Today during our morning and afternoon training sessions, we advanced to 'group defending.' We played games in which the defenders had fewer players, which challenges us to be more compact, communicative, and essentially to become smarter players. Jerry referred to today's afternoon session as a mental practice more than a physical practice. He teaches that the smarter a player is the easier soccer becomes physically. We started group defending with three offensive players against two defenders and then proceeded to 5 vs. 3. Although today's training sessions were supposed to be more mental, I think we'd all agree that group defending is one of the most physically challenging topics to learn.
To promote more team bonding and unity amongst the new players and returning players, our coaches made up a complex "scavenger hunt" that took place at the Olympic Training Center. They picked six teams, each having four players, a team captain and a team name. Chardi's team name was "The Terminators" because she's one of the most intimidating players on our team; Kristi's team name was "Comedy Central" because apparently some people find her funny (I just don't get it); Tracy's team name was "ER" because she's just recently recovering from muscle injury; Leslie's team was "The Osborne's" in honor of the show on MTV; and Alyssa's team of feisty players was named was "Patton" after General Patton. All of us, being the competitors that we are, decide to sprint from clue to clue in order to win the prize for returning with all the clues to the finish. One of the few rules was that all team members must stay together at all times. So imagine groups of four girls sprinting crazily all over the massive training center. Of course the coaches picked locations as far apart as possible between each clue. Some of us thought that this "scavenger hunt" was some sort of undercover fitness test. We hustled from the cafeteria to the softball dugout, and then to the tennis courts, next to the Olympic torch, then all the way across to the soccer fields, then up to the field hockey field, and far down to the archery area, then back to the cafeteria. In case you didn't know, the training center lies on tons of huge, steep, treacherous hills that separate many of the fields and facilities. This "fun" and "simple" game turned into a 40-minute run up brush-covered hills, down long pathways, across marshy fields, over large rocks and up many stairs. The coaches ran into some "minor" issues setting up the clues in their proper places which caused us to essentially end the hunt in completely different places. Thus, there was no winner and no loser... this was at first hard to swallow because all of us literally ran until the sweat was soaking our shirts in order to win the prize. But once all the teams finally made it back to the cafeteria and started telling funny stories from our intense scavenger hunt, we quickly forgot the fact that no team won the race. Let's just say that it is very unfortunate that there wasn't a winner because I made a bet that if my team didn't win I would leave my full head of crazy and wavy hair down, out and free flowing from my usual ponytail at tomorrow's training session. This is a female soccer player's nightmare, so lucky me I guess! Today was a day to remember to say the least...
- Micaela #5