Czechs & Sports

Czechs embrace sports for fun & medals

By Emma Palova
EW Emmas Writings Journal

Since I am living an international life with most of the family embedded in the USA, while the rest is scattered in France and Czech Republic, the Sochi Olympic Games,  embody a true spirit of cooperation high above their competing foundation.
“Who do you root for?” a cashier once asked me at a local grocery store after he detected a slight accent.
Most of our family members, except for our son Jake, have a recognizable accent, some more than others. Often that becomes the center of all jokes. It can be anywhere from amusing to annoying.
“Well of course I go for the best one,” I laughed. “I don’t care about the nationality.”
The Czechs both in the old country and expatriates around the world have a great passion for sports. That is for medals, trophies, but most of all for fun.
Apart from hockey, Czechs became known for their figure skating legends Ondrej Nepela and Hana Maskova, who won bronze medal behind Peggy Fleming of the United States in the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. She was the only Czech woman to win an Olympic medal in figure skating.
Slovak Ondrej Nepela won the 1972 gold medal in men’s figure skating at the Olympics in Sapporo. His fellow countryman Jozef Sabovcik won the bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, at a time when the country was still intact as Czechoslovakia.

Ondrej Nepela
Ondrej Nepela

In my memoir “Greenwich Meridian where East meets West,” I write about the family and the country’s involvement in sports, both amateur and professional.
My dad Vaclav Konecny, former Ferris State University professor, won several swimming competitions during his studies at the University of Jana Evangelisty Purkyne in Brno. Dad taught me how to swim at an early age, and ever since swimming has become my favorite sport, if only for fun. Each year, during my March writing retreat in Venice, Florida, I swim with the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
But, other than swimming, I haven’t been endowed in sports unlike my husband Ludek Pala and my children Dr. Emma & Jake. I tinkered around a bit with softball and basketball at the Hawkins Junior High School, TX in the seventies. Ludek played soccer on a team in Stipa, Czechoslovakia and coached soccer for the YMCA & Lowell Area Schools, Michigan in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Jake was on his soccer team. Daughter Emma wanted to be a figure skater, but she didn’t have enough drive, practice or coaching. Maybe it was just something on a whim like little girls who want to be ballerinas. Although as always Emma seemed pretty determined.
When Ludek built a skating rink 50 by 60 feet on a tarp one foot deep complete with barriers in our garden around the year 2000, my hopes were high up that Jake would some day be on the élite Czech Olympic hockey team or on NHL along with Alexander Ovechkin.

Jake Pala
Jake Pala

At the time, Jake was a student at the Lowell High School. He skated strategically well under Ludek’s training, but he didn’t take it any further. He was growing into his teens and had other interests.
“I did it for fun,” said Jake, regional distributor for Faygo.”It was phenomenal as a hobby. I used dad’s ice rink to the max.”
For Jake sports have always been a good motivator and a springboard into real life, but he never considered becoming a professional. He practiced hockey with his puck up to three hours a day. Quite often neighbor Bailey Haefner would join him for a friendly match.
“I started being really good at it” Jake said. “It came at a great time. I miss it and I’d like to perfect the skill.”
So, the hockey rink became sort of a neighborhood skating plaza for all. Winters were alsmost as hard as the winter of 2014, so it held up for months.
“I’ve always wanted to have a skating rink in my backyard,” said Ludek.
Ludek, an innovator in every sense, is very project oriented. He took the time to gather the scrap wood boards and
numbered them to create the barriers around the perimeter of the rink. He put tarp on the bottom and maintained the
surface on daily basis to keep it smooth for skating.
I don’t think I’ve ever skated on it. Then one year in February the rink melted and turned into a large puddle. Moreover, the neighborhood kids were growing up just like Jake did, so Ludek stopped building the ice rink. I asked him to build a covered swimming pool instead, but that hasn’t happened yet.

To be continued with “All my skiers.”

Copyright (c) 2014 story and photo by Emma Palova, other photos courtesy of Wikipedia, Internet


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Czech Superbowl & Olympiad special

Czechs go wild over games & events

This is what true Czechs& CzechAmericans would treat themselves to while watching the Superbowl and the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, or any other event for that matter.

