Saturday, July 28, 2007
The next few days were a bit of a blur, as we travelled north for our next match against Manawatu. The bus ride to the ferry was long, but absolutely beautiful. We actually stopped on the way to do some seal-watching and have a bit of a run around. Finally we ended up at the ferry to the north island...to be continued
Thursday, July 26, 2007
That’s where the staff announced that there’d be mandatory ice baths in the freezing cold swimming pool outside. Wow. Not my forte.
It was of course hellaciously cold, but we passed the time singing away and for some reason I went up to my neck. The bath proved to be a great choice though because now I feel a lot more mobile than I did right after practice. Again dinner was amazing and Kate was crazy about bread while Tess was cracking up the whole time at Tanya and Shoddy’s shenanigans. The jersey ceremony followed that and Barb really emphasized possession and point of contact…definitely two things to remember tomorrow. I got jersey #20, which is really exciting because if I’m flanking, I really want to come off the bench and make a positive impact…and charge the team with positive energy by making that amazing tackle/run…it’s going to be awesome.
I’M IN NEW ZEALAND!!! Wow, this trip is going to be amazing. So on Saturday I got up super early after not going to bed until 3am because I procrastinated on packing and other tasks. I rode up with my coach Nate for our Sunsplash 7’s at Belmont Shore…we started the tourney a little slow, but picked up and ended with good communication and dangerous offense that helped us win all four games and take home the trophy (which was a sailboat…weird). The team was celebrating in appropriate rugby fashion with flip cup and pitchers all around (which I was watching with glass of water in hand) and I headed out to LAX for my flight to NZ!
Meeting the team for the first time was really exciting, and everyone was and is amped about this tour. We played a bit of a scavenger hunt to learn more about each other and hopped on our looooong flight to Aukland. I’m actually writing this with some intense jet lag leftover from getting to Christchurch this morning…so if there are any glaring grammatical problems sorry. Anyway, the long flight was actually ok…but I slept less than I thought I would. After only sleeping 3 hours the night before I thought I’d pass out immediately, but that wasn’t the case. Being the chatter that I am, I talked for a while and read my book for a few hours before finally falling asleep. I woke up 6 hours later at about 3am New Zealand time, which bodes well for acclimating, watched the movie 300 and some rugby, ate some interesting plane food and rolled out into the Aukland airport. Then we had to catch a shuttle to our next flight, and the greatest thing happened on the shuttle over to the plane. We were all crammed in the back of this bus just chatting and joking around…and after making several off-color comments and ridiculous jokes, this man sitting a bit away from us busts out laughing like he’d been holding it in forever…it was so great to just see this guy cracking up over us. And of course this was hilarious to us the the back of the bus erupted in laughter. Seeing that written down its really not that funny, but a lot of this might be some “had to be there” stuff.
On to the flight. Unfortunately, our flight to Christchurch was delayed for quite a while to wait for some peoples luggage (apparently not our teammates’ luggage though b/c 3 girls’ luggage got lost!). When we finally arrived in Christchurch, everyone was ecstatic to get off the plane. Then we put on our USA gear and rolled out as a team, but not before I got to see my SISTER!!! She lives near Christchurch and met me at the airport. So exciting!!! She told me she was bringing some fans to watch our game on Wednesday, so that is pretty amazing.
The morning in Cbristchurch was absolutely gorgeous. It was crisp, cool and sunny and we met our tour guide bus driver, Murray, who tells us interesting tidbits about everything New Zealand. It was so funny to hear on the bus how everyone would be chatting and he’d start on a bit about some random building built in 1816 and everyone would be quiet and listen like it was story time…I love it. So we drove to the hotel, which is completely bomb, and got our rooms/roommate assignments. My roommate is awesome, and after being with the team all day, I’m pretty sure everyone is awesome. We stayed at the hotel for a bit for breakfast, which really reminded me of Ireland, with rashers and sausages, complete with our American reactions to Marmite (Vegemite) on toast and generally being very excited about the cereal selection. Just a quick note: a lot of my entries might revolve around food. This is not an accident. It’s pretty much my favorite part of every day (besides the rugby)…but anyway. So after breakfast, we cleaned up and went on a short tour of the Christchurch area via the giant tour bus. It is absolutely beautiful here, and we met this really cool girls club from England at the view point who thought we were scary and hoped we weren’t their opposition (I was definitely stoked about that!) and had a chat with them, took some pictures and carried on with our sightseeing antics.
After the tour, we trained at a nearby park. The weather could not have been better, and everyone was very happy to be moving around and getting ready to play rugby. It’s exciting to see everyone we’re going to be playing with….it’s unbelievable how many talented people are on this team!
