Thursday, September 30, 2010

Final pre-season preparation

This week has been pretty busy once again. I am trying to make the most of the time I have here in the Netherlands because I know it will go by a lot faster than I think!!

Saturday morning I spent the day in Den Haag with a teammate doing a little shopping. I have been really wanting to go shopping and get into the Dutch and European fashion! I got a few things, including a rain coat for all the rainy days! What I really wanted to find was a nice leather jacket. Everyone here seems to have one and wears it all the time! I found a few I liked, but wasn't sold on anything, so I'll have to keep my eye out for that one.

Saturday afternoon I found myself at the club for the presentations of the first teams of HGC (men's and women's). Every year once the team has been announced, they publicly present the team at the club for all the members to see. The coach gets up on stage, calls us up, and sometimes tells a little story about the team. It's nice to have so much support from the club and it's members. Also, they present the blauwboek (Blue Book) which is like a yearbook for the previous year. It has the pictures and rosters of the teams at HGC as well as a few articles and things about HGC, it's sponsors, and players. It was a pretty fun event.

Saturday evening, I had a great dinner at my teammate Inge's house. Her mother is taking a cooking class, so she invited a few of us over to try out the dishes. It was delicious!! Always nice to get a home cooked meal and for my teammate to open up her home to us!

After all the excitement of Saturday, Sunday was game day. We had our final practice match before the season starts against Pinoke, which is located in Amsterdam. Following a long weeks worth of practice working on tactics: mostly our movement when outletting and our press, we were ready to put it into a game situation. The first half looked really good and I was impressed to see how well we had learned and adjusted that week. Unfortunately, the scoreboard didn't reflect our level of play. It was still just 1-1 at half. I'm not quite sure what happened in the second half, as we became a bit frantic and had a lot of unforced turnovers. We ended up losing the game 3-1.

Although this is not the way we wanted to leave off leading up to our first game of the season, this week's practices have been very positive. We have shown that we are capable of playing well, individually and collectively. As long as we can maintain our focus for a full 70 minutes, we should not only be able to compete with every team in the league, but should do quite well. We know that the games count now, and you can tell that everyone has stepped it up a notch at practice. I have a good feeling about this weekend, even though we play one of the top sides in Laren.

Check back next week for an update!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Hockey training with the kids

The oldest child in the family I help out with is 8 years old. His name is Declan and he also plays hockey at HGC. It is a much different culture here in regards to hockey when Declan, like many of the other children, have already been playing hockey for 2 or 3 years. I didn’t even know what the sport was until I was 11! I was asked to help out with the team though because they don’t really have a coach and have had parents trying to run practice. I’ve coached a lot over the years from Futures to summer camps and more. So far, this experience though has been quite different from the coach I'm used though.

First of all, the kids are quite a bit younger than I am accustomed to working with, but at the same time more skilled than I expected. It can be hard to get the attention of a group of 8 year olds! It is even harder when you speak a different language that most of them don’t understand. So a lot of practice I have to demonstrate and show the kids what I am trying to explain. (Often Declan helps me because he knows English and can translate, or there is a parent there helping to translate which helps a lot). Although the children seem to like me, it can be quite hard at times to get them to do what I am asking or trying to explain. Even simple things can be extremely hard to explain, so patience and persistence are very important. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, non-verbal communication can be very useful, and that goes for teaching hockey as well. But working with the kids is also helping me learn more hockey terms! I realize just how many words I really don’t know yet!

I have a funny story to go along with that which happened this week. So while I was helping train some of the kids, I had pulled one of the boys aside and was working with him individually. He was having trouble doing a reverse stick pull because he wasn’t moving his hands correctly. Since he understood nearly no English, I was showing him and moving his hands for him. This strategy was not working so well, but I didn’t know what else to do because I didn’t know how to explain it in Dutch. Just then, my coach from Dames 1, Peter, walked up to the field to say hi. He laughed for a second as he watched me struggle to explain. He helped describe what I was showing in Dutch to the boy and immediately he understood what to do. A little bit embarrassed and frustrated, I thanked my coach and told him I had to get back to coaching. He agreed but replied that he would give me a long list of Dutch hockey words to learn because I needed it! Haha, indeed I do!!

Even though I’ve coached a million times, this is a completely new experience where I really have to get down to the basics and break down the skills. The kids are a lot of fun though and I am quickly picking up a lot of new hockey words which will help me on field at my practices as well! Once again, I just laugh at the language barrier and find new ways to communicate until I can learn more Dutch!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make the most of it!

Things have been so busy here, sometimes I wonder when do I stop and think! It has been a really nice change to the lack of activities I find for myself to do when I am out in California training full time with the National Team. It's also nice to have the option of relaxing every now and again, but for right now I am enjoying all the new experiences I have been having all over the great country of the Netherlands!!

