Sept. 7, 2007
I say to all the Blog readers, "Nihao!" ("Hello!")
Earlier today we traveled by plane to Chengdu - the site of our first two World Cup matches against North Korea and Sweden. When arriving in the baggage claim area, we were absolutely flooded with the press, TV crews, guards, and soccer fans. Never have I experienced such acclaim! I didn't think anyone even knew that we were at the airport. The security was very high and quite intimidating, since police with large guns (they looked like machine guns or rifles) were guarding us. Obviously, I am no gun expert, but at the same time we felt safe. Without the security assistance, boarding the bus would have been really difficult for Kristine Lilly who has been to three Olympic and five World Cup Tournaments with a record of 126 goals. She is certainly the Mia Hamm of the day! Kristine is one of the best players I have ever witnessed.
We have completed our training preparation, so our focus is solely on tactically beating North Korea - a team our coach Greg Ryan believes is one of the best in the world. They are extremely quick, great on the ball, athletic, and able to cover a lot of ground. Our hard physical practices now are being converted to intense mental training.
Some nerves are beginning to appear, as we anticipate our first game along with 30-40,000 fans in just a few days. The World Cup veterans assure us novices of the normalcy of such feelings.
Meanwhile, we seem to handle our nerves through Bingo games, dance routines, and practical jokes, of which I seem to be the primary target. These girls keep me young!
Several nights ago as I pulled back my covers to sleep, I found 40 empty plastic water bottles. The following night the yellow plastic free kick dummy rested its head on my pillow! Each player handles anxiety differently. I journal, blog, e-mail family and friends, call my husband, and co-edit the USA HORRAH (a humorous newspaper that includes pictures and stories intended only for team distribution and reading only!)
My next writing will be September 12 - the day after our first BIG game! I hope all of you will be up super early and watching on ESPN on Sept. 11. We are the United States Women's National Team! We are ready!!
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