Thursday, December 20, 2012

My dog Oreo

Just over two years ago, I lost one of my best friends in the whole world: my dog, Oreo. Although some just say she is an animal, a pet, a dog; to me, she was (wo)man's best friend.
From the day I first saw her in the animal shelter, we had a connection. She picked me. As soon as I walked in, she wagged her skinny black tail against the chain-link fence until it was bloody. But she didn't care. She was so happy. She knew she was going home that day. As I walked around the corner to check out all the other dogs, she literally did not take her eyes off me. She stared longingly at the space I had just departed until the moment when I returned. After doing a loop, I couldn't help but notice the moment I returned, sweet Oreo went from calm to hyper the second I stepped foot into her line of sight. My mother watched in amazement. She had dogs her whole life and had never seen anything quite like it. Without hesitation, we knew which dog was ours.
Part beagle, part black lab mix, Oreo was already a year old and had garnered the name from her black and white coloring. She was a bit of a handful that first year though. The first week home we had trouble getting her to eat anything. She was so skinny you could see her ribs. Despite our worry, she was still extremely energetic and happy. After a progression of trial and error which started with dog food, went to cereal and yogurt, we finally got her to eat some steak with gravy on top. I know, what a spoiled dog! I don't even get that for dinner! She quickly began putting some weight back on, and soon she was healthy and back on her dog food!!
She was potty trained, but that is about all she knew how to do. We had to teach her to sit and stay, and what a treat was (the latter didn't take long though!) One of my favorite memories was how as soon as she sat down, she raised her paw in hopes you would take it in your hand to shake. I'm still not sure how she learned that without learning how to sit, but it made me smile! After losing a few school books and some drapes to her boredom and chewing, and a few too many nips and bites while playing, my mom had had enough and threatened to take her back. I was at a loss, only finding comfort from my dearest Oreo. I literally sat her down and told her she had to stop or she wouldn't be my dog anymore. As she licked away my tears, I knew she understood. From that day forward, she never once bit or chewed anything besides her dog bones. She understood.
We didn't have a fenced in yard, only a run line for her in the backyard. Every once and a while we wouldn't clip her well or she would sneak out the door, off she would bolt into the woods of Pinehurst. Of course we couldn't keep up with her, so we'd hop in the car and go searching. I was mostly worried she would dart into the road and get hit by a car. Funny thing was, every time we searched, we could never find her. Without fault, she was sitting in front of the garage every time we got home, just waiting for us so she could go back in the house. She would run until she was tired... Then she would come home. She was funny like that.
She was my best friend. And she was the bestest friend you could ask for. She was always happy, always there to give you a kiss, always wanted to play, and never questioned you. She loved you no matter what. She was always happy just to have you home. She could always tell when you were upset too. She would just sit by your side, and kiss away your tears (if it came to that). She was the best shoulder to cry on. Always listening, never judging. Not much of an advice giver (lol) but that didn't mean she wouldn't make you feel better and feel loved!!
In the last couple years of her life, she lost her sight, and possibly her hearing. (My mom thought she was deaf, but I'm pretty sure she just had selective hearing because she was smart, and she knew she didn't have to do anything anymore. No one would get mad at her. She could sleep all day if she wanted to. And if I ever said the word treat, hot damn she sure came running!) Anyways, I felt bad about her not being able to see, but within a month she figured out where everything was and was still as happy as could be! She was eating heartily and wagging her tail like crazy, just like she'd always done! Although one time, she walked herself into a corner, and couldn't figure out how to get out... So she just sat there and stared at the wall. Haha, it was a little funny to see a dog staring at a wall! Don't worry, I helped her out though!
She was 15 years old when she passed in her sleep. The doc says she had a mini heart-attack. But I knew she had lived a great life and she was as happy as can be all the way until her last day. I was thankful that she was never in pain either. Unfortunately though, I was not home to say goodbye. She passed while I was in Holland playing, just a week before I got home for the holidays. It was difficult, but I was glad I didn't have to see her lifeless. My memories of her are all just the opposite. She was the most energetic, loving little girl. She loved me and she picked me.
Over the years when I moved away to college and to play with the National Team, I was not able to take her with me. I had to leave her at home. She became my moms best friend, and although she'll never admit it, my mom loved her just as much as I did. Oreo followed her around and slept next to her bed religiously. That is, until the I would return home from school or travelling with the US team. That first night, she always came to sleep in my room. My mom says the first night after I would leave, she would also find her way into my room for the night. Bless her little heart, she missed me.
It never ceases to amaze how unconditionally dogs love. People could learn a lot from these wonderful creatures. I would love to get another dog, but I know I cannot with my busy schedule of travelling and playing at the moment. So in the meantime, I just play with all my friends dogs! Hehe.
But its hard not to think about her over the holidays. She stole my heart and she will forever have a piece of it! I miss giving her extra treats on Christmas or a big new bone. Maybe Santa will put one under the tree again this year in her memory! She was and always will be my little angel. RIP.
Although I have millions more memories with dear Oreo, these are a few of my favorites. I am sharing them with the world, but mostly I just wanted to give her a little tribute that I will always remember her by.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lessons

