Four locals came back from Europe with more than jet lag.
Football players Jeanette Gray and Jamie Menzyk, head coach John Konecki and defensive coordinator Adam Lewandowski led Team USA to the gold medal at the Women's World Championships in American Football recently held in Vantaa, Finland.
Menzyk was an exception to the rule that linemen do not get the glory. The Whiting graduate was named the most valuable player of the tournament after the U.S. defeated Canada 64-0 on July 6 to win the gold medal.
Menzyk paved the way for Team USA to outscore its three opponents 253-7.
"We went out there and played our (butts) off and we were proud to bring home a gold," Menzyk said. "Coach Konecki said it all starts with the line and we all did our jobs. The whole team went out and earned it. I went out there and just played my (butt) off."
She was also the MVP in 2010 when Team USA won the championship.
"It was also a pride thing having won in 2010. We were playing for and representing our country. I think the world watches what the U.S. does in football."
Konecki said Menzyk is the best lineman in the world of women's football.
"She just goes out and controls people, knocks them out of the way," Konecki said. "For her to win MVP twice, that is a tribute to the type of player she is. She goes all out on every play."
Konecki, a Schererville resident and Crete-Monee football coach, is also the coach of the Chicago Force of the Women's Football Alliance. Gray and Menzyk are starters on the team. Lewandoski is the defensive coordinator for Crete-Monee as well as for Team USA.
Gray is a former Valparaiso High School and Valparaiso University basketball star, and former Clark, Highland and Valparaiso girls basketball coach.
Gray was not on the 2010 team, but said she was amazed that Team USA did it twice. She compared it to winning the Olympics.
"Since football is our sport and we were representing our country, it made it feel great," Gray said. "I think that made it extra special because the world watches what the United States does in football. It is an American sport."
She said she also appreciated how a lot of the same women had the chance to win two championships. She caught a touchdown pass in one of the games.
"It was neat because this is a world tournament," Gray said on the day she returned to the U.S. "The whole experience was a great thing."
Even with the jet lag.
"Right now, my body clock is 6 a.m. tomorrow (July 8)," Gray said.