Archive for April, 2009
This is the latest of my guest blog posts for the Lacrosse World Cup site.
‘Eye of the storm’ was a temporary title for this post, and though definitely too naff to actually use, it is entirely descriptive of the moment. The last few weeks have been a master class in keeping one’s cool in the middle of the storm of the century. There has been so much to think about, prepare for, keep up with, remember, create, report on, cross your fingers for, save for, and be excited about – whilst all at the same time not letting oneself combust resulting in wiped disks (like a frazzled computer). I’m still here though, so I’m afraid I’ve rather ruined the suspense – you’ll forgive me.
As I type I’m sitting in a packed out, old school Volvo with four fellow Scots, 10 lacrosse sticks, some Haribo Tangfastics and at least one pair of crossed legs with their owner keenly eyeing the ‘next service station in X miles’ signposts. With dwindling battery power I’m wondering where to start, and am thinking I should probably just go with where I left off: Selection.
It’s a hard nut to crack, this one, because whilst those selected were obviously elated and very emotional, there were a number of our friends who had emotions of entirely different descriptions. It was a period of flux and some very difficult phone calls of condolence were made, but ultimately those left behind knew that they had to get over their feelings of torn loyalties, guilt perhaps, and realign with the team – the new team. A few weeks later at a training weekend up in Edinburgh this new team voted on our captains and I felt that this ‘last piece of the jigsaw’ was the final jolt we all needed to finally push back into gear. Though the decision was hard, Julia Rennie (Midfield) and Clare Anderson (Defence) are the new captains, and with 4 World Cups between them we’re in safe hands.
Clare Anderson (l), Julia Rennie (r)
One person conspicuous in her absence from recent training weekends has been Katelyn Hoffman, our defence coach. No, before you ask, she wasn’t dropped from the squad, instead she fell… down some stairs in some teetering high heels and dislocated her shoulder! Not a miniature disaster at all – I need her to warm me up!! You are sorely missed Katelyn, and though you’re probably still high on drugs from your recent operation, your shoddy attendance record is being noted so you’d better get back on your feet sharpish! Get Well Soon (from all in this here Liverpool bound Volvo).
Speaking of Liverpool bound, though I started writing this on our way up to the Home Internationals, I didn’t quite finish it, and I am now back in the same Volvo (though thankfully with only three fellow Scots – Cosh is headed North instead), on our way back to London after an absolutely storming three days of international lacrosse. The news has probably already filtered through, but my proud Scots played the game of the season and defeated the Welsh 6 to 4 in an absolutely ecstatic win for third place. We walked away with a gleaming silver trophy and 18 gleaming smiles (plus the blubbering coaching staff). This weekend we really came together as a team, bouncing back from a defeat by England A on Saturday, onto a nail bitingly close loss against the England B team (7-5), and headed into the Welsh match with (in our minds) a win already on the horizon. It is an incredible feeling (winning) – and not one that I wish to become a distant memory ;)
One of the most interesting ‘wins’ of the weekend was how our preparation had been spot on, so we’ll definitely be learning from this. Fitness is one thing, but we’d also been playing close attention to our competition’s ‘moves’ in the games prior to ours. Our coaching staff had been out scouting for us at the tournament, but we’d been going at it a little while longer than that. In fact, here’s a photo of Hannah, Andy, and Boxer at the Home Internationals where we did a bit of scouting ourselves.
Knowing what’s coming gives you a little bit more confidence, and goes a long way towards building an unshakeable defence. Recognising the call for a move you already have sussed out is actually surprisingly satisfying – and doing a bit of decoding on the old hand signals – it’s all about who’s got their head screwed on the right way. Unfortunately when England put some of those moves into play, we just didn’t respond enough as a unit – but don’t worry, we’re working on it.
Speaking of unit, a couple of weeks ago we were all childish with excitement at taking delivery of our first ever Scotland branded lacrosse sticks. Dipped to delight somewhere in America and kindly organised by our captain Clare – the sticks look awesome – and what a unit we will look once we’ve all got them worn in and working. I used mine this weekend and it’s literally heads and shoulders above my last stick (which was illegal… shhh ;) and it also happens to make a cracking throw (which has come in handy).
Here they are, snazzy huh?
Our kit is also coming along nicely, and we’ve also got a new logo (which, like all great icons of design, has already gained a nickname: ‘the hot cross bun’) and we love it.
Mind you, all this kit business is damned exhausting, particularly for those on the kit committee. Justine, our manager, has been doing a storming job and though I’m not sure she knows this but she’s become quite famous for her regular e-mails with ‘THIS NEEDS TO BE DONE YESTERDAY’ in the first line. She’s whipping us into action! Some of you may have spotted our new fundraising T-shirts that were on sale at the Home Internationals. I know a few Czechs bought some, so hopefully Prague’ll be getting jealous and we’ll sell out on the first day of the World Cup. If anyone is interested in getting their hands on one, do e-mail me: jem [at] garthwaite.eu and I’ll wing one your way.
Here’s the fabulous Jodie modelling them. We’ll be getting some done as racer backs too, with the flags going down the back. I hope you like them (and I hope you buy them too – we’re all broke!).
So where do we go from this fantastic weekend? Well, tonight we’re going to Clare’s house for one (“with a meal”) glorious alcoholic drink after what feels like months sober on the orders of our coaching staff (I’d better be damn skinny after all this tea total business. Plus my granny was not impressed to see me turn down her relentless offerings on Easter day!). And tomorrow… we’ll probably be back at Battersea track, which has become an old friend.
Our beloved track
The staff there constantly complain about how loud we are, but let’s be honest, who expects five girls buzzing with endorphins from a sprint session to do weights and core in silence?! Gossiping is half the fun! We’ve really got into our rhythm down in London, and I know that it’s much harder for our team mates who don’t live near another training buddy. Luckily everyone’s been pulling their weight and the general fitness of the team has soared, with a few individuals making massive gains. I think everyone noticed the Scots outrunning their competition, and seeing that only drives us on more.
Summer has come:
First Ice-cream of the summer
Thankfully the clocks went forward recently, which means that when we meet after work at 7pm (if we can get there on time, avoiding the G20 protesters), we now have time to do an hour on the track with still enough daylight left for some stick work before heading inside for weights and core in the gym.
A view of the Thames river from Battersea Park
In two weekends we have a fitness test, and ominously the spreadsheet our coaching staff sent us says ‘Pass or Fail’ on it, so I think everyone’s feeling the pressure rather! Loving it though, and so chuffed to be seeing my throw go further, and to find myself surprisingly not out of breath after a run. Even more satisfying though, is watching my team mates totally wipe out the opposition with their sprints, with Suzie in particular running past about 50 people this weekend. Such fun to watch from back in goal! Bonus ;)
So, more of the same I suppose – Just better ;) What fun this weekend, and to think that the next time we play those teams will be at the World Cup. All I can say is, BRING IT ON!