I will be in the Triangle (Chapel Hill/Raleigh) area for the next couple months and I will be running lessons for individuals and small groups. Contact me if you are interested!!! It should be fun!




Holiday Season

Since Thanksgiving, I've been on a holiday kick! I love this time of year and I love the fact that I can spend it at home with my family all month! Not only have I been super busy decorating (lots of DIY items!), but I've been working on my cooking/baking skills with some delicious holiday treats. Almost every evening has consisted of lighting my cinnamon apple candle, snuggled on the couch with a Christmas movie on TV. Elf has been watched 3 times already! Also, I've been so productive that pretty much all my Christmas gifts are bought and wrapped! Yes, it is only December 7th. haha... a bit ambitious, I know, but I can't help myself!!

Anyways, I wanted to get all of this done early so I have lots of time to enjoy it! But mostly so I can spend the rest of the holiday season doing what is most important. Spending time with family and giving back to the community! This weekend, I'm headed up the New Hampshire to visit my grandmother, uncle, and cousins!! I haven't seen them in a few years, so I'm super excited to see all of them!! Also, I'm planning a few trips to the children's hospital to spread some cheer with the kids! Maybe make some snowflakes and holiday treats! This is what really this time of year is all about! There is lots going on in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for all my adventures!



Christmas Trees!!

Homemade Wreath and Peppermint Tree
 

Treats at A Southern Season :)
 
Cookies I made:



AND a little hockey in the rain! :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Although it is one of my favorite holidays... (who doesn't love eating as much delicious food as they possibly can, sitting around with family, and watching football/napping all day!) ...I didn't get to spend Thanksgiving at home with my family this year. As some of you probably know (because you saw me there!), I was down in West Palm Beach, FL at Festival. (I know tough place to spend my holiday weekend). For those of you that don't know, Festival is a big tournament for high schoolers and middle schoolers in which most college coaches attend to watch and recruit. I attended Festival all four years of high school and this was the first time I have been back since!

The beautiful Florida weather drew me in from the moment I stepped off the airplane Wednesday afternoon. The main reason I was participating in this years Festival was to help with Dita, my amazing sponsor! They do so much for me throughout the whole year to make sure I have everything I need in order to be successful on the field. Not to mention the stick they made me just for the Olympics!! While I helped run the Dita tent for the weekend, I also signed autographs, had some great conversations with players and parents, saw lots of hockey people (coaches and players alike), and even got to play a little bit!

Overall, it was a great weekend! I had a blast playing with some old and new hockey friends! I enjoyed seeing all my hockey friends in one place! And I enjoyed hanging out with the Dita people, learning a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes with my sponsor!




In the Thanksgiving spirit, I must give a quick thanks to all those that have made so many things in my life possible.
I must first thank Dita for all they do! Helping out was the least I could do to give back for all they do for me. I had a great time with all those on staff and can't wait to help out again!
A big thank you to all those who bought my stick this weekend! You guys are awesome! I hope you enjoy it!! Because it is a pretty great stick! ;) [PS- It's still for sale online!!!]
Also, a big thanks to all those who came and chatted with me at the tent. I had a wonderful time meeting so many fantastic people. It's funny how field hockey is such a small community... we all know someone in common. Definitely some amazing hockey families out there who do so much for our sport and it's future! Can't wait to see some of your faces on the National Team one day! :)

I am grateful for my health and the opportunity to play the sport I love. Field hockey has given me so much over the years. This year's Festival really reminded me of that. I have made so many great friendships that will last a lifetime. I saw a lot of those great people in FL- including my college teammate/roommate: shout out to Liz! I saw many of the coaches who have guided me over the years and have led me to where I am today. And I played with and against some hockey friends, National Team teammates, and people who just love the game. To me, that is one of the best ways to enjoy the game! Plus, I got to play for Jack and Jill (a mixed team), with and against some of the guys... which if you know me at all, you know I loved! :) I always love a good challenge with players faster and (possibly) more skilled than I am. ;) haha....
I can't forget to give my gratitude to Momma Sandra and Maren for one of the most scrumptious Thanksgiving dinners I've ever had!! Along with all the great people I had the pleasure of spending the evening with! Quote of the night: #hashtag ! haha....!


