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Ohio Soccer Summer Blog: Brieanna Charlebois - Part II

Ohio soccer's junior midfielder Brieanna Charlebois had a front-row seat for the U.S. Men's National Team's run to the knockout stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

July 14, 2014

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio University soccer student-athletes will be checking in with OhioBobcats.com throughout the summer to update Bobcat Nation on their lives. Junior midfielder Brieanna Charlebois (London, Ontario) continues the summer blog series.

Charlebois has appeared in 26 career games for the Bobcats over the last two seasons, logging 419 minutes of action.

A Journalism-Strategic Communication major, Charlebois took part in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism's Brazil Bobcats program, an exclusive partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation that afforded seven Ohio students the opportunity to cover the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

This is the second blog entry Charlebois has penned for OhioBobcats.com on her World Cup experience. Check out the first here.

Brieanna Charlebois' Blog Entry
I spent the month of June in Brazil with the U.S. Soccer Federation covering the World Cup with the U.S. Men's National Team. It was one of the most amazing experiences. I learned a lot about the sport by watching training, listening to press conferences, seeing how the chemistry of a high-class team works and watching World Cup matches live.

After going to New Jersey and covering the friendly against Turkey, I got a taste of what to expect in Brazil. When I arrived to Sao Paulo on the 8th of June, we toured the city. Sao Paulo, which is home to more than 11 million, has several interesting places to visit. We went to Japantown for lunch, taking the subway (which is very confusing), and visited Basilica de Se, the largest church in Sao Paulo. After a bit of site seeing, the next day it was time to get to work! Luckily, it was only an hour time change, so jet lag wasn't too horrible.

For the next few weeks, we would go to practice at Sao Paulo FC, where we had press conferences of all sorts. This included mix zones, conferences and round table interviews. It was fascinating, because I not only got to attend the World Cup, I had an inside view and a more vested interest than other World Cup attendees.

I was able to write stories, some of which would appear on ussoccer.com, as well as a blog -- scrippssoccer.com. Being published on the official website was one of the most amazing things that came out of the trip.

In addition to attending practice and seeing how a federation is run, the seven interns were able to attend a few games and cover fan fests. When the opening game rolled around, we walked from our hotel to the city center of Sao Paulo to cover the event and write individual stories. This was the first time I realized how important soccer is throughout the rest of the world, and especially in Brazil. The fan fest was very exciting because it was the first match -- Brazil vs. Croatia. People from all over the world, supporting different countries, joined together for this event. Fan fests, which began in Germany in 2006, are a way to transport the excitement of the stadium into the park for those not able to attend the game. Large screens played the game. Each time Brazil scored, the entire city -- and country -- erupted. Cheers engulfed the city.

Attending the matches became an amazing experience that would top basically any other. The first match I attended was the USA vs. Portugal in Manaus. We took a flight from Sao Paulo to Manaus, which took about four hours. The next two days were incredible. We checked in at the hotel and went to watch the Germany vs. Ghana match on a patio. We ate fish that are only found in the Amazon and watched in anticipation because this match was vital for the USA to move on past the group round and out of the "Group of Death". The two teams tied, which was good news for the U.S.

That night, we went to cover the party at USA Fan HQ. While there, we met the friends and family of the team, as well as many excited fans. After the event ended at 2 a.m., it was time to write a story that was due in the morning. Needless to say, I didn't get to sleep before 4 a.m. On the morning of June 22nd, we returned to Fan HQ, where we ate lunch with the family members of the team while fans had fun chanting and dancing to the live band.

The game was incredible. Each time the team scored, the U.S. fan base went wild. However, it was heartbreaking that Portugal ended up tying the game in the last 30 seconds of the match. Read my story about attending the game and the experience here.

The next two weeks, we watched a lot of matches while spending time with media members from many sports stations, magazines and newspapers. We were able to dine with many important members, including Steven Goff from the Washington Post, and Fox Sports/Sports Illustrated reporters such as Grant Wahl, who were able to give great advice and share personal anecdotes about the journalism field.

Another interesting experience was attending the Germany vs. USA match in a bar in downtown Sao Paulo. The bar was packed by noon with USA and Germany fans. It all came down to this moment. USA vs. Germany would play at the same time as Portugal vs. Ghana. The results determined which team would move on to the round of 16. Playful arguments about who would win and who was the better team echoed throughout the restaurant for the entire 90 minutes. However, even though we lost the match, 1-0, because Portugal beat Ghana, 2-1, both Germany and the USA were through to the round of 16. What seemed like competition between USA and Germany fans suddenly ceased to exist and the celebrations began.

With a win that felt like a tie (Ghana), a tie that felt like a loss (Portugal) and a loss that felt like a win (Germany), the USA did what no one thought possible and made it out of the `Group of Death'.

Soon after, I was able to fly to Salvador to watch the USA vs. Belgium match. This was a very different experience than the Portugal game.

The night before, we went to Fan HQ and again covered the party. After another late night of writing, we woke up early on game day and went to the beach before the game. The beach was beautiful and definitely something I am grateful to have experienced.

The match was something else entirely. The American Outlaws (a group of fans who follow the team) were not given their usual section because it was uncertain whether the team would make it through when tickets were sold. Soon after the kickoff, our section became overcrowded, as many USA fans filed in, attempting to get in on the action. Our seats became the cheering section. Ironically for me it was Canada Day (July 1st), and I was chanting "USA, USA!" By the end of the game, the result was a heartbreaking loss of 2-1 in overtime. However, regardless of the score, the U.S. Men's National Team did the nation proud, and it is clear that the USA is becoming a real competitor on the international soccer stage.

It was now officially over. The next day, we traveled back to Sao Paulo, where we would soon catch a flight back to the USA (and then home to Canada for me). Now that the World Cup is over and Germany won the title of World Cup Champions, I am unbelievably happy and excited that I was able to attend and experience such a high level of competition. The rest of the world takes soccer (or futbol, as the rest of them call it) extremely seriously. However, the fan base is growing in North America (heck, I'm not even American, so I'm a prime example!).

This was one of the best experiences of my life, both on a professional level and a personal one. It was something I had only dreamed of attending, and, after this, I plan to attend games at the Women's World Cup next year in my home country of Canada, and then, hopefully, go to Russia in 2016!

After an eventful summer focused on the game we all love, I am now excited to go back to Ohio for preseason and start playing again with my teammates and attempt to win a title of our own!

Some of the stories I wrote can be found here:
The New American Dream (U.S. Soccer)
It's Not A Sport (Scripps Soccer)
Vai dar Tudo Certo (U.S. Soccer) 

2014 Ohio Soccer Summer Blog Series Archive
Entry 1: Rachel Fryan
Entry 2: Gabby Hausfeld
Entry 4: Annie Beard