Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 2, Page 8
Winter 1992
Saving sandy dreams and soccer balls
     "Building out of the back" has a double meaning for Delaware
soccer goalie Mark Puican. In the fall, it means building an offense
out of the back of the field with short crisp passes. During the
summer months, however, the term means fabricating a fantasy out of
tons of sand.
     For the last six summers, Puican has constructed sand sculptures.
His creations are not the ordinary castles that children build on the
beach on a lazy July afternoon. Rather, these are works of art that
take days to complete.
     Puican, his father, Richard, and family friends, Tom and Jonas
Neilson, have worked on an estimated 30 to 40 different sand
sculptures for contests and for fun.
     Last summer, the four created a stunning medieval castle at the
Christiana Mall, complete with bridges, waterways and dragons. In this
instance, they were free to pick their own design. But in the summer
of 1990, they contracted to build a castle that corresponded to the
mall's theme of "The World Comes to You."
     With this theme in mind, the sandy sculptors decided to construct
a castle with recognizable features from around the world. Included in
the final piece of work were India's Taj Mahal, the Colosseum in Rome,
the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Lombard Street in San Francisco, the
Neuschwanstein Castle of Germany, St. Basil's Cathedral of Russia and
a Swiss village.
     In all, they logged over 100 hours to complete the 11-foot-high
masterpiece that required 42 tons of sand, sprayed with a solution of
Elmer's glue and water to harden the surface.
     "This is one business where you start at the top," they joke.
     Puican and his team have won the Rehoboth Beach sand castle
competition, as well as one at Indian River Inlet. They placed second
at a contest in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, but Puican says, "We won the
People's Choice Award, so that was nice."
     A 1989 graduate of Christiana High School, Puican just completed
his junior season on the Delaware men's soccer team. He has been a
three-year starter for coach Loren Kline and currently ranks second on
the school's all-time save list.
     Puican sees one similarity between his two "trades"-the virtue of
     "You can work on part of a castle for hours and then it can
collapse on you and you have to start over," he says. "On the field,
you have to be patient, especially in this sport. It can take a while
to set up a play, but then things can happen quickly."
     -Ernie Larossa