This past weekend, we had what we call a "team weekend" meaning simply that we spend the weekend together bonding with each other and building on our goals. Friday we had practice, then went downtown Den Haag for a bit before having somewhat of a "sleep over" at the house in Den Haag where a few of the girls live. On Saturday, we spent the morning working out our strengths and weaknesses, goals, and did a few team bonding exercises. All in all it was a very productive morning. The fun stuff came in the afternoon though!! Two of the girls created a scavenger hunt. Split into 4 teams, we had to do a list of tasks and video ourselves doing them to show the rest of the team. With items such as: drive around a round-a-bout 25 times, drive backwards for 1km, teach 5 people how to do the moonwalk, sell 3 cucumbers for a profit, everyone switch clothes, and eat a container of cat food as a group... just to name a few! It was pretty funny to watch the videos afterwards at dinner!

Sunday we traveled all the way to Den Bosch which is in more of the Southern part of Holland about an hour and half away. Den Bosch has won the Hoofdklasse Championship around 12 of the last 15 years. In other words, they are consistently one of the best teams. Unfortunately I think we gave them a bit too much respect in the first half and found ourselves down 3-0. Although a good side, we knew if we challenged them a bit more and put them under more pressure, we could be successful. The second half resulted in a 1-1 tie, but left us with a 4-1 loss. It was frustrating to take such a big blow for our first loss, even though these matches don't count yet. I do think we took a lot out of that game and know now that we can play with anyone in this league if we take risks and play to our strengths.

Just one more practice match this coming weekend before the season starts October 3rd. I'm pretty excited for the season, even though we still have a few things to work out on the field.

"Enjoy it. Nothing good lasts forever. Make the most of it." - good advice from my mom!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Day in Town

Imagine you are riding you bike down a cobblestone road through the line of trees on your way into town. You are in your normal attire (as opposed to athletic wear often worn when biking) and you pull into town to see the line of 30 bikes already parked and locked about the racks. As you venture into the rows of streets lined with shops, foreign signs of unfamiliarity seem to encompass the area. You slowly take in all the sights and sounds: signs in Dutch, new types of fashion, food stands selling what look like hard waffles (better known as stroopwafels), people in every direction speaking even more Dutch. Without hesitation you begin to journey through the unfamiliar into what surprisingly reminds you of home. Around the corner is a McDonalds and around the other is a coffee shop. Brightly colored signs indicate the shoe store is having a sale. Groups of girls with shopping bags laugh together as they make their way into another shop. You even see someone wearing a USA t-shirt. You decide to try one of these waffle creations and find out just how delicious they are! You walk into a couple shops and fall in love with a stylish new jacket. You even begin to recognize what some Dutch words you hear. After an afternoon of adventure, you decide to head home. As you pedal, you think about the day and…

You quickly realize that things aren’t so different here. And even when they are, differences aren’t always bad things. In fact, it is these new experiences that allow you to not only appreciate what you have, but allow you to learn and accept why others do things differently. In time, you learn to embrace the new way of living and might even learn a few things about yourself that you never knew!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Two Weeks

Two weeks have passed since I arrived here in the Netherlands. I can hardly believe it has only been two weeks because I have been so busy and done so many things!!

This past weekend we had a practice match against Hurley. Former National Team Player, Lauren Powley, is currently playing for Hurley so it was really fun to see and play against her!! Unfortunately my team did not play very well and the game ended in a 0-0 tie. It was quite frustrating after doing so well in our previous matches, but without a doubt we learned a lot from that game. After our match, we watched the men's team at HGC play in their first official match. The men's team from our club is one of the top teams in the league, so very exciting to watch!! They tied Den Bosch 3-3. After the men's game, I got to spend some time catching up with Lauren as well as visiting with one of my college teammates and roommates, Minou. She is from the Netherlands and it was so nice to finally see her again after living with her for four years!

We had yet another practice match today. This time against HDM, from right down the road in Den Haag. We went over a lot of tactics the past few days in practice and it definitely paid off tonight. We played much better and came out with a 4-2 win, which easily could have been more. It was good to see our team recover from a not so good performance on Sunday and implement some new tactics we have been working on. We have a lot of potential for this season, so I am excited to see what we can do!

I am most excited for this weekend though!! We have a team weekend, which means we go away as a team and spend the whole weekend together. Our coach has planned some fun activities for us during the day on Saturday, we have a team dinner Saturday night, and then a practice match at Den Bosch on Sunday. The goal of the team weekend is to help us really get to know our teammates better and have a little fun away from hockey. I feel as though this will add even more to the team chemistry we have begun to build and should be really good for our team. Plus it will be fun!!

Two weeks have passed. It is amazing what can happen in just two weeks. Two more weeks until our first match of the season. I can't wait to see what will happen in the next two weeks...!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Settling down in Holland

It's been a few days since I last blogged. Still trying to get into a routine over here in Holland. Definitely a lot different living with and helping out with a family. I love kids but man they can be a handful at times! haha. It's only my second week here, so I'm starting to settle into my new BUSY schedule a bit more.