The game spread would definitely include several six packs of Czechvar, the export trademark of the real Budweiser (watch for an upcoming story about the stolen trademark from its origins in Czech Budejovice), plum brandy known as slivovice, sweet & sour pickles, salami and kielbasa and a loaf of good sourdough bread.

Pictured in the photo is a Stein depicting the capital Prague, a flask of plum brandy, home-made pickles canned on our country ranch, wishing it was Hungarian salami and locally purchased at Ric’s six-pack of Czechvar crisp as horse radish.

Watch for my post Czechs & Sports in honor of the Olympic Games in Sochi

Copyright (c) 2014  story and photo by Emma Palova


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Czech passion for hockey

Czech hockey: A national pastime

By EMMA PALOVA

As we draw closer to the Olympiad in Russian Sochi, I keep thinking about Czech hockey. Although the Czech hockey team is not among the top three medal contenders, Canada, USA and Russia, the team has been dubbed as the best among the rest along with Finland.

The Czech hockey team won their dream “Tournament of the Century” that is the gold medal in Nagano 1998 and bronze in 2006
in Torino, Italy. The New Jersey Devils veterans Jaromir Jagr and Patrick Elias may give the Czechs a shot this time
around, according to the Bleacher Report.
“I bet the first line is Jagr, Krejci and Voracek because of 68’s familiarity with both of them,” wrote Tom Urtz Jr.
Jim Dance also commented on Bleach Reporter:
“Hudler leads his NHL team in scoring by 14pts,Vrbata is tied for the lead on his NHL team. I think there’s some back door
BS going on here.I mean really? Granted Jagr is having a great year,but a little too much nostalgia for me.”
“It’s all nostalgia for me,” I wrote.

Jaromir Jagr of New Jersey Devils
Jaromir Jagr of New Jersey Devils

In the old communist Czechoslovakia governed by Soviet politics, hockey was all political. Every year, the two best hockey
teams in the world, Czechs and the Soviets, were pitched against each other. The ice arena became the real political
platform and battlefield.
What could not transpire in real life, happened on ice. The two teams would beat each other to death physically with
their hockey sticks pushing each other against the mantinels. Hockey was the only way the Czechs could show their
opposition against the Soviet occupation.
“Beat them,” I could hear from the windows as I walked to the only grocery store in the 30,000-apartment
complex known as Southern Slopes in hometown Zlin.
The shouts repeated themselves as I continued to walk with a classical nasty grocery bag. Little did I know that this
classical grocery bag would make its grand appearance on the American market stage three decades later.
“Who won,” I asked breathless as I walked into the living room where everyone was sitting around the TV.
The silence was not good.
“Well?”
“The Russians did,” sighed my grandpa Joseph taking a gulp from a bottle.
“Are they better than us?” I asked naïvely holding a bag full of groceries.
That question continues to linger on even into the new millennium. Sometimes the Russians won, sometimes the Czechs did.
Experts would say,”Oh the Czechs played a defensive game,but the Russians played an offensive game.”
I never quite came to a resolution over this. The fact of the matter was, that we hated the Russians because they occupied
our country in 1968 with tanks. Hate may have tainted our judgment.
“You didn’t watch the hockey game?” asked a guy at the bus stop another guy. “You’re a traitor.”
Yeah, the passions ran high when it came to playing the Russians. Then in 1989 with the fall of communism in Velvet
Revolution, a lot of that passion was lost.

Winning Czech hockey team in Nagano 1998
Winning Czech hockey team in Nagano 1998

One year before the Olympics, I was getting groceries here in US at the Meijer store and the cashier asked me:
“Where is that accent from?”
“It’s Czech,” I said.
“Great hockey team,” he said. “Who do you root for?”
“Of course, for the Czech team,” I laughed.

The Czech hockey has been immortalized by retired goaltender Dominik Hašek. In his 16-season National Hockey League (NHL)
career, he played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings and the Ottawa Senators. During his years
in Buffalo, he became one of the league’s finest goaltenders, earning him the nickname “The Dominator”. His strong play
has been credited with establishing European goaltenders in a league previously dominated by North Americans.
Hašek is regarded as a future Hall of Famer by those in the hockey world.
The current Jaromir Jagr is one of a small group of hockey players to have won the Stanley Cup (1991, 1992), the Ice
Hockey World Championships (2005, 2010), and the Olympic gold medal in ice hockey (1998). This is known as the Triple Gold
Club, and Jágr is one of only two Czech players (the other being Jiří Šlégr) in the Triple Gold Club, the 15th player to
complete it out of 25 total, as of June 2011.
So, the fame of Czech hockey continues with or without the Russians.
Go Czechs go, win Sochi 2014.