After training we had some down-time to shower and take a walk to City Centre. Our group headed to the Gas station for some candy, New Zealand dollars, and phone cards. We then were on an Ill-fated quest to find free Wi-Fi somewhere in the city. This lead us, in a roundabout way, to a snowboard shop in which we chatted to the locals about rugby in Colorado and by association our little story. That’s when they suggested that we stop by the radio station next door and give Christchurch a holler over the waves. So we headed there just having a bit of an adventure and chatted with the receptionist about rugby and whatnot, and she totally gave us a bunch of free stuff and wished us luck in our games!!! I’m getting a very good impression of Kiwis…the ones we’ve met so far have been very welcoming and friendly. After leaving the radio station with foreign Tang, Listerine, and muffin bars in tow, we walked what seemed like a billion miles to the Centre and the only Starbucks in the world without free Wi-Fi and the rugby shop. We then trekked back to the hotel in time for dinner and got changed into our USA stuff.
Dinner was pretty much amazing. I’ve been shuffling in and out of different groups to get to know the people on the team as well as possible, and dinner was especially amazing. We had to wait at first and thus played the name game to use the time…it was a bit more challenging than it should have been for a bunch of hungry, tired, and jet-lagged ruggers, but it ended abruptly with my qualifying factor being “starving”. My table was pretty much amazing and we were spouting off movie quotes, announcing our love of competitive eating, and laughing uncontrollably throughout dinner. There were a couple of close calls of soup shooting out of the nose for sure.
After dinner we had a team meeting and got the rest of our fabulous USA gear, which is completely amazing. I feel like its Christmas!! And at 7:30 in the evening here we were ready to pass out….I’m lasting longer than a few east coasters but they had a whole other flight all the way to LA before the 15-hour marathon flight to New Zealand from LA…lucky me.
Tomorrow will be a training day, and we have our first match the day after that. Wow, that’s quick. I really think this team has good things in store though. I just can’t wait to play rugby!!!! I’ll talk soon.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Friday was the first day of camp, and I was surprised to find that there were only about 20 people there to train. While at first this seemed to be a bad thing, I later realized that it meant much more personal attention from coaches who see so many details about positioning, technique, and form in set pieces and open play. As you can imagine, this was a very humbling camp...every drill we did, the coaching staff broke down what we were doing wrong, what we were supposed to be doing and how to fix it. I really think everyone who was there agrees that any rugby player from rookie up to eagles can improve their game in so many ways. After the first day of camp, I headed back to the city, grabbed a sandwich and headed over to some other friends' house for dessert.
Monday, July 16, 2007
KooGa, the official apparel supplier of USA Rugby, is offering a rugbygear fundraiser to help support the U-23 Women's National Team's tour to New Zealand. To make a purchase in support, go to www.teamkooga.com. During the payment section of the checkout process, enter the following coupon or promotional Code: U23women. Be sure toenter to this code, without it KooGa will not know that the order is a part of the U-23 fundraising efforts. This offer is good for anything on the website.
I'll be posting about Alex Williams Rugby camp and my trip to San Francisco soon...
Thursday, July 12, 2007
USA Women's National U-23 Team Prepare for 2007 New Zealand Tour BOULDER, Colo. -
The USA Women's National U-23 Team announced the squad for a two week long New Zealand Tour, which they will be departing for in late July. The tour will consist of three games in cities on both the country's South and North Islands.The team will begin the tour with a match against Burnside Rugby Football Club Women's Team in Christchurch on Wednesday, July 25. The second match will be in Palmerston North against the Manawatu Club on Saturday, July 28. The New Zealand tour will conclude with a final game in Auckland on August 4. "It's important for us to take these kinds of trips, because the standard of play we're aiming for is not set by domestic US competitions. It is set in places like New Zealand and England right now, so we have to go," said Head Coach Barbara Fugate. "These players will meet a new level of physical intensity and skill, and we hope that each of them will bring some of that back. This kind of tour can be a career-changing experience if the players take full advantage of it."
In addition to playing against world class competition, the members of the U-23 squad will have a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend an evening with Farah Palmer, who captained the New Zealand Black Ferns at the last two Women's Rugby World Cups. Also on the itinerary for their two weeks abroad is the New Zealand Domestic Women's Club Championship in Auckland on Saturday, August 4, which the U-23 women will be attending."We are very excited about this group of 28 players," Fugate added. "This is a young and extremely athletic team. It is a little bit seasoned in spite of the youth, because it includes many former USA U-19 players who already have some overseas tour experience."