Hockey has been really good. We had another scrimmage on Wednesday against Schaerweijde who are from Utrecht, but play in the second division. We did not play great in the first half, but found ourselves up 2-0 at half nonetheless. The first was a stroke we earned off a corner when the straight strike hit the post player in the leg. The second was a field goal with just seconds left in the half. At halftime we worked out a few things with our press and turned the second half around, dominating the whole half. We came out with 2 more goals, both straight strikes on corners. Overall, it was a pretty good game for us and I was happy to see us trying some things we had practiced the day before. That game showed us as well that we still have a long way to go and lots to work on!

Personally, I am still getting used to the style of play a bit, but more so I am just trying to work out the movements and concepts with the other forwards. At times it seems we all have our own agendas on the field. Hopefully in the next couple weeks we can start to get on the same page with that so we can be even more dangerous in the attack!

Other than that, I have had a lot of fun playing with the girls at HGC. Although we may have a language barrier, hockey is something that brings us together. It's a game that has it's own language. It's been really awesome to see how I can still play and understand the game and those around me, even when we sometimes struggle to communicate with each other. Sports really can bring people from all over the world together. It's a pretty cool perspective if you think about it!!

Well, I must be going, but hopefully I will have more fun adventures to tell of in my next post! Keep following! To see more, visit !!

The downtown street in Wassenaar

Lots of bikes everywhere...

The windmill in downtown Wassenaar

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Week in Holland

The first week here in Holland has been super busy! From watching after the kids to practicing, I haven’t had a lot of down time! I finally got into town (of Wassenaar) on Friday and explored the shops and the grocery store. There isn’t a whole lot in town, but there is a Bagel shop that I plan on going to a lot! The grocery store is obviously a bit different than back in the states, but there are some advantages. The Dutch are well known for their cheeses, so there are a multitude to choose from at really inexpensive prices. I plan on trying different kinds of cheese every week!

Practices have been going well. I am still trying to get adjusted to the style here and how all the girls play individually. I’m still learning everyone’s names as well. There is someone new at every practice! And the Kiwis aren’t even here yet (because they are still playing at the World Cup). But we had our first scrimmage today against Kampong anyways. I was really interested to see how everything would come together and we did quite well. After we settled into the game, we had most of the possession. We had a lot of chances but only finished the game 2-1. Still a good start for us considering Kampong finished 4th in the league last year and we finished closer to the bottom. There is still a lot of work to be done though! Two more scrimmages this coming week, so lots to look forward to and learn from.

Yesterday I did have the day off though from looking after the kids and from hockey. I meet up with a couple of my teammates at the Bagel shop for lunch then biked over to the next city, Den Haag, to explore. Den Haag is an important city because it houses most of the governmental buildings in Holland. There is a big center with tons of shops (clothing) and restaurants. It is a really nice area that I will have to spend some more time! Hopefully next weekend I can do a bit more exploring; maybe see the beaches or other towns nearby…

Until next time… Doei!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I officially arrived in Holland Tuesday morning. After a few hours sleep on the plane I was picked up by the family I am au pairing for. Their youngest son Quinn (he is almost 2) was home, but the older children Skylily (5 years old) and Declan (8 years old) were both at school. Although I was exhausted, I knew it would be best to stay awake all day in order to adjust quickly to the 6 hour time change. I went into the little downtown of Wassenaar with Sharon and Quinn which is only 2 small streets. We got lunch at the Bagel Alley and got Quinn a new pair of shoes. After chasing Quinn around for another hour, we picked up the other children from school and then I was off to my first practice at HGC.

Practice was a little intimidating at first. Although our coach is Australian, he runs practice in all Dutch. (Which makes sense, we are in Holland after all!) That took a little getting used to since I don't really know any Dutch. I followed along and asked the girls a few times to explain. All of the girls were very nice and were always making sure I understood. We had two practices that first day, but it was nice to move around and get to know the girls right away. Best of all, one of my teammates from college, Kim, is also playing for HGC and is an au pair just a few blocks from me. It is amazing to see her, catch up, and play with her again!!

After a good nights rest, Wednesday was just as busy! I watched Quinn for most of the morning before going into Amsterdam for Sharon's nieces 1st birthday party. All the kids were so cute and the cake was delicious! Once we got back, I was off to practice again. This time we had running before training. It was not too difficult for me besides the fact that I was still a little jetlagged, but I think it was pretty tough for the rest of the team. It is not surprising that we do a lot more fitness/running in the US! Training went well as I started to get used to the girls, their style of play, and working off of them. I'm still learning all of their names, but again they all have been extremely understanding and helpful.

So far, I have had a really good experience with the family and the team. I have also been lucky it hasn't rained yet! Although, it is a bit colder than I'm used to. I look forward to our first scrimmage this weekend against Kampong and some time off to explore what is around Wassenaar and Den Haag.

More to come soon! Pictures coming also!