Monday, February 7, 2011

it's not all fun and games... unless you make it that way!

Hello World! It has been a busy start to the 2011 campaign for USA Field Hockey, but it has no doubt been a good start to what will be a great year for us! Let me give you a quick recap....

We arrived back in California for training on January 17th. The first two days went pretty smoothly as everyone was happy to be back and catch up after our months away from each other. But we did't take the practices lightly, as we hit the ground running with our first test series against Canada starting on the 19th. We came out strong and ready with a bold 4-0 win in the first game. We wanted to make a statement early on and we did just that. With double trainings on Thursday, we hit the field again Friday. Our bodies were feeling the first week soreness though and we struggled a bit to control the game. Falling behind at halftime, we found a way to push through the bumps and bruises and find ourselves atop the scoreboard 3-2 when the final whistle blew. Knowing we couldn't have another showing like that, we turned around Saturday, scored 2 goals, and kept a clean sheet in our backfield. Normally Sunday is a day off for us, but not this first week back. Not only did we have to take our team photo, many of us did a 5 hour photo shoot with our sponsor Asics, on top of a fitness run. With one final game to go Monday morning though, there was no way we were going to let Canada get anything out of us.... and we finished off the series with a decisive 6-0 win. Although Canada is not one of the highest ranking opponents we play, there is a rivalry there and there was still a lot we gained by playing them early on in our development phase for this year. Overall, a great start to 2011.

We weren't done there though. No rest for the weary. As our coaches promised us, this would be a challenging year where we not only push the limits, but we demand of each other a high level of commitment and skill. If we keep doing what we've always done, then we will get what we've always got... and for us, that's not good enough anymore. In combination with Sports Psych meetings, we paid a little visit to the decorated Navy Seals down the road in Coronado. In one of the most physically and mentally exhausting experiences of our lives, we spent 5 hours doing as the Navy Seals do. Push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, wet and sandy's, running miles carrying a boat, running miles back carrying a 30lb rucksack. We did it all. In ways you can only imagine unless you have been through it, we pushed ourselves to go longer and further when our bodies felt like they could no longer function, our minds took over in the moment of the action. This is a lesson we all hope to take back to our field of play, just being in the moment each step of the game. That is how a true champion succeeds no matter what the environment and obstacles around them.

Still without a day off (down to one-a-days instead of doubles) we finished the week with a few lighter practices (as our bodies were pretty crushed after the Seals training- just ask our massage therapist who was super busy those next couple days!) As the weekend hit, the opening game of the newly founded Asics League was played on Saturday between the Pacific Beach Panthers and the Coronado Islanders. (My team the Point Loma Suns wasn't playing in the inaugral game.) But finally on Sunday we had our first REAL DAY OFF!!! It was glorious! haha...

Compared to the first two weeks, the third week of training was not quite as eventful... although we did have to do a concussion test, blood work, get physicals, and do fitness testing. So our schedule still wasn't back to normal and we still had minimal amounts of free time.... but sometimes that is just life!

Despite all of the craziness of the first few weeks back with the National Team, for me it was very refreshing and inspiring. My teammates are like my family and I hadn't seen them in 5 months. It was and is nice being back in their company and training with some of the world's best athletes. Seeing all of the other athletes at the training center that I have become close with over the years always reminds of how special it is to get to do what I do every day. It is hard to explain, but the feelings of excitement and anticipation for the amazing year ahead just flowed through me everyday.

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