Monday, January 2, 2012

2011: In Review


2012 is the year I have been working towards for a long time now. It is finally upon us and there is so much to look forward to!!! But first, I want to look back at all that 2011 had to offer because it was an amazing year in which I learned so much and experienced things I will never forget.

At the beginning of 2011, I returned to California for the first time since the previous summer and after spending my entire fall in Holland. I was very happy to be back playing with the National Team, with a successful 4 game series against Canada in January and two 4-nation tournaments in Argentina. The second 4-nation in Rosario, Arg. was a turning point for our team. We not only found a way to win games, we completely changed our attitude towards playing Argentina. Although it did not result in a win at the time, it gave us the confidence that we could beat them and the experience to know how we had to approach the game.

I flew directly from Argentina to Holland (well I did get to stop at home for one whole day!). For the next 2 months, I competed with HGC and took in as many sights as I could in the last weeks I had in such a wonderful country. My dad and brother even got a chance to come over and visit me for a few days! It was definitely an experience I will never forget, on and off the field. I want to thank all my teammates, coaches, and friends for all the fun, laughs, and learning experiences.

I had to miss the last few games of the season with HGC in order to return to the US Team for games against Japan towards the end of April. Once again I was happy to be back playing with my US teammates again. As much as I enjoyed Holland, there really is nothing like playing for your country.

Without much of a break, I headed back to Chapel Hill in May for High Performance Training with the South team. A week later, we were off to American University in our nations capitol to compete in National Championships. We went undefeated in competition, putting ourselves in the finals, and losing in a heartbreaker to New Jersey. We're going to be back on the rise in 2012 though, so watch out for us!!

Fortunately, I was re-named to the National Team and was also selected for the Champions Challenge in Dublin, Ireland. With only a week or so to train, we were in Ireland in no time. What a whirlwind of a tournament that was. Finishing 4th in pool play, then making the finals, and losing our lead to Japan in the waning minutes. Crushing really. But all part of our development and something we wouldn't soon forget.

After a little sight-seeing in Dublin, I made it home in time for some 4th of July celebrations (GO AMERICA!) and coached camp at my alma mater, Wake Forest. It's always nice being home to celebrate holidays with my family, as well as visiting my old stomping grounds and seeing my coaches and teammates again! GO DEACS! :)

With only 3 months left until the Pan Am Games, we returned to Chula Vista and hit the ground running. As you can see by my above schedule, I did not have a lot of down time the whole year. With my best interest in mind, this led my coaches to rest me during the August trip to Germany and Belgium. Although I was disappointed not to join my teammates (I never like missing trips), I agreed that going home to take a little more time off would be in my best interest in order to peak for the Pan Am Games. It was one of the most refreshing breaks I've ever had!

September arrived in no time, and so did the Kiwis! I was super excited for New Zealand to come play us in Chula Vista because a few of my teammates at HGC play for them, along with a few other Kiwis that played in Holland while I was there. NZ was a very skilled team and extremely speedy! I have a lot of respect for how hard they work. It was a good tune up for our last matches before Pan Ams.

After a few more weeks of training, we headed to Colorado Springs to do a little altitude training. This had its own challenges and obstacles, but we made the best of what we had and had a lot of fun! Spending a weekend in Breckenridge was definitely a highlight!

Days later, we were in Houston, TX for team processing and then on to Guadalajara, Mexico for the Pan Am Games. This was what we had been training for all year long. This was our time. We went through the tournament taking care of business and doing what we knew we had to in order to put ourselves into the finals. We did just that. The feeling of the final game was just amazing. We were so confident going in. We knew what needed to be done and I am so proud of my team for doing just that. As I said before, it was a team effort, by everyone on the field, as well as everyone at home. We qualified for the Olympics as Team USA.

The rest of the year seemed to fly by after this point. It was such a high for the year. I did make it home for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Our team also went to the NCAA Final Four to see the best of the best in our college system.

Traditionally, our team has December off from training, but with world ranked #4 Great Britain wanting to come play us in Chula Vista, we jumped back in to training in December. It was just the beginning to our Olympic training and it didn't take long to realize everything is going to be harder from here on out. We have to be able to play how we did in the final against Argentina for 8 games. There is still a lot of work and development to still be done. But we have the tools: coaches, players, capability. Which is exciting.

Two of my best friends from Chapel Hill came to visit me in California during our games against GB. It was so nice to be able to show them where I live, what I do everyday, and have some support on the sidelines!

I finally returned home for Christmas and New Years at home with my family and friends to end what has been a very long and exciting, but exhausting year. When I reflect on everything, the most important thing I realize is how very lucky I am. I am so very thankful for my family and friends who have supported me and allowed me to pursue my dreams. I'm healthy and doing what I love every day. 2012 is going to be the toughest yet, but it will all be worth it. I can't wait for all this year has in store. Please continue to follow and support me and my teammates as we strive to stand on top of the podium this summer in London!! GO USA!!

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