The biggest thanks of all must go to my FAMILY. They support me no matter what. They make all things possible. Fortunately, I still got to see their beautiful faces (through Skype!) on Thanksgiving day and my Aunt even stayed until Tuesday so that I could see her when I got home! We Skyped with my cousins when I got home, as well. So I was still able to see lots of family this past week!


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend and had a little time to reflect on what they are truly thankful for. Just because Thanksgiving is over, we shouldn't forget it's importance throughout the year. If you are reading this right now, then you have a lot to be grateful for! Don't forget that! In the coming weeks, do everything you can to show the ones you love how much they mean to you, how thankful you are for them, and give back to those in need as much as you possible can!

What was your favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday?? What are you most thankful for? Anyone have a funny family story from the weekend? Let me know! Best responses will win a prize!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Beyond Sticks Clinic



This past weekend I ventured up to McLean, Virginia to coach a clinic with Beyond Sticks. My teammate, Claire Laubach, also joined me in coaching the 80+ girls that showed up! It was an amazing turnout and we had a great time!! I must start by thanking Chrissy Lewis, owner and coach at Beyond Sticks, for setting everything up for the amazing day of field hockey! Also, a big thank you to all the coaches who came out to lend a hand. Last but not least, the girls who showed up! Thank you for inspiring me and making the day so much fun!

I started off the day with a 2 mile run into the Capitol, stopping by the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the White House. The last time I was in DC for for our Olympic visit to the White House to meet the President! It definitely brought back some good memories! Being in the Capitol never ceases to amazes me. It is such a great reminder of what our country was founded on and it always makes me feel extremely patriotic. (Although I feel pretty patriotic most days anyways!) I also got to meet up with a high school friend for a little bit who lives and works in DC. That was fun too!

The biggest part of my day was the clinic though. I wasn't sure just how many girls would show up, but was amazed with the support we received! With over 80 players from 3rd grade up to high school seniors, I was impressed with their excitement and willingness to learn. Claire and I introduced them to some basic drills that we do with the National Team to give them an idea of what we do everyday. We wanted to give them a little taste of what it's like to be on the National Team for the day. After a day full of hockey, the girls got a chance to meet us and ask questions. Some good questions included what it takes to make the National Team, and what advice we give to young players hoping to be in our position one day. (Advice I give: work hard, never give up, believe in yourself, and have fun!) The best questions had to be who we met at the Olympics! (Including: If we met Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. They sure did love the swimmers!) After taking a few pictures and signing lots of autographs, we had a "chalk talk" with the coaches about National Team tactics. I enjoyed discussing strategies with the local coaches who will further shape these kids hockey futures. They were eager to learn what we do at the highest level, and I think that says a lot about how dedicated they are to giving back to the game and growing it at all levels. This is great for hockey in America!

I have coached camps, but never run a clinic like this before. I can't wait to do it again! I had such a great time thanks to these amazing girls. They inspire me to be better, as a role model and as a player! They are the future of USA Field Hockey, and I'm excited to see what the future holds!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the weekend! (All Clinic pictures credited to Jack Lewis.)

 

 
 


Monday, October 22, 2012

Ireland....

It has been almost 2 months since the close of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The American people have slowly put those breathtaking weeks in the back of their minds for new thoughts, such as MLB playoffs, the NFL season, and the upcoming Presidential Election that looms ever so near. The spirit and pride of the Red, White, and Blue has not been quickly forgotten by those who continue to wear it. Although many Olympic athletes have taken a break to recover their bodies and their minds post-Olympics, there are many others who have continued on their athletic journey, taking all the experiences from the Games with us in hopes of springboarding us to further success.


In all honesty, once the Games end, shortly thereafter, we begin to dream of the next event, the next game, the next Olympics. Whether you won Gold, or had no medals to bring home, our pure drive as elite athletes pushes us to want more, to better ourselves, our teammates, and our country.
USA Field Hockey returned to the pitch just a little over a month after the Games. It’s funny though, how much can change in a month. With a few players retired, a couple at new jobs, and a handful back in classes at various colleges, more than half of our Olympic team was unavailable for our upcoming tournament in Ireland. Fortunately, we have a fantastic pool of athletes to pull from, including multiple players that trained with us throughout the Olympic year and were extremely close contenders for the final Olympic roster. Not to mention, we had a few new players that were just waiting for their chance to step out on the big stage.