Copyright (c) 2014 story by Emma Palova, photos Internet and Wikipedia


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Great Expectations 2014

Looking ahead to 2014

By EMMA PALOVA

EW Emmas Writings journal

I am looking forward to 2014 in spite of its rocky & freezing start. My goals include exponential growth of followers of my online journal. I plan on diversifying the content with other writers’ and bloggers’ work.

So far, it has been a one –woman show as far as articles, photography and design.

I am using this opportunity to invite other writers and artists to display their work in my journal. I would like to add fiction and poetry. I am a firm believer in creative partnerships.I want to add more advertising, both  local and national, as well as a store page in an effort to monetize the site. And tie everything close with social media.

I am also happy about completing career profiles on Google+ and Elance in search of freelance work.

blog me profile
Emma Palova

I will continue writing the memoir “Greenwich Meridian” which is the principal reason behind the journal. The family immigration saga is evolving as we speak and taking its own course.

My parents Ella&Vaclav Konecny, who started the saga in mid 60s are spending the winters in Venice,Fl. Dad will be celebrating his 80th birthday this July. My daughter Emma appears to be staying in France for a while. My brother Vas lives in Paris, Michigan and my son Jake lives in Kalamazoo.

I am targeting the book for next year’s publication before Mother’s Day since it is dedicated to mom. I am aiming for traditional publication as of right now.

I also have plenty of short stories awaiting publication collected in “Glass Flowers” anthology. I wrote most of these when I was working at the Meijer store in the nineties in Grand Rapids.

So, it will be a busy new year. I celebrated my one-year anniversary with WordPress on Jan.15. Looking forward to another one.

Windows 8 & Winter UP North

image

I am learning Windows 8 & shaking sickness, flu of the North. I am ready to move down South. I am thinking about Alabama, New Mexico or Silicon Valley. It’s been rough up here this winter in Michigan. We’re totally snowed & frozen  in. Life is too short to live it in a freezer. Of course as I write this I am crying. We raised two kids here, two dogs and three sets of Japanese koi fish and we had the best time in our lives up North, but as I wrote in one of my short stories “Tonight on Main”…..the old has settled in. It’s time to move on.

Copyright (c) 2014 story and photo by Emma Palova

Favorite photo 2013

New Year’s Eve photo attracts most attention

By Emma Palova

EW Emmas Writings Journal

The most liked photo from all of my posts combined on WordPress, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram in 2013 was the one I took of St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell, Michigan on a stormy New Year’s Eve. We were coming back from a dinner down Gavin Lake Road and I noticed the laser-like quality of the flood lights on the steeple of the church that is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year.

“We have to turn around, I got to get this photo,” I said to my husband.

The church stands like a lonely sentinel amid farms and fields in the northern east part of Kent County. It is a landmark for both the parishioners and travelers who pass by.

St. Patrick's Church in Parnell, MI
St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell, MI

It was built in 1844 by Irish pioneers braving the new lands, according to Saint Patrick’s Parish history book published in 1996. I’ve written many times about this church, its preservation efforts and movement ahead with times.
Happy and successful 2014.

Copyright (c) 2013 story and photo by Emma Palova

Moments in time 2013- continued

Last year brings in productivity, new additions

By Emma Palova

EW Emmas Writings Journal

We always do most of the canning and pickling in August during the Lowell Kent County Youth Fair and beyond. We made more than 100 jars of dill pickles in all formats; spears, slices and whole. It is a family recipe. The pickles are sweet and sour. We also make our own marinara sauces and salsa.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s fun,” says my husband Ludek.

In August, we're in a pickle. We do all the canning.
In August, we’re in a pickle. We do all the canning.

In August, I started a WordPress blog for my sister-in-law Jarmila. She has a baking business in Stipa, Czech Republic. The blog is CJ Aunt Jarmilkas Desserts at http://jkarmaskova.wordpress.com.

