were plenty of Big Ten swimmers competing.
• Wednesday - Kaersten competes for the USA in the prelims of the 4x200 freestyle relay at 10:30 a.m. The fastest two legs of the prelims will likely join the top-two American 200 freestylers in the final. Go Meitz!! Then we we'll head back to diving at 4 p.m. for Emily in the final on tower. Back to Taipei Arena at 5:30 p.m. for Purdue basketball vs. the Czech Republic. And the final of the women's 4x200 free relay will be at approximately 8:30 p.m. Stay tuned to see how we handle that itinerary!

• We've been to three different sports and as each day goes by, Taipei crowds grow larger and noisier. The locals seem to be losing their inhibitions, really embracing the world coming to them. It's very refreshing to watch!

• 10:15 p.m. - It was another great finals session in the pool. I'm looking forward to Kaersten's first swim and John Klinge getting his first look at the competition pool.

Good night from Taipei!

Monday, Aug. 21 - All Times Local in Taipei
First of all, don't look directly into the sun on eclipse day! 😉 Thanks. Secondly, all Purdue swimmers and divers - Go To Class!! It's the only thing you can control. Thanks No. 2 👊

• 9:15 a.m. - We made our way to diving to cheer on Joey Cifelli as he competed for the USA on 1-meter. It was his first-ever international competition and he finished 18th. There is so much more this young man will accomplish in diving and beyond!

• 12:30 p.m. - Lunch: beef noodle soup Taipei style. Yummy!!

• 1:30 p.m. - Watched the second half of the Estonia-Romania basketball game. Estonia was up big all game. But with 10 seconds left, Romania tied it up. Estonia raced back the other way and took the lead again with 2 seconds remaining on a tip in. Romania's full court shot at the buzzer rimmed out. It's fun to watch other countries battle on the court.

• 3 p.m. - Purdue as the USA throttled the United Arab Emirates. Our starters played a quarter and then the backups took over and extended the lead. Boom, 2-0!

• 5 p.m. - Took a taxi to swimming and in the rush hour traffic, it was about a 50-minute ride.

• 7 p.m. - Watched Monday's swimming finals and then took a taxi back to our hotel. In my room by 10 p.m.

Notables...
• Watching Taipei children embrace these games is priceless!
• Taiwanese culture before events is very social to watch.
Emily Meaney was a last-minute entry for the synchronized tower event. Then she goes and wins a SILVER MEDAL for Australia!! Way to be Emily!
• I salute Tim Bertsch, who spent nine hours at dive pool today.
John Klinge arrives Tuesday at 4:30 a.m.
• Emily competes again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, diving individually on tower.
Kaersten Meitz will be on the USA's 800 free relay team for the prelims on Wednesday.

Dan Ross Out!

Sunday, Aug. 20 - All Times Local to Taipei
• 9:30 a.m. - We found swimming's competition pool on a dry run 😁 - there and back for the prelims this morning even though no Boilermakers swam. Andy met his freshman year college roommate at Southern Illinois, who is studying Mandarin in Taiwan this summer, for a lunch. Sushi and then a Taipei specialty, mango ice! I, on other hand, took a shower. 😓

• 2:30 p.m. - The highlight today was the unexpected unbelievable crowd of Taipei residents and families that graduated from Purdue for a reception at the Westin before our basketball game! What a loyal bunch of Boilermakers. Once they found our divers and a swimmer were also competing this week, many promised to attend those events as well. One little girl came up to me and said "my mom promised to take me to see Kaersten later this week." How cute was that! The retired head of FBI Taipei and many "former ministers of something" here in Taipei made up the majority of our alumni in attendance. It was a very fun event and I haven't even mentioned the food. Oh my GOSH it was so good!

• 8 p.m. - We won the game vs. Argentina so a successful day it was. Joe Cifelli competes Monday on 1-meter for the USA. Basketball also plays again, taking on the United Arab Emirates.

Saturday, Aug. 19 at 11 p.m.
I just got back from the opening ceremonies and definitely needed a shower after five hours out in 100-degree real feel temps. Ahhh! The parade of nations started out smoothly until there was a disruption after Brazil entered the stadium. Oddly, no one followed the Brazilians. Finally, flag bearers started to parade in one by one. We later learned a riot had flared up outside the stadium, to the point where they wouldn't allow teams to parade any longer. After all flags were inside, they just let all the athletes march in without a flag bearer. Eventually they all made it in except Taipei, which had the honor of being the last to enter. The place erupted for their entrance.

Our basketball team stuck out from where I was seated across the stadium. With Isaac Haas leading the way, they were hard to miss. I spotted Emily Meany with Australia, too. I couldn't find Joey Cifelli among all the athletes unfortunately. All the swimmers stayed in and didn't parade as swimming events start Sunday at 9 a.m. here in Taipei.

