I love opening weekend because no matter the outcome of the games, it is always easy to have a positive outlook. Situation one: we win; so then we know all of our hard work in preseason has paid off and we started the season off on the right foot. Situation two: we lose; so then we use that disappointment and anger to make us work harder and never let that happen again.
For the opening weekend of the 2011 season, we started the season off with a perfect 4-0 win against Kent State and another 4-0 win against Miami of Ohio. For our first weekend at home, we beat VCU 2-1 and then dropped a heart-breaker to No. 17 Albany. Although we lost to Albany, all of the hard work that we put in over the past eight months and the tough two weeks of preseason paid off and we are going to use the disappointment from that loss to fuel our fire when we practice this week.
We are facing away games against No. 1 Maryland as well as American, so next weekend is going to be very tough! Since we started off on such a high note, I am sure you are all dying to know the secrets of the Wildcats preseason practices, and luckily for you I am going to let you in on a few.
After practice once a week, our team now has a private yoga instructor that comes to the field after practice and leads us through many stretches that we never knew we were capable of. And some stretches that many of us still, and will probably never, be capable of! It was quite enjoyable to watch my teammates and coaches struggle through some difficult poses, while watching in amazement as Claire Thompson, a fellow senior, bent her body in half and then in half again.
From cold tubs to playing alongside Lake Michigan, GGB's (Green Gatorade Bottle) to sprinklers that water the field before practice, our team interacts with water quite a bit on a daily basis. Catherine Franklin, a sophomore midfielder, even decided to break her old habits and take the occasional shower. But this preseason, our coaches have added pool recovery workouts to our repertoire. We stretched, kicked, jumped, and had a relay race with the kickboards. It was the upperclassmen against the underclassmen, and of course the seniors and juniors won. Everyone enjoyed the pool, it served as a great way to cool down after practice without freezing your legs off in the cold tub.
Every so often, Tracey Fuchs (our head coach and two-time Olympian, no big deal) invites the team over to her house for a home cooked meal. We all load up our plates with baked ziti and Olive Garden breadsticks. We also voted on our team's mantra, which is always competitive. We were broken up into four teams to come up with a mantra for the 2011 season. The final vote went to "Do-WIT", although Haters Gon' Hate came in a close second.
Pedway Tour of Chicago:
For a team building activity this preseason, our coaches took us downtown Chicago to get the infamous Pedway Tour. No, I did not mean to say Segway, although it would have been awesome to see our team wheeling around Chicago on those things. Unfortunately our coaches do not trust us that much, and that is probably for a good reason. The Pedway System of Chicago is composed of very convenient indoor walkways that not many Chicagoans know about. Although it turned out to be a not so glamorous tour of food courts and L stop stations, we learned a lot about the history of Chicago and now have a way to get around Chicago when this gorgeous weather becomes just a little bit colder during the winter.
Although it sounds like we had a lot of fun during preseason, we also worked hard- and it paid off. After countless double days, the 3-1 start to our season couldn't have felt any better. Stay tuned next week to hear about our trip to the University of Maryland, my hometown, where we will be playing some field hockey and having a crab feast at my house! In the mean time, check out our Facebook page at www.facebook/northwesternfieldhockey and Twitter (@NUFH2011) where I will be live tweeting the games!