Saturday, February 27, 2010

United States!

We finally arrived back in the states after what seemed like days of travel. Leaving on Monday morning, we didn't arrive to our final destination until Tuesday afternoon (and night for some of us). So happy to have finally arrived back in the states, although exhausted, the first thing I had to do was go get a burrito! One of the big questions toward the end of tour is "what is the first thing you are going to eat when you get back?" We often are fed the same meals on tour, so there are those American foods/restaurants we crave on tour. Needless to say, my body was happy to finally have some familiar food as well!

Since being home, it has been so nice to finally be able to watch the Olympics in English!! And have all the coverage of the American athletes we so lovingly support! As always, the Olympics never fails to amaze me. With crazy crashes and amazing stories. The most touching has to that of figure skater Joannie Rochette from Canada. She lost her mother to a heart attack just days before competing in the games, yet found a way to still compete at the highest level. Her strength and determination led her to a bronze medal finish. What an inspiration this young women is to all of us. This is one of the many reasons I love the Olympics. It just goes to show to heart of these amazing athletes.

As the Olympics come to a close tomorrow, I am sad that I will no longer be able to watch these fascinating performances, but it gives me new motivation to continue on my journey for 2012. I see the emotion that comes with years of hard work, dedication, and passion, and I know that I want to be a part of that. I know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into the process, and I can't wait to get back out on the field Monday morning and continue to train.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rain Rain (Don't) Go Away!

With tension mounting (as Rachel mentioned in her blog), Thursday's 4-0 win over Belgium was a much needed win for our team. With no game on Friday, we headed to the field for practice in order to continue refining some areas that the last few games have highlighted we need to address. As we got off the bus, we felt the light sprinkle of rain beginning to fall. As the many other rain "storms" we have encounter here in Argentina, we figured it was just one cloud that would soon pass. So we got down to the field and we waited. It didn't take long for the rain to turn into downpour though. Within minutes, the field was soaked, beginning to puddle. We experienced these types of storms just weeks before back in California, making the field unpracticable.

All of a sudden, Claire Laubach, Katie O'Donnell, Kayla Bashore, Lauren Crandall, and Sara Silvetti run out onto the field with the soccer ball (which we always bring with us for Friday soccer and it was Friday after all). In what seemed like a monsoon with the amount of rain falling, everyone on the team slowly decided to join. After an intense, and difficult (lots of puddles!) game of soccer, we convinced the coaches to join in the fun.

With the field covered, a slip-n-slide contest proceeded. The coaches even got into this one. Some local boys also came down with a boogie board to make use of the wet conditions. While this was going on, a game of whiffle ball began (also one of the accessories we travel with). Leeroy served up some nice curveballs, but most of the team got hits off, only to see Claire and Rachel come up with some big throws to first. As the game came to conclusion, the rain also seemed to stop.

With about 30 minutes left in our practice time, still soaking wet, we decided to play one last big game of soccer with all of the coaches and coaching staff to finish up. Although we did not even touch our sticks, I think this practice is just what we needed. We have been playing so much hockey, with few days off in 2010, and a day of fun games to get our minds away from hockey is just what our team needed to refocus and go into the last two games in Argentina fired up and ready to go! Although most teams would have just cancelled practice, our team always seems to find a way to make the most of altered situations, and of course make them fun! A little rain never hurt anyone!

Photos taken by Jamie Young

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Game Day's

Throughout our playing days, we all have developed routines and rituals that we find work best for us before games. Over the years, these often change and evolve until they are right for each individual.

These rituals vary from what sock or shoe is put on first, listening to a specific song or playlist, or even sitting in a certain seat on the bus to the field. Whatever it may be, these rituals and routines often have a calming effect, helping us feel fully prepared, with every minute detail and factor in our control taken care of before the game.

The morning of a game, you may find some of the players reading or doing a crossword to keep their minds active, yet not overly stressing the game. As the game begins to approach and we start to get physically prepared, many of us have to do our hair a certain way. (We are girls after all!) During this trip, Jackie Kintzer has become the braider of choice, even coordinating times to do Sarah Dawson and Katie O'Donnell's hair.

Once our hair is done, our uniforms are on, and our stick bags packed, we load up the bus and begin our journey to the field where really start to focus into the task at hand: taking care of business on the field and winning the game. At this point, many of us have our headphones in listening to anything from alternative (to stay relaxed) to hip-hop (to get pumped up). Upon arrival, we usually have close to 30 minutes before our actual warm-up on the field starts. This is where one of my favorite rituals takes place: The Hacky Sack game. About half the team participates, standing in a circle, hacking until everyone gets a touch. The rest of us usually spectate and get a few good laughs in along the way.

