I have finally had some time to reminisce on my three whirlwind weeks of the World Cup.
What. An. Experience.
The tournament was located in The Hague, known as the “city of hockey.” The title fits the town with flying colors (mainly orange). The venue consisted of two stadiums to accommodate the tournament schedules for both the men and women. “Kyocera Stadion” was the featured stadium seating up to 20,000 fans, and the smaller stadium seated roughly 700. To put my career into perspective for you, before this tournament I held 39 “caps.” One cap is equivalent to one game of international play. Yes, that means you can step on the field in your country’s colors, run around like a chicken with your head cut off, be pulled out of the game within 2 minutes, and still get 1 cherished cap. Everyone experiences about 10-20 of those before nerves are controlled and experience kicks in. To that point I had only really performed in front of 700 fans at one time so I had to say, “Go Big or Go Home” with the 20,000 person stadium.
“Let’s Celebrate Hockey” was the main catch phrase for the World Cup, complete with a memorable jingle that still gets stuck in my head. I love the idea, but it seemed that we (the players) were left out of the celebrating. Between the pitches you were immersed into a hockey fan’s paradise. Tents upon Tents lined up with merchandise, beer, wine, food, music, and dance floors. People were smiling, dancing, laughing, watching, and talking about hockey for three weeks straight sun up to sun down. And you should know that the sun doesn’t even really set until 1130pm and rises about 4am.
We entered the tournament in 10th place and, although we felt the hardware slip through our fingers, our heads were held high returning home with a 4th place finish. “USA field hockey is back on the map.” This statement means more than just the mere fact that other countries cant take us lightly on the field anymore. This is the climax for what is to come. Getting to this point was the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. Im not sure if any of you reading this have suffered from plantar fasciitis, but I have been battling this nagging pain on top of a heel bruise and tendonitis in my toes since November. This isn’t meant to be a sob story for you, but I really wish my job included sick days. But at this level, one day off is one step behind your best. So management has been the key, including roughly 1-2 hours of extra time spent warming up, stretching, strengthening, ultra sound and Graston (you athletes know what Im talking about). We have about a month of rest before we take our journey another step further leading into 2015. We will jump back on the two a day session train along with lifting and conditioning to maintain our position on the map and excel beyond our current rank in the World.
More to Come.