For lunch, my son Andy and I opted for Addiction Aquatic Development, a fish market/stand up restaurant. It was fantastic. Thank you to former Purdue Diving team manager Tim Lu for another excellent recommendation. The USA's first basketball game is tomorrow and we are so ready to cheer them on! Go USA!

Friday, Aug. 18 - All Times Local in Taipei
• 9:30 a.m. - Frustrating start to the day as we tried and failed our first time to find the correct competition pool for the swimming events. But Tim Bertsch showed us the way to diving's location. We'll resume our search tomorrow or else I will ask for help, but what fun is that?!?! The festivities begin Saturday night with a bunch of Boilermakers at the Opening Ceremonies! Real feel temperatures are forecasted to be in the 100s all night so actually I'm not sure how many of our athletes will march, especially if they're competing Sunday. Our small but loud crew will be cheering on Purdue as USA Basketball in its first official game Sunday.

• 11 a.m. - My son Andy and I ventured to Taipei 101, the eighth-tallest building in the world. It was the tallest from 2004 to 2010. Takes less than 45 seconds to get to the top - Wow!!! - where there is indoor and outdoor viewing. After hanging at the top, we hit the bottom 😁 for the legendary food court. Oh my, there are many unbelievable choices. We opted for sushi - you pick and eat as choices pass by on a conveyor belt. You are charged by the number of and color of your plates at the end.

• 4:30 p.m. - The Taipei2017 app has been released. Fans can watch many events on it and there are detailed maps and addresses of venues. Where was that earlier today when I started this post.

• 8:30 p.m. - After a great dinner at Kiki's we had an interesting visit to the media center, trying to obtain Andy's Swimming World credentials. Thank goodness we had local Kathy Pettinger to help us interact with the locals and bridge the language barrier. Kathy is the daughter of Jack Pettinger, who was my mentor and the longtime head men's swim coach at the University of Wisconsin.

Woo-hoo, made it 90 minutes later than last night with no nap! Good night from Taipei. Tomorrow it begins!

Thursday, Aug. 17 at 7:15 p.m. Taipei Time
The last 24 hours have been those of adjustments. No. 1 was adjusting to the 12-hour time difference between here in Taipei and back home in Greater Lafayette. Andy and I are certainly not on our normal sleep schedules after our 15-hour flight from Chicago arrived at 4:40 a.m. Thursday. No. 2 is the adjustment to the heat and humidity. It was 95 degrees with a real feel of 113 today.

After I failed miserably with a mid-morning nap, the day 1 adrenaline kicked in and we ventured out in hopes of staying awake until nightfall. We walked to Taipei Arena where most of the men's basketball games will be played. We also visited the stadium, where the sold out "toughest ticket in town" Opening Ceremonies will take place Friday morning.

A few Boilermakers showed up today and more are coming tomorrow, so the train is rolling into town!

Thursday Meals
• Breakfast: Noodle soup with clams, veggies
• Lunch: Ramen
• Dinner: Quiet meal in our hotel & then to bed by 7 p.m. after that day 1 adrenaline was long gone

Friday: We're going to scout out the swimming and diving venues, which are different. We'll also be in search of basketball practice. Also on the to-do list is finding the Din Tai Fung restaurant, famous for its world-renowned soup dumplings. Those were highly recommended by Tim Lu, a former Purdue Diving team manager.

Tuesday, Aug. 15 at 11 p.m. ET
Greetings to everyone in Tippecanoe County and Boilermaker Nation. Dan Ross here -- the swimming coach, not the golf pro -- reporting for duty for day 1 of my World University Games journal. My son Andy Ross and I are getting ready to fly to Taipei to cheer on Purdue Basketball as Team USA as well as our student-athletes Kaersten Meitz, Joe Cifelli and Emily Meaney competing in the swimming & diving events at the World University Games.

We are also planning to see Taipei when not at the Games. I live to eat, so stinky tofu shall be enjoyed along with other night market goodies. Hopefully some high-end eats once or twice as well. Temperatures this week will be in the high-90s, with a real feel of 108-118 degrees. So it will be hot hot hot. Our flight tonight is 15 hours non-stop from Chicago to Taipei where we arrive at 4:30 a.m. local time, 48 hours after our basketball team landed ahead of us.

Tim Bertsch, Purdue diving's operations supervisor and video specialist, is also in Taipei and will make guest appearances in our journal updates. My colleague John Klinge will do likewise when he arrives next week in advance of Kaersten's events.

If you're a Boilermaker fan, stay tuned. And if you're just a travel fan, stay tuned too! I invite you to follow Purdue Basketball on Twitter and Instagram (@BoilerBall) as well as Purdue Women's Swimming on Instagram (@PurdueWSwim). My Twitter (@CoachDanRoss) and Instagram (@RossDP1977) accounts will also feature content from the WUG during our trip. The next update will be from Taipei. Good night and Boiler Up!!


 

 

@PurdueWSwim

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