EWU grads coach girls to European crown

Omak graduate Erik Brucker and his wife, Laura, continue to find ways to immerse themselves into British life, including the sports scene.

Erik Brucker, 40, a 1997 Omak graduate, is the area director for Central London Young Life International in Central London.

Young Life is a non-profit mentoring ministry organization for youth in more than 100 countries.

Laura Brucker, who played soccer for Eastern Washington University, is a humanities teacher and coach at the international school.

The couple, who married in 2010, were with Young Life in Spokane for seven years before heading to London (their fourth school) in August of 2016. They also were in Cairo, Egypt.

“We love it here,” said Erik Brucker.

Last year the Bruckers attended a National Football League game in London.

They didn’t make it to last week’s NFL game in London, but a friend gave them tickets to an English Premier League soccer match last Sunday – Chelsea against Southampton.

“So that was fun,” said Erik Brucker, who sends out a top 10 update of doings with Young Life about once a year. “Quite the cultural experience!”

Laura joined some friends who are “football” fanatics and drove through the “chunnel” that connects Britain with France to see both the American and English teams play in the women’s World Cup this summer.

“It’s been waaaaay too long since we last checked in,” said Erik Brucker in a recent email update. “The best way I can think to describe these past few months is it’s been like breaking a full-court press in basketball. As you know, a full-court press is all about your opponent applying lots of pressure in the hopes your team will get rattled and turn the ball over.

“In the heat of the moment, a full-court press can be hard to handle, and it can get ugly in a hurry. However, when your team works together, you can break the pressure, and actually get high-percentage shots right at the basket,” he said.

The Bruckers, for the second year, coached the varsity girls’ basketball team, which finished 20-3 and won the European championship. The hoopsters came in at No. 1 in the update after rallying in the third quarter in Brussels to take gold medals.

“What an amazing group,” said Erik Brucker. “They are the goofiest bunch of hard-working, scrappy, fun, caring and talented players.

“At the awards ceremony, the athletic director in Brussels said he’d never seen a team play at such an intense level while having so much fun and caring for each other. I’m actually getting a little weepy just typing this.”

Getting back to living in London, he said, “These past few months have been challenging, and yet they have also been so fun, full and fruitful. And while we’ve definitely made a few errant passes and dribbled the ball off our foot a few times, we are thankful for the multitude of special moments we’ve been able to share.”

Laura Brucker also has been coaching soccer along with track and field for the high school and middle school this past year.

“Laura also continues to influence the next generation of world-changers and the culture of school in the classroom, too,” said Erik Brucker. “She helped lead a social justice trip to Berlin, attended a brain development conference in Boston and has become an invaluable resource for students and staff in many subjects.”

The Bruckers squeezed in a visit with former Young Life basketball player, Mia, at Williams College. They also visited friends and family in Omak, Chelan, Spokane, Lopez Island, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., for a Cairo-reunion wedding.

They’ve also been visited by a ton of friends plus Erik’s parents, Jim and Jerry Brucker.

“We've yet to have tea with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, although we did see her and the whole family in a parade this summer,” said Erik Brucker. “Nevertheless, we are thankful for time with friends filled with ping-pong and trivia, canal boat trips, exploring the city, picnics in the park, birthday celebrations and nature walks through the British countryside.”

Al Camp is the sports editor at The Chronicle. Email him at sports@omakchronicle.com.

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