Commerce City, Colo. - The exams had not yet begun and the two folding chairs were already placed in their strategic locations in the locker room. Next came the roles of athletic tape, stretched across and affixed to the top of each chair to make a 'net' for the upcoming soccer tennis competition.
The game took place, but not until after the exams. As team athletic trainer Jaime Rojas explained to guys, it was not in their best interest to get their heart going before their blood pressure tests.
So while players patiently waited their turns, they recanted stories of each of their offseason:
FAMILY TIME: Matt Pickens' wife, Loubna, gave birth to the couple's first child as daughter Kameliah Ayanna Pickens was born in Colorado on December 29
WEDDING: Wells Thompson married his long-time sweetheart, Daphne, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in December. The couple then went on a missionary trip to Nicaragua.
WEDDING PART 2: Drew Moor spent a lot of his offseason in a tuxedo, serving as a groomsman in three seperate weddings around the country. First up was his cousin, Todd, then his sister, Hailey, and finally his good friend Kenny Cooper (now of the NYRB).
FAR OUT THERE: A lot of players traveled within the United States or to nearby vaction destinations, but two players earned the most frequent flyer miles. Goalkeeper Chris Sharpe returned to his native Australia and midfielder Joseph Nane went back to see his family in Cameroon for five weeks. (Note: Kosuke Kimura did not return to Japan, instead spending his offseason in Colorado).
But perhaps the most interesting travel story belongs to draftee Joel Helmick. After being selected in Tuesday's Supplemental Draft, he boarded a flight from Virginia to Colorado on Wednesday. When he landed, it was the furthest west he's ever been. Previously, the furthest he'd been was to Kansas City, where he trained with Sporting KC last summer.
OVERSEAS: You might recall that midfielder Jeff Larentowicz spent a few weeks training with English Premier League side Bolton following the 2011 season. He was not alone. Second year winger Eddie Ababio spent a few weeks in December training with the Werder Bremen reserves in Germany and goalkeeper Ian Joyce recently returned from a 15 days training stint with Millwall in England.
COACHING & TRAINING: Pablo Mastroeni took the National “B” License coaching course in California in December. It was a nice break in between plenty of time spent on the golf course...Defender Anthony Wallace was forced to miss the U.S. U-23 camp in December while he recovered from season ending knee surgery. He spent much of the winter rebabbing at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, where he also was able to spend some time talking to U.S. U-23 head coach Caleb Porter.
VEGAS, BABY, VEGAS! Marvell Wynne and Brian Mullan were among the more than 40 MLS players that joined Major League Baseball players at the annual Garth Brooks Teammate for Kids Foundation concert in Las Vegas in January. Mullan and Wynne joined other pro athletes who made donations for Brooks' foundation, which benefits charities that help children.
R&R: Omar Cummings didn't really have an offseason before 2011, having gone straight from the 2010 Cup to the Caribbean Cup and then to Aston Villa. After picking up knock after knock in 2012, he was the happiest to tell everyone how he spent this past offseason: resting and relaxing while visiting one beach after another with his wife in Jamiaca.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Kimura to trainer Jaime Rojas: "I told you something's wrong with me. My resting heart rate is only 42!" To which Rojas replied, "That's good. Think, Lance Armstrong's was 34!"