With a week of training camp before we headed overseas, I was very curious to see how this new mix of players would come together. Yet, I was extremely excited. There were fresh faces, along with old friends. We were reunited again, as a new team. What happened in London didn’t matter anymore, it was in the past. We had a new focus and a new excitement about us. From the first day, you could tell these were the players that loved the game, that wanted to be out on the field, and that were jumping at the opportunity to prove they were the future of our program.

We arrived just days before the tournament started and disappointingly lost our first game to Scotland. At this point, the tournament could have gone many different ways. We could have given up knowing that we just didn’t have our “full” roster present, or we could fight back and prove that we are Team USA, we’re talented, and we don’t have any excuses. We did just that. We roared back to win our pool, cross-overs, and land ourselves a ticket to the final. Although we fell short, losing to a well-groomed Australian side who had their full Olympic roster present, we were proud at what we proved in such a sort preparation period. There is a lot to be said about where our program is heading in the future. I am proud to be a part of Team USA. Although the road ahead won’t be easy, I know we’re prepared to face each obstacle head on. No excuses.




Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back on the hockey pitch...

It has now been over a month since I last picked up my stick at the Olympic Games. All of the emotions and excitement of the Games has slowly faded away. A few weeks ago, I began running again. (And by that I mean I began regimented workouts again, because really, I never stop running). Finally, a week ago, I picked up my stick again. Some thought it was too short of a break considering what we put our bodies through in the build up to the Games, others don't understand why the break was so long.

Nonetheless, there is reason for it all. For the break. For the continued hockey journey. For life to keep moving. As we depart for Ireland, our team looks a little different than it did on the blue turf in London. While we have almost half our team returning, we have some old and some new faces joining us. We are embarking on a new adventure, with a new squad, and new goals to be reached.

For those that followed us throughout the Olympics, you know what we've been through: triumph and defeat. But this is a new squad heading to the Champions Challenge and there are new obstacles to be faced, along with barriers to be broken. So don't count us out just yet; we have returned to proudly represent the red, white, and blue. Although I can't promise we will be the best team out there, I can promise that we will leave it all out on the field and give the best we have. We still have big goals and a lot to play for.

So as we head back across the pond, I am excited to see what this group can accomplish. One thing I am certain of: this group has nothing to lose and we're having fun along the way!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Inspired by one of the greatest: Jordan

Today I found myself inside trying to beat the heat of Palm Desert, California. I have started my roadtrip back to NC from San Diego, and my first stop has led me to meet up with a couple of friends from college. After searching through Netflix, we decided to watch ESPN's 30 for 30: Jordan Rides the Bus. Michael Jordan was one heck of an athlete and a truly inspiring individual.

Maybe it's my fault.
Maybe I led you to believe it was easy when it wasn't.
Maybe made you think my highlights started at the free throw line, and not in the gym.
Maybe I made you think that every shot I took was a game winner.
That my game was built on flash, and not fire.
Maybe it's my fault that that you didn't see that failure gave me strength;
That my pain gave my motivation.
Maybe I led you to believe that basketball was a God given gift, and not something I worked for... every single day of my life.
Maybe I destroyed the game.
Or maybe... your just making excuses.
-- Michael Jordan

It is always good to be reminded just how hard you have to work to make it look easy. Even at the top, you must constantly work hard, every single day. And you continue to play, win or lose, because of your love of the game. Purely for the love of the game.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Olympics...

I know it's been a while since I posted. I failed to do so during the whole Olympic Games! I was pretty busy though.... haha!

Here is a link to the New York Times Blogs that I did during the Games! I will be sure to post some more pictures and stories from the amazing experience of the 2012 Olympic Games!

http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/author/michelle-kasold/

I hope you've enjoyed watching the Games in all of their Glory!!

Thanks again for all of the support from family, friends, and fans. Everyone has been so amazing and encouraging. I'm proud to say that I an Olympian from the greatest country in the world, the United States of America!!

GO USA!!

PS- The excitement of the Games aren't over just yet! I hope everyone is gearing up to watch the 2012 Paralympic Games, also in London!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Back to Cali!

