Friday, July 30, 2010

Off to England

The last couple days in Valencia have been amazing. Not only did we get the job done on the field, we got to go to the beach and have dinner out by the boardwalk.

In our game on Thursday we came out ready. Having gone over some film and working some things out in practice on Wednesday, we had refined a few important keys to our game plan. Most of all we knew we wanted that win and to prove ourselves as a top team. It was a hard fought game that we dominated in the statistics, but only found the back of the cage late in the second half. We held onto that one goal lead for the remainder of the game.

We couldn't rest here though. With the series tied at one, Fridays game was even more important to prove that our 1-0 win was not a fluke. We knew we had Spain on their heels, but we also knew they would be a little pissed they lost and would come back with even more of a fight today. We were ready for the challenge and we seized the opportunity. We came out of today's match even more dominant in the stats sheets including a 2-0 win that could have easily been more.

With a good result, we were all in good spirits and ready for a nice evening at the beach (la playa- I'm working on my Spanish!). Just a few blocks away, the Mediterranean Sea was a beautiful site. We got a few hours to walk around, check out the street vendors, and take a dip in the water before we had dinner at a restaurant right on the boardwalk. It was so nice not only to not eat at the dorms, but to sit right by the water as the sun went down and get some real Spanish food. It was a great way to end our stay in Valencia. (And to think how nice it would be if we had a few more days to vacation here)!

Anyways, we are off to England tomorrow for what will surely be even more of a test for our team. We have to stay tough and continue to improve if we want to get a few more wins before we return to the states! I can't wait to be around people who speak English though!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The first couple days in Valencia have been an adjustment for our team. Since most of us arrived Sunday, Monday's test match against Spain was changed to a scrimmage (3 X 25 minute periods). Not having the optimal preparation due to our obvious change in travel plans led us to yet another change in schedule, but it's nothing we aren't used to.

Monday was still a great opportunity for our team to get our legs under us, our touch back, and try some new things against a top team in the world. The first period we came out a little sluggish and a little off, but as the game went on we started to get everything clicking. We all felt pretty good about our performance considering we had just walked off a plane the day before. We even came out with a 2-1 win.

But that was only a scrimmage. The real test would be how we fared when the game counted on Tuesday. We came out confident, knowing what to expect from the Spaniards, but our touch was just a bit off. We were a bit more sluggish than the day before and you could see that our bodies had not fully adapted. Although we fought hard and created quite a few good goal scoring chances, we didn't take advantage of them, leaving us behind on the scoreboard 2-0.

This was a bit disappointing, but the bigger lesson of the game and the trip were not lost. We know we still have 2 more chances against Spain, bodies recovered and ready to get the job done. We want that W and we know we have the ability to get it. I know this group of players is up for the challenge.

On a more positive note, this game marked an important achievement for a few of our players. For three, it was their first cap, their first time representing and wearing the red, white and blue. Michelle Vitesse, Paige Selenski, and Melissa Gonzalez quickly learned just how much faster and stronger the international game is. But they did not falter with Lauren Crandall leading the way. As captain, she earned her 100th cap last night. It is an amazing accomplishment to be able to step onto the field and play for your country and it was much deserved for each of these players. Congrats girls!

We've had a lot of hockey since we got here. Tours are often sleep, eat, play, eat, repeat. We haven't gotten to see much so far because we are staying in dorms and the field is only a couple blocks away, but today we did have a little free time since we didn't have a game, just practice. A few of the girls took the chance to catch up on some sleep while others took the opportunity to do a little shopping in town. Needless to say, most of our team is lacking a large Spanish vocabulary and got a little lost reading the metro signs on the way back. Turns out their metro signs are a bit different than we are used to in the states. But everyone made it back safely and we all got a good laugh. Since our games are in the morning tomorrow and Friday, we are hoping to have a bit more time to see the city and possibly get over to the Mediterranean as well (it's only 5-10 minutes away)!

Oh and don't worry... all our luggage finally arrived!
We are all in good spirits and excited for the chance to play Spain again!
Watch our game online! (The link is on US Field Hockey)
As always... keep following... and GO STATES!!!

Here are a couple of pictures courtesy of Rachel Dawson:

Sunday, July 25, 2010


All week I’ve been dreading the day and half trip that it would take us to get to Valencia, Spain all the way from San Diego, California. What amounts to a 9 hour time difference which is never friendly on the body. Today I write to you, some 3 days later, finally in Valencia.

The trip started off like any other Friday morning as we departed the Training Center in Chula Vista, California at 9 am. With the team split up on two different flights, our group had to check all the extra baggage. Still, we left for Dallas without a hitch. But as is normal in the summer months in Dallas, thunderstorms rolled in, delaying our flight out for Madrid, Spain. After a 2 hour wait, we were at last under way for our 9 and a half hour flight. At this point, we knew we weren’t going to make our connecting flight in Madrid, so we had our manager rebook us on a later flight to Valencia.

With little to no sleep (I only got an hour), we stumbled off the plane in Madrid ready to get some new stamps in our passports! In what seemed like a giant maze where we were the rats looking for cheese, we wandered the airport, going in circles, up and down the same elevator multiple times before we finally found our way! (None of us seemed to know any Spanish which didn't help us too much!) It didn’t take long for us to realize that our reservations from American Airlines somehow did not transfer to Iberian Air and we did not actually have a flight to Valencia. After a few more hours of waiting around (mostly sleeping on the floor), our manager Pam Stuper had gotten everything reorganized for us, booking a flight for the next morning and getting us set up with a hotel nearby.

