Your mom is a World Champ. :)
Well, in a roundabout way. I didn't shed one drop of sweat or have to apply on the field what was discussed. I didn't have to make sure my hydration and nutrition and sleep and mentality and guts were all in check. But I felt as if I was on that field with every touch of the ball, with every run and most definitely with every save.
To watch our team COMPETE in every sense of the word was inspiring. To watch the skill and composure in an environment that is foreign to our players compared to our European foes: their WC Qualifications are 18 months long. Many of the foreign players are professional playing in some of the best pro-leagues in the world. Our players are club players, playing in tournaments that last a weekend, or in college playing a 20 - 26 game season with limited training hours mandated by the NCAA. However, when it comes to rolling up the sleeves, enjoying the challenge and competing, we seemed as if we were the veterans. A team of veterans, watching each other's back, trusting each others decisions and simply going for it. That is "Sport" at its best.
|Jaime Frias, Janet Rayfield, April Heinrichs, Amy Griffin, Steve Swanson|
A few of the many lessons the players and staff taught me.
1) You don't ever have to be perfect or have your best game, but you can always be extraordinary.
2) Sleep is overrated and coffee is like oxygen....that is for the staff!
3) When every person does all they can all of the time success is attainable.
4) Cohesiveness all of the time, good and bad, is key.
5) There is comfort and confidence in being prepared.
The celebration. A few months ago when the team qualified in Panama, the celebration was... kind of a dud. Out on the field individuals wandered around staring at sad Canadians and feeling relieved they had won aimlessly wondering, "what do we do now?" It wasn't until the ceremony was over, the trophy had been lifted and we finally straggled back to the locker room with our inner circle of people that a slight celebration broke out. The looks on their faces seemed to say, "Is it okay if we shout?"
Slowly but surely the crescendo of happiness became apparent, but in my book... still very lame.
The bonds, the trust, the teamwork the love that had formed and been worked at over the year stood out to me and was just as tangible as the World Cup Trophy. By the time the stretching and ice baths and post game rituals ended we did not arrive back into the hotel until close to 11:00 PM. On the bus ride back, windows were rolled down for pedestrians to hear, "Hey Tokyo!!!! We are World Champs!" An exhausted, drained, content team sat happily and ate their last dinner at the hotel. No more mandatory chicken, salmon, rice, veggies, fruit, yogurt, or peanut butter as the "go to" 2nd option. Tomorrow we would pack, turn in uniforms check out and head to a karaoke place where we had rented a room to eat dinner and sing to our hearts content before boarding the plane.
Remembering that sitting down at dinner with the family is a treat and sitting on the bench at a game is a great place to be and a privilege. Thanks for helping me keep my sanity Ben and Nick. Sitting and writing this has been my "deep breath" and helping me keep things in perspective. You get out of life what you put into it and if you put everything into it... please, please celebrate!