The U-23 squad for the 2007 New Zealand Tour is as follows: Kirsten Ahrendt (Dartmouth), Tonya Ansel (Sr. MN Mankato), Amber Benlian (Maryland Women), Libby Berg (MN Valkyries), Phoebe Boone (UCSB), Sylvia Braaten (Chicago Northshore), Emilie Bydwell (Brown Univ.), Kate Daley (Penn State Univ.), Kassie Drey (Univ of No Iowa), Sydney Forestal (UNM), Dani Goodman-Levy (Vassar), Kelly Griffin (UCLA), Brea Hughes (Texas A&M), Tess Kohanski (Syracuse), Kristy Lear (U of MN), Tara McBride (Cal State Chico), Schmarrah McCarthy (Purdue), Kati McCormick (Kettle Moraine), Tiffany McCoy (Univ of No Iowa), Jillion Potter (UNM), Naima Reddick (Cal State Chico), Elaine Schlarb (Oregon State Univ.), Jess Travers (UIC), Emily Tunney (Philadelphia Women), Shaina Turley (San Diego Surfers), Krissy Vargas (Cal State Chico), Sheri Villa (American Univ.) and Sarah Wilson (Ohio St).
Accompanying the players will be a staff of six, including: Barbara Fugate, head coach; Martha Daines, assistant coach; Susan Whitwell, assistant coach; Annemarie Henning, program manager; Teresa Tucker, team manager; and Nicole Titmas, athletic trainer.
If you would like to support the U-23 Women's New Zealand tour, please visit the Support USA Rugby webpage and select "U23 women" in the dropdown menu to designate the U-23 Women's National Team as the recipient. If you make a donation of $100 or more, you will receive a photo of the team on tour in a scenic New Zealand location when the team returns.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Today is Wednesday...Wednesday's a packing day. But really, today was gorgeous here by the beach, not that it usually isn't but extra beautiful because I only worked from 7-12. So, I got a bunch of stuff done and I even get to go to 7's practice tonight, which is always awesome.
From here on out, everything is just getting more exciting by the minute. Tomorrow, I'm driving up to San Francisco for Alex William's rugby camp, which is supposed to be amazing. Check it out here:
This should be a great opportunity to iron out some fundamentals, get in rugby mode (as if that ever needs to happen), and learn some new positional techniques before heading off to New Zealand. I'm also taking the scenic road back and stopping at some friends houses, so it'll be nice to see some people I haven't seen in a while. Hopefully I'll get out any kinks in my game this weekend, so I start the tour fresh and practiced next weekend.
Well, I'm off to play some 7's and soak up some more of this sun...hope you have a wonderful day!
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Mostly this just adds up to working at one of my two jobs every day, but about 3 days a week I work the dreaded double and still try to fit in training. It's amazing how much you can fit into a day when you have the idea of 3 weeks of rugby in New Zealand as a motivator. So I wake up at 5am, and do the running portion of the workout, go to Harry's cafe slingin' hash from 7am-3pm, return to the lovely Ocean Beach Hotel until 11:30pm, when I leave to work out my frustration in the gym until about 1am (if the day requires a lifting workout). Thankfully, my doubles don't happen in a row, so it's doable because I usually only work 8 hours the following day. And when I have normal days, life is pretty good, especially since our training program rocks (especially Speed +, ; ) ) and I get to practice 7s with the Surfers every now and then.
Because this schedule seems a little insane, it actually got me thinking of what my teammates were doing to raise the money for the trip or what ruggers have done in the past to come up with the dough to go on tour. If you have any interesting tidbits, feel free to leave a comment. I love that so many people sacrifice so much for the sport they love...what awesome people!!!
It actually just hit me today that I have two weeks to get my stuff together and leave San Diego for winter in the Southern Hemisphere. My stepsister actually lives in Christchurch and said it was going to be pretty chilly there around this time, so I guess I'll have to pack more than my San Diego wardrobe has to offer. A shopping trip is in order in the next week for sure. I'll let you know how that goes.
As far as the tour goes, I have received a lot of positive feedback from donors, friends, and regulars over at Harry's Coffee Shop about women's rugby. Actually, I have one customer (an 85-year old woman at that) who said she wished they had rugby when she was in school. Ha! I love it! I'll send her message on to the team here...she said "You girls give 'em hell".
That's all for now, and if anyone would like to donate to our team, just click on the USA rugby link and go to "Support USA Rugby" under Women-U23.
Thank you so much to the donors as of 7/8/07:
PS: Thanks for the shout outs from Saturday's a Rugby Day, A Ride on the K-Train, and the Scrumhalf Connection! Check out their sites for info about the new Territorial Union season and Midwest/Marfu/West happenings...