After a wonderful week at home with my family, I am headed back to California for our last 3 weeks of training before we head to London!!! I am so excited!! Our whole squad will finally be back together and our final preparation is here, at last! Stay tuned for all the excitement of the next few weeks!

In the meantime, check out the blog I did for the New York Times that recaps our games against Argentina last week in Virginia!!

http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/29/the-field-hockey-chronicles-a-warmup-with-some-fire/

GO USA!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Virginia!

Greetings from Old Dominion University! We have been in Virginia for almost a week now and have played 2 games against Argentina. These are our last matches before we compete in London this summer, so we are fine tuning some final skills and tactics.

The first match with the Argies was held in Charlottesville at UVA's blue turf. It was a fairly evenly matched game which ended in a 1-1 draw. It was our first game back as a team after National Championships and after a few practices under our belt as the Olympic team. It was a good performance and start for this 4 game series. I want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone at the University of Virginia! They did a wonderful job hosting us and we all loved playing on the amazing blue turf (which is good practice before London!). Also, another big thanks to all the fans that came out and cheered us on! I think that was the biggest crowd we've ever played in front of in the States (at least since I've been on the team) and it was AWESOME!! Keep that support going in the next couple months! :)

Our second game of the series was last night at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. The heat was really blazing yesterday, but we came out strong scoring 2 goals in the first half. Although we had quite a few more good scoring chances, we didn't find the back of the goal again, and finished the game on a 2-1 win. It's always good to get a W, especially against a top side like Argentina. We were happy to get the result, but know we still have a few more little tweaks to make in order to be at the top of our game. That's what these next two games and our last month of training is for: adjusting the little things.

We play again tonight at ODU for the third game of the series. It should be a little cooler at 8pm which will be nice! Our final game of the series will be at the Virginia Beach Sportscomplex at 1:30pm. Come out and watch if you are in the area!!! If you can't make it, it will be NATIONALLY TELEVISED on NBC Sports Network so you can catch us on TV! Exciting stuff!


Keep following and supporting us on our journey over the next couple months to LONDON! Also, I am writing a blog for the New York Times through until the Games!! Check out my first post here:
http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/the-field-hockey-chronicles-strength-in-numbers/

GO USA!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Olympics: London 2012

It is official! I will be heading to London this summer as a part of the US Hockey Team. It is an indescribable feeling. I have worked extremely hard to make it to this point, but I know there is still work to be done before we first step foot onto the blue "smurf turf" pitch in London.

I dreamed of this moment as a little girl. My first memory of the Olympics and all it's glory is from the Atlanta Olympics in '96. Those Games were so close to home and so inspiring for so many reasons. I vividly remember the US Women's Soccer Team winning the Gold in penalty kicks, their achievement inspiring me to do the same. To be able to play on the world's highest stage, but more importantly to represent your country is a dream come true. I've always gotten chills every time we hear the National Anthem played before games. Every single game I have played in the red, white, and blue uniform has been incredibly special to me. I am representing something bigger than myself; I not only represent my country, but those who have come before me who have so proudly worn it, and those who will inevitably come after me.

So although the Olympics only come around every 4 years, I have been training for this moment my whole life. I came up just shy 4 years ago and it has been a battle everyday to push even harder and make myself better. I must say though that I wouldn't have been able to get to this point without a lot of people's support. First and foremost: MY FAMILY. I cannot  thank them enough for every single thing they have done for me over the 25 years of my life. There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn't have made it here without their support. From driving me to practice, to traveling to away games, to keeping me fueled, to the encouraging words when I was down. They've been there through thick and thin, and I am so excited for them to share this Olympic journey with me!

I must also thank all of my coaches and teammates. They have pushed me to work harder and have taught me so much over the years. They have helped to shape the player that I am. And I must also thank my friends. I'd like to think I have the best ones around! ;) haha... but their support and companionship has also helped to keep me grounded and keep everything in perspective. When I have a rough day, they constantly remind me how lucky I am. So thanks for that!


With that being said, it's back to work we go!! There are 46 days left to go before the Opening Ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games in London! Please keep following and supporting my teammates and I as we venture to do what no US Hockey has done before: win GOLD.



Saturday, June 9, 2012

3rd place and Euro2012!

