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    Wrapping Up the Experience of a Lifetime

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    Northwestern junior field hockey member Nikki Parsley wraps up her experience playing for the United States at the Four Nations Tournament in New Zealand.


    Since my last game in New Zealand, I have spent over 24 hours traveling, taken three flights, and slept only eight hours in the last two nights combined.  The good news is: I am finally home in Evanston.  


    But, before I said my final farewell to Kiwiland and since my last blog, we wrapped up the second Four Nations tournament.  During our seventh game of the trip we played Argentina again. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, which qualified us for the bronze medal game against Korea. Previously we had beaten them 2-1 and lost 4-1. 


    In my opinion, this was the most exciting game of the tournament for us. Not only did we end up winning 1-0, but we were finally able to execute the majority of our pregame plan. Throughout the eight games, we spent countless hours talking about adjustments we needed to make on and off the field in order to produce more wins. It was amazing to see all of the time spent watching film and studying our opponent's pay off, because hard work does not always guarantee success. However, throughout each game we made significant improvements, and by the end of the tour we finished better than we started.


    Over the last few days, I have had a lot of time to talk with others and privately reminisce on my first tour with the National team. I have determined that even if I had time to write a book, I could not properly articulate the uniqueness of my trip. This is most likely due to the wide array of emotions I felt on a daily, and sometimes hourly basis. I have never experienced so many highs and lows in such a short amount of time. Additionally, having the chance to turn one of my lifelong dreams (i.e. competing for my country) into reality is still a bit surreal.


    Much like other tours I have went on, it has been somewhat difficult to make the transition back into "regular" life. Even though I am unbelievably excited to be home and surrounded by my best friends and teammates again, I often find myself sidetracked by thoughts of the trip. Because this tour has the potential to greatly impact my future, it is easy to overanalyze the experience. Consequently, my current challenge is to put my blinders on and move full speed ahead, trusting that I left everything on the field in New Zealand.


    "I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." -Philippians 3: 12-14

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