The best part about this whole set up had to be the fact that our bags were being held at the airport overnight for us (so we didn't have to lug them around all night and recheck them in the morning), so we were left with the clothes we wore on the plane. Yes, we wore the same outfits for close to three days. Don’t worry, we got a shower in and rinsed out our clothes as well.

As the rest of our teammates arrived Saturday night in Valencia, we finally arrived Sunday afternoon, ready for our Sunday evening practice in preparation for our game against Spain on Monday!! Of course all of the bags made it except for mine!! So I had to borrow clothes and hope my bag comes tonight so I can get my uniform and play in the game tomorrow!! Needless to say, I will never complain about a 24 hour trip, because it could always be worse… I learned that one the hard way!

We are all here though and ready for our first match as a team!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Navy Seals!!

A normal Wednesday for us usually consists of a 45 minute run and the day to rest. This Wednesday was just a bit different. We were headed to Coronado for a morning of Navy Seals training. As we passed over the bridge in our entourage of Olympic Training Center vans, we admired the beauty of the city of San Diego but we were all a little unsure of what exactly we were getting ourselves into.

We got a wakeup call as soon as we pulled up to the Naval Base. The minute everyone was out of the vans we were off running. You could see in everyone’s facial expressions that this was going to be a long day that we weren’t quite ready for. After a short introduction and tutorial about the Navy Seals, we were back outside looking up at the daunting obstacle course of ropes and logs and barbed wire.

We were split into four groups of 6 and led to different obstacles. This was actually my favorite part of the day. I love obstacle courses because they test you mentally and physically. We did everything from crawling under barbed wire, to jumping over logs, to climbing ropes (….lots of ropes), to climbing over walls. It was really cool to watch everyone figure out all the obstacles, as well as come together to help our team get through it all.

The next part of the day really tested us all as a team. In our groups, we all had a log (it was basically a piece of a telephone pole). Each group had to pick this pole up, put it down, pick it up again, do squats, lunges, and sit ups with it. In between we repeatedly heard “Wet and Sandy!” This was the most grueling part of the day. (For those of you that don’t know, it means jump in the water, completely submerged, then roll in the sand until completely covered… including your face). Add some crawling through the sand and a little run down the beach, and we ended the morning physically and mentally exhausted.

But we made it as a team. We made it together. The lessons we learned were great. We would have not been able to complete the tasks and challenges put before us if it wasn’t for our teammates right by our side. We learned just how far we can push our bodies, and that when you think there is nothing left, there is. In fact, there is about 40% more. Most importantly, we learned that simple things can take you to the top. Keeping things simple and doing the little things well, one at a time, that is what makes you successful. Doing each task in the moment. For us it’s about winning and losing. To a Navy Seal, losing is death. We all represent the United States of America and we have to give everything we have each time we get the opportunity to compete.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ups and Downs

Life is full of ups and downs. Wins and loses. From everyday struggles to life changing decisions, we are constantly being asked to react to different obstacles placed before us. I think Lou Holtz, a legendary football coach, put it best: "Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and 90 percent how you respond to it."

After coming off a successful first week with our new squad scrimmaging (and winning) against our Under-19 boys teams, the team was feeling good. With a few days off to recover, everyone had a good couple days off exploring the greater San Diego area. (I actually took a quick trip up to Seattle which is also an amazing city and was an awesome trip)!

Returning to training this week posed a bit more of a challenge for us as a team. We really had to buckle down, physically and tactically because everyone has to be on the same page before we leave for Europe at the end of the week. We added more training sessions as well as more running. We are even doing a session with the Navy Seals tomorrow! (I am actually quite excited about this because I think it will be a really neat experience, even though I know it will be tough! I'll post later this week and let you know how it goes!)

As we try to fit everything in this week before we head off to competition, other factors off the field have had an impact on not only myself, but my teammates. Personally, I have been planning to go to Holland this coming year (fall and spring) to play in their club system, but things haven't worked out exactly as planned. As the fall approaches, it puts a little more pressure on me to get things worked out. But as with everything else in my life, I believe there is a reason this is happening and something better must be on the way. I must react in a positive manner in order to get a positive outcome.

I think it is important that if you want to be successful in your sport, that you must not let outside factors affect you on the field. It is a difficult skill to learn, but when you step onto the field, all that matters is what you are doing at that moment on the field. Although there is a lot going on in my life outside of field hockey, I am ready and excited to go to Europe and focus on hockey for the next 2 weeks.

As always, GO USA!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Adventures and Family

So we are all finally back in California after a week off to recover from National Championships. Most of us got to spend some time at home with our families for the 4th of July weekend. I spent the weekend with my dad, uncle, and aunt at the beach in North Carolina.

It was a fun little weekend filled with World Cup soccer games, a 4th of July parade and streetfest, a painting project, a lost dog, fireworks, lots and lots of fireworks, boating, wakeboarding, jetskiing, crab catching, and best of all: family.

Although a few things didn't go quite as planned this weekend such as the boat engine not working and then overheating, losing the dog (only for an hour), losing the crabs we caught, and having car trouble on the way home (when I had to get to the airport for my flight!), the most valuable thing I was reminded of this weekend is how the most important things in life are the people you care about. It didn't matter that we couldn't go out on the boat because we could still spend time together.

After weekends like this, I am reminded of the support that I have from home in continuing my hockey career. I realize how very lucky I am to be able to do what I am doing: playing and traveling the world, representing my country. So, I have come back out to California excited for the next journey that we have in store for us. I'm ready to see what this new team can accomplish!

I'll leave you with this:

"Success is not to be measured so much by the position one has reached in life but by the obstacles which they have overcome" ~ Booker T. Washington