National Championships concluded yesterday and the South finished in 3rd place! We went into the semi-finals confident we could make the final, but facing a very strong side in New Jersey. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we were up for the challenge! The semi-final game was, in my opinion, one of the best games of the tournament. It was a fast-paced, high-level competition with good chances for both sides. We left everything on the field that night, but fell just short with a 2-1 loss. Disappointing of course not to make it back to final as we did last year, but we knew there was still one more game to be played, and win! We played the North yesterday (yes, North vs. South!) and called it the Civil War battle! On this occasion, there was a different outcome though: the South came out on top! (haha... please, no one get offended by this, all North vs. South comments are/were meant solely in jest in regards to our country's history and don't represent current cultural views). We finished strong with a 3-1 win and were all happy to go home on a win!

After the final (in which New Jersey won- congrats to them!) the National Squad for 2012-13 (and the Developmental Squad) was announced. The names announced included all of the names of the current 2011-12 team, but with a few additions! A big CONGRATS to Kelsey Kolojejchick, Alesha Widdall, Emily Wold, and Stephanie Fee!! There were lots of new Developmental Squad selections as well. It is a very exciting time for our program and it's future with lots of young talent.

Although it was a great week of hockey and National Championships is one of my favorite tournaments every year, we were all pretty happy the week was finally over. It was extremely fun, but it was a lot of hard work and quite stressful for most with selections on the line. I personally just couldn't wait to have a few more days with my family this week before we're back to our London focus. Plus, EURO 2012 started yesterday!!! For anyone who knows me, they know I love my soccer! And today especially, the Dutch play. And of course I had to pull out my Dutch gear from my year playing in Holland! So for the next couple days, I will be found working out, hanging out with my family, and sitting in front of the tv (probably yelling at the tv as well ;) haha) watching soccer!

Who do you think will win Euro2012??

But for today: #HupHollandHup

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

National Championships

We are over halfway through National Championships being held at the University of Maryland-College Park. Team South has found themselves a spot in the semi-finals!

We had a great start in our first two games over the weekend with commanding 4-2 and 3-0 wins over the Midwest and New England, respectively. This put us into a showdown with Pennsylvania to determine who would take the number 1 (vs. the number 2) seed in our pool. We came out strong creating chances early, but PA got on the board first. We continued to challenge their circle, but couldn't find the equalizer until the second half. Although we had an abundance of corners and shots on goal, we didn't find the back of the boards again, and PA found a way to put another in. Disappointed with a loss, we were still happy to be into the semi-finals. At this point, it is a new tournament with two games, in which you must win both.

Despite the fact that the games have been very exciting and lots of fun, I must say that the highlight of this tournament so far has to be Steph Fee teaching us that you can do the "Cotton Eye Joe" dance to any song! It has been fun challenging her to do it with a plethora of tunes. Including the many dance parties that have ensued from Katie Plyler's bright pink boombox.

Enjoy the dance party:


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

I hope everyone had a lovely Memorial Day Weekend, celebrating all the great men and women who have served this country and continue to do so every day. I also hope you had some fun!!

This past weekend was just what I needed! I got to spend the entire weekend with my family at the beach. It was my birthday on Saturday, too!! I never know where I'm going to be for my birthday anymore, so it was really nice to actually be home for it this year! Highlights of the weekend included: jetskiing, boating, wakeboarding, playing darts and bocce ball, live music by the water, watching lots of US Soccer :) and playing with my friend Sterling's new puppy Lona! Although there was lots to do, I got to spend a lot of down time just relaxing and catching up with my family. There really is nothing like a good couple days with them to put everything back into perspective. It's nice to be reminded that no matter what happens on the hockey field, they are always supporting me and just want me to be happy.

But of course I could only take a few days away from hockey since we have National Championships this coming week! I came back from the beach refreshed and ready to go. I had practice in Chapel Hill with my High Performance team (the South!) on Monday and Tuesday and the squad is looking pretty good this year for a run at the title! We fell short in the final last year, so we are looking to redeem ourselves this year with a Championship!!

It was nice being back in Chapel Hill for a few days as well. I always love coming back to my hometown. Although my parents are in the process of selling their house and I won't officially be a Chapel Hill resident anymore... I will always be a Chapel Hillian! :)

Anyways.... we're off to Maryland today. National Championships start tomorrow! The South takes on Midwest in our first match and it should be a good one! Stay tuned for updates!




Friday, May 25, 2012

Sweep

We arrived back in the States yesterday after finishing a quick 4 game series with Canada. Overall, it was a very successful tour. Besides sweeping the series (3-1, 4-1, 5-2, and 6-1 scorelines), we effectively improved in some detailed areas we had identified. There is still a little ways to go before we are fully prepared for London this summer, but we were happy with the steps we are taking forward.