As we head to the field, our focus narrows. With a jog, stretch, and some touches on the ball, we are physically prepared for battle. After one last word from Lee, we finally take the field, hear the line-ups and the anthems, and we're ready to go. Personally, my favorite part is the anthem. Every time it gives me chills to know I am wearing my countries colors and representing not only myself and my team, but my country. It always puts things into perspective on how very lucky I am, how many people would love to be in my position, but how hard I've worked to get here. I know that every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner, I am about to embark on a once in a lifetime opportunity that fuels my passion for the game.

Despite our differences in rituals before each game, once the whistle blows we are all on the same page, working together for the same goal: a win for the USA.

Photo 1 & 2 taken by Michelle Kasold
Phtoto 3 Taken by Jackie Kintzer

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cordoba, Argentina

After a 10 hour overnight bus trip, we have made it to Cordoba!!! It's crazy to think that we were only in Mendoza for a few days. It seemed much longer with all the free time we had during the day and the 2 games we've already completed. Although we didn't get the results we would have wished, we continue to progress as a team towards our ultimate goal of world cup qualification.

As you all know, Valentine's day was yesterday, and seeing as we are all in Argentina far from our friends, family, and significant others, we found ways to make the most of the day. Maren's boyfriend seemed to outdo everyone when he sent roses to the hotel for her! This made all the girls a little jealous! (Okay, maybe a lot). I still think my Valentine was the best! (Sarah Dawson!!) We made the most of our day with a nice lunch date in the hotel restaurant (where we ate all our meals with the team) and an exchanging of cards we made. ;)

Cordoba will be a nice change of pace for us though. A new hotel, a new field, new opportunities and challenges. It almost feels like home too because we are "chillin at the Holiday Inn"!! haha.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mendoza, Argentina

We have officially arrived in Mendoza, Argentina!!! After 22 hours of traveling, we got in yesterday morning around 11am. Needless to say we were a little exhausted, most of us only having slept for bits and pieces of the flights. In good spirits, and with all of our bags, we had lunch waiting for us as we arrived at the hotel. After some down time to rest and nap, we had practice. We always practice on the first day of arrival to help us just get moving, get used to the turf, and adjust to the new time zone. Mendoza, Argentina is 5 hours ahead of Chula Vista, so it definitely has thrown us off a bit.

With a good nights rest under our belts, today's schedule includes two practices to really get our touch back and bodies ready to go. We already have our first game against Argentina tomorrow!! Fortunately our hotel is very accommodating with comfortable beds and good food to keep us charged and ready to go!

Pictures and video will be coming soon.

Nothing too crazy or funny has happened yet, but we did have a hallway pow-wow last night in order to use the internet. We get wireless in the rooms, but the signal is pretty weak. We discovered that it is much better in the hallway, so there were about 5 of us sitting in the hallway last night calling and skyping home from our computers.

OH! and I almost forgot... the WINTER OLYMPICS start today!!! Hopefully we will be able to watch it from down here and the TV coverage will be good. :)
GO USA!!!!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Big Steps

It's been a few days since I've last posted. This last week was pretty hectic. After finishing our test matches against Holland with a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds of the game (after being up 2-0 at half too), we had 2 final games vs. China to get a result. Our 2nd game with China was a hard fought 2-1 loss which was yet again disappointing after the effort and work we have put in. Going into the final game, we approached it as our World Cup qualifier, a must win to get into the World Cup. We took a mentality and belief that we would win the game no matter what. Finally taking a step in the right direction, we got the results, with a 2-1 win, weathering everything China could throw at us.

In conclusion of the series, we got some much needed time off this weekend. Finally getting settled into our new place, my roommates and I had the rest of the team over for a little house warming get together. It's always nice to have your own place and space to go home to after a hard day's training. :) It was also superbowl weekend, so 2 of my roommates and I got together with the Gementera's (the family we stayed with for a little bit in the fall of '09) and had some tacos, watched the game, and we'll took a little nap too... we were tired!! All in all, it was a nice little break from hockey to let our bodies and minds recover as we get ready for the next stage of our build up.

As we prepare to leave tomorrow for our trip to Argentina for more test matches in preparation for the qualifier, we are excited to continue stepping forward and seeing the results of the hours/days/years of hard work we have been putting in.