As summer 2013 turned into fall, I traveled to Europe for my big trip covering four countries: France, Czech Republic, Spain and Switzerland. I was out of the USA for five weeks staying in different towns and resorts. I was most impressed by Brno in Czech Republic and the wine village Gevrey-Chambertin in the heart of Burgundy.  The trip to Geneva happened by a chance because we were headed to Lausanne with my doctor daughter Emma instead.

“It was totally echec style,” Emma said.

I had to look up the meaning of echec several times. It means checkmate in chess. For a story on Geneva, Switzerland go to my post from Oct. 21.

In October, I experienced a major wine harvest in Gevrey-Chambertin delayed by at least three weeks, but with the best crop ever, according to the winemaker.

Old town Geneva echec style.
Old town Geneva echec style.

It was still sunny and warm when I got back to Michigan by mid-October.

A big moment in time came after a sleepless week in November. My sons’s baby Josephine Marie Palova was born on Nov. 21 on a cloudy morning. We stormed into the birthing center at Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo equipped with phones, devices and gadgets to take hundreds of photos.

“Mom, this is the only time you go to the hospital happy,” said Emma.

Josephine is the fourth generation Czech-American born into the family whose members fully speak both languages, Czech and English.

Maranda and Josephine Marie Palova.
Maranda and Josephine Marie Palova.

And lastly to close the year in December, my brother Vas and I experienced the beauty and intricacies of social media, games and such as we played with some designs. We designed a game during the Christmas chaos. It was a relief to get a message from old country Czech Republic.

“Your cousin Olin is a grandpa,” we got the notification via facebook.

“Congratulations from Emma & Vas.”

Happy New Year 2014 from our family to yours.
Happy New Year 2014 from our family to yours.

Have an awesome 2014 and watch for a story on Great Expectations 2014 and inspiring people of the Lowell area.

Copyright © 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova

Moments in time 2013

Looking back at 2013

By Emma Palova

EW Emmas Writings Journal

I’ve experienced a very productive year, both professionally and personally. On January 15th, I started my blog with WordPress to increase public engagement for my memoir project “Greenwich Meridian.”

The readership has grown from zero to nearly 200 followers in less than one year. As a lover of new things, I found a new passion in writing online, designing and search engine marketing.

My trophy case with WordPress says, “You are a prolific publisher. Why don’t you blog about it.”

As I learned the nuts and bolts of the business, I continued to explore my memories. The memoir tells a story about the family immigration saga that now spans three generations.

Emma Palova in her writing studio in Lowell, Michigan.
Emma Palova in her writing studio in Lowell, Michigan.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4- “The life of returned immigrants in communist Czechoslovakia.” It covers our return from the USA to the homeland in 1973 based on the presidential amnesty.

          When we finally got out of a week-long nightmare at the quarantine Trebotov, it wasn’t exactly how I envisioned our homecoming. I was shocked at the dilapidated state of villages and towns in Bohemia and Moravia.

          “Mom why is everything so old and ugly?” I asked innocently.

          “It’s an old country my dear,” she smiled. “This is were you and I belong.”

          “How can you say that after what we’ve been through at the quarantine?”

          Due to chronic shortage of housing, we moved in with my paternal grandparents in Stipa. Neither mom nor I were used to being constantly pestered, not to speak about my brother Vas. Both grandparents, who were educators, were strict and prompt.

          “Don’t touch that, don’t use that much water,” resonated through the house.

          To this day, the house and my late uncle Antonin remain a mystery to me, and that was one of the reasons why I travelled to Europe last September.

          But, back to Moments in time 2013.

In March I went to Florida for a retreat and an interview with my parents Ella & Vaclav Konecny who started the immigration saga in mid 1960s. See posts “Interview with my parents for Greenwich Meridian on March 10th, 13th & March 17th.

Whites Bridge near Smyrna, Michigan.
Whites Bridge near Smyrna, Michigan.

April brought flood waters to Lowell and Grand Rapids, the two communities that are the closest to where I live.

As far as my blog goes, I started adding pages covering local stories and interesting people. I will continue this with more inspiring area people into 2014.

One of the most heartbreaking moments came  in July.

The Whites Covered Bridge burnt in Smyrna, which upset the history lover in me.

To be continued……

Copyright © 2013 story and photos by Emma Palova

EW This WordPress.com site is about Emma's Writings.