Although we were only in Canada for six days, it was a fun little trip which even included a spa day on one of our off days! This was a first for us as a team, so BIG shout out to our team manager for setting that one up!! We all thoroughly enjoyed it! We all got a good laugh when the masseuses didn't quite understand what a deep tissue sports massage was. We are used to deep, painful massages to really flush out our muscles and the spa masseuses aren't used to give those type of massages. But to be honest, I quite enjoyed a massage where I wasn't cringing and on the verge of tears! Who would have thought massages could be so enjoyable! ;) haha...

Anyways, we flew back to the States yesterday and although it was a short tour everyone was ready to get home! This is the first time for many of us to be headed back to the East Coast all year. We are all dispersed to our High Performance sites for practice in prep for the National Championships next week, but for many of us, it means we are close to home! I personally haven't seen my family since New Years and for me, it couldn't come at better timing. As selection nears, these are the people who support us and keep us grounded, so it is important to have their reassurance and positive reinforcement at such a stressful time.

Not to mention, it is Memorial Day weekend. A weekend to celebrate all Americans who have lost their lives fighting for this great country which we get to so proudly wear the colors of every game. Without these brave men and women, we wouldn't have the freedom and opportunities to pursue our dreams. I am so thankful for those who have served and those who continue to do so. I am also thankful for all the families of these brave warriors. They truly understand what sacrifice is and I admire them for that. So I urge you to enjoy the weekend of festivities, but always remember the true meaning of the holiday, and be thankful for those who have allowed you to celebrate it.

So no matter what happens in the coming weeks, at the end of the day, we are all proud to be a part of the Red, White and Blue. That is something I will never forget.



I'll leave you with this poem I found. It's called, "You Musn't Quit".

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest! If you must-but never quit.
Life is queer, with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might of won if he'd stuck it out;
Stick to your task, though the pace seems slows-
You may succeed with one more blow.

Success is failure turned inside out-
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt-
And you may never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit-
It's when things seem worse that YOU MUSN'T QUIT.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh Canada...

Greetings from Canada!! Although I have been away from my blog for a little while (and around the world for that matter - a trip to Australia and New Zealand), I have found my way back to the world of words. This Olympic year has been tough, as any Olympic year will always be, but having gone through it before, I still could never anticipated the ups and downs that inevitably come along with it.

With that being said, I have some absolutely wonderful times along the way and have enjoyed the journey. Learning not only tons on the hockey pitch, but about my teammates and myself along the way. In the end, this is what it's truly about.

Despite all of this, the true time is now. Every moment of this journey counts. As the days quickly jump faster and faster towards the game, it seems like a high-speed train speeding towards the final destination: London 2012. But with just 70 days left, every day becomes more and more important to focus in on the details of the tasks that still need to be completed. And right now, our focus is on Canada. Although, they did not make the Games this year, they are a strong side that has put in a lot of training over the past year in hopes to qualify. So here we are, in Victoria, with beautiful scenery all around us, ready to put some final touches on our individual and team preparations.

It is a quick trip with 4 games in 6 days, but at least for once we didn't have to change timezones! :)

And I have to say I'm excited to face a fellow Demon Deacon on the pitch as well. Shout out to Anna... bring it on!!

Follow us this week and the rest of our Olympic prep on US field hockey, my blog, and of course (my favorite) twitter! @mkasold18

As always.... GO USA!


PS- Rachel Dawson was all packed and ready to go this morning as we arrived at 4:30am at the airport.... check it out!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Eat, sleep, play hockey (not in that order)

I know it has been a couple weeks since I last blogged. I've been trying to recover from everything we've been doing. The amount of hours (and intensity) we were training the week our guests coaches were here was double what we did the following week. So even though we tapered the volume and demand of our training, it still took us a while to fully recover.

With a trip to Spain approaching quickly, we wanted our bodies to be recovered and ready to perform in tip-top shape. This was not an easy task. Although our coaches plan our work outs to maximize this fact, we also must maintain the levels of fitness and strength we have gained during the hard working periods. On top of that, we had to assess the levels that we have reached. So to start our "taper" week, we ran the beep test and an agility test. Doesn't that sound like fun??

Though, the most important part of all our training often times is not the training itself. I know that may sound funny, but despite the fact that doing the work on the field and in the weight room is extremely tough, doing the work off the field is where we really reap the benefits of it all. What I mean by this is sleeping, eating right, and taking care of our bodies.

I am constantly asked if we have a particular diet we adhere to and I always laugh at the question because "diets" seem silly to me. In order to perform our best, we of course must put the right things into our bodies at the right time. We must intake the right number of calories, with proper proportions of carbs, proteins, and yes, even fats. But it is not an exact science and yes, we are still allowed to eat what we want. No, this doesn't mean a cheeseburger and fries every night because we definitely burned enough calories. But it does mean that if you want to have a cookie or a piece of chocolate every now and again, that is okay. (Although we just did a skin folds test this past week and maybe they will come back and tell us we are eating a few too many M&M's! haha).

Lately, I have been in the training room a lot as well. (Along with many of my other teammates!) Fortunately, there aren't any new major injuries on the team, but we all know at this level of competition the importance of not only taking care of our bodies post-practice, but before as well. Often you will see a handful of players using heat to warm up muscles before practice. You will see people getting taped, whether its ankles that roll easily or a nagging muscle that's just a bit tight. After trainings it gets even crazier. From rehab, to ice, to stim (which is short for Electrical Muscle Stimulation), to massages, ice baths, to (what we like to call) Magic Pants (they use air to compress the muscles in your leg). If your body isn't feeling good, it's hard to perform well on the field. I have to give a big shout out here to our trainer Katie who oversees all of our recovery needs and keeps us healthy and on the field!

Finally, I think the most important part of recovery is sleeping. Your body does a lot of it's rebuilding when you are asleep. If you are not getting the adequate amount of sleep, it can be very detrimental to training. If you have a hard couple of sessions and your body doesn't get the sleep/recovery time it needs, the next hard session can be damaging to your body instead of building on top of all the hard work you've already put in. Now with that being said, I am an expert sleeper! I love sleep! I get anywhere from 8-10 a night, preferably closer to 9 or 10 hours when I can. Lately, we've all been going to bed extra early (as long as we make it past 8pm then we say it is acceptable to go to sleep!) and napping during the day as well. We just can't help it either, we're tired. I think this is a sign saying our body needs all the time ir can get to repair and rebuild itself, in turn making us stronger!


So although we train hard, we rest even harder! Sorry to say that I don't have too many exciting stories of our adventures outside of hockey in the past couple weeks... but sometimes that just the way training goes.

And I haven't forgotten to mention Valentine's Day either! My roommates and I, along with Caroline, spent a fabulous dinner at the high-end burger joint called In-N-Out (yes, it's on our "diet"!). We even dressed up, all decked out in sweatpants and sweatshirts. I would have to say we all enjoyed our evening.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Guest Coaches and Superbowl

This past week has thrown us all out of wack! Our normal, weekly routine has been altered this week so that we have practice on the weekend. Not only are we sad about losing our weekend, we now have practice on Super Bowl Sunday!!

Let me take a step back and explain. Our coaches, Lee and Nick, headed down to the Champions Trophy this week. They went down to scout the top 8 ranked teams in the world, all of which (except one) are already qualified for the London Olympics this summer. So obviously, these teams are at their best for a top, world ranking tournament and will show much of what we will expect to see from them this summer. But of course practice must go on here in Chula Vista!

So Chris Clements, the Men's Head Coach, as well as Pam Bustin, a former National Team Assistant Coach, gladly stepped into the roll of coaches. Since Pam now coaches at Duke and is normally coaching all week (and I think so Lee and Nick missed the least amount of days with us), we moved practice to the weekend. We practiced normally Monday and Tuesday with our usual run on Wednesday, but then took Thursday off. We got back into it Friday, with practice today, and another tomorrow, in addition to a run Monday before we have off on Tuesday. A little confusing, I know, we had to double and triple check the schedule this week.

But we are happy to have Chris and Pam out helping with the team. They are both great coaches with a lot of knowledge for the game. It is nice to have some fresh faces with new insights to how our training is going, even if it is only for a few days. Big shout out to them and a big thanks for helping us in such an important training period!


Finally though, it is the SUPERBOWL!! One of the most anticipated and watched sporting events in America every year. Who doesn't love a good Superbowl party? Great food, exciting game, with even better company! Oh and who could forget, those ridiculous commercials that finally air! Whether you watch for the game or for the commercials, it is bound to be a good time! I have to say I am pulling for the Giants (my dad's favorite team), but the Patriots are looking pretty good lately! Who are you rooting for??

As long as you are rooting for the red, white, and blue, then I think you picked the right team!! ;)