Where am I?

Beautiful Auckland

This morning I woke up and had no idea where I was.  I know this is typical for someone who has just travelled, but today it took longer than usual to figure out my exact location.  Way too comfy to be on a plane.  At Rosie’s house in New Zealand?  The Airways Hotel in Papua New Guinea?  Betsy’s house in New Zealand?  No!  I am back in Malmo at the Scandic Hotel, where I began my Swedish adventure two weeks ago.  Let me take you through a quick recap:

My farewell present from the FCR girls...I was drenched from head to toe!

Just a few days before I was scheduled to leave Duisburg for Auckland, I got a call from LdB FC Malmo asking for my availability for the first part of the Swedish season.  It was a welcome call- my unforgettable time with FCR had come to an end, and with my inability to sign with a German team until July, I was once again without a team and without any games to prepare me for the Olympics.  My plan was to return home and train with the wonderful David Copeland-Smith (BEAST MODE!) while I regrouped and waited for my next New Zealand camp.  Now don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled about this prospect, and I couldn’t wait to be back in Pali with my family again.  But the opportunity to be on a team, explore a new city, learn a new language, and play in one of the world’s best leagues was something I could not pass up.  It just felt right.

Fast-forward a week, and I am already on the pitch in Malmo playing in the Supercup- an annual game to kick-off the new season that features a match between last season’s League Champions (us) and League Cup winners (Goteborg).  Christen Press plays for Goteborg, so I had the pleasure of seeing a friendly face, although most of the game was spent chasing her down!

Supercup Champs!

We came out winners in the 2-1 game, but my celebrations were brief because I was off to Auckland the next day!  So after three action-packed days in Malmo, it was time to move on.

Piha Beach

Copenhagen-Dubai-Brisbane-Auckland. Highlights: Staying with Rosie White and her family, feijoas, Piha beach, the new athlete’s lounge at Millennium Institute of Sport and Health, Olympic presentations, watching and critiquing the Hunger Games movie.

Auckland-Brisbane-Port Moresby. Highlights: 5-star Airways hotel,  laying by the pool, fresh fish and papaya, QUALIFYING FOR THE OLYMPICS!

Port Moresby-Brisbane-Auckland. Highlights: staying in Takapuna with Bex and Betsy’s family, running on the beach, picking out dream homes, swimming in the ocean, feijoas, tasting Vegemite (and liking it), Easter egg hunt.

I was only in Auckland for 15 hours before I found myself en route to Europe.  Although it was short, this was one of my favorite trips with the New Zealand team.  I’ve never been able to spend time with my teammates off the pitch, or really get to know their families.  It was a real treat.  I am looking forward to heading back down under in June for our games against China and Australia, although there won’t be any ocean swims in the cards that time of year.

The canal outside the hotel, lined with cafes and shops

Auckland-Sydney-Dubai-Copenhagen. So now that brings me back to Sweden, where my tan is already disappearing, and my jacket and scarf have been dug back up.  Until my apartment is furnished and stocked with food (impossible on Easter weekend), I am back at this hotel right in the heart of downtown Malmo.  It’s great to be back, and this time I get to stay awhile. We head to Goteborg tomorrow for the first game of the season…here goes nothing!

After our 7-0 win against PNG

PS: I have now seen Breaking Dawn part 1, Sherlock Holmes 2, The Three Musketeers, Tangled, Atlantis, I Don’t Know How She Does It, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, New Year’s Eve, In Time, Our Idiot Brother, and Hugo.  If you need a movie review, let me know.

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Oreos and Tacos

My fourth and final Duisburg game

Another eventful week has gone by, and I am packed and ready to move on to the next adventure.  I cannot say what that is yet, so I will focus on the last few days.

The beautiful weather that I had misinterpreted as the beginning of Spring quickly disappeared by Saturday afternoon. Friday afternoon a few of the girls and I enjoyed the last moments of warmth by sitting down for Oreo milkshakes at the cafe across from the training ground.  March 6th marked the 100th anniversary of Oreo, so I told the girls it was a very appropriate activity.

Gulli, Osti, Laura, and Kozue take me out for Oreo shakes

On Saturday morning I was able to get a run around the Regattabahn in before the rain started.  It was overcast, but there were tons of people walking, running, and doing the high ropes course that both parallels and crosses the water.  There is an inner and outer track on both sides of the water, and it is a really beautiful route.  I think it may be about 2-3 miles to go around once.

The Regattabahn

With the rest of the day free, I told Chris that I would like to cook for her family (and do laundry) at her house.  We searched for a recipe online (by googling easy chicken recipes), and decided on chicken tacos with roasted asparagus and rosemary garlic potatoes.  I wanted Chris to experience some delicious Mexican food, but if I am being honest she still hasn’t since this ended up being an AmeriGermanized version!  It was so nice to sit down with her mom, sister, and younger brother in their home.  Unfortunately, Matthias only liked the potatoes, so he had a potato taco.  A true German!  They have taken great care of me and I will miss them so much.

Cooking up a storm

The ladies of the house

Matthias and the potato taco

Sunday was game day, and the team took on Freiburg at home.  The girls were very unlucky and the score ended in a 2-2 draw.  Their race to the Champion’s League is not lost, however, because their biggest competitors, Frankfurt and Wolfsburg (tied for 3rd in the league), lost their games.  It will be a challenge to catch Potsdam, but if they can beat Wolfsburg this Sunday, there is no saying what can happen!  Later that evening Chris and I went to an awesome restaurant called La Baracca.  You order on a touchpad, so you can see what everything looks like, and the food is amazing.

"What you see is what you get" -Chris

 

It was finally back to training on Monday, and we had an intimate medium-intensity training session with the girls who did not play the full 90 on Sunday and three younger girls.  After a warm-up game of handball (Apparently that is universal!) and some passing drills, we got into 3 v 3s.  At first we were allowed unlimited touches on the ball, but very quickly the one touch restriction was put in place.  This was very challenging for me, especially when the grid size was increased.  Unless you know exactly where your teammates are and where you want to play the ball BEFORE you get it, you are in deep Scheiße.  These drills are so good for me, and this is just one example of how this environment will make me a better player.

Yesterday was a double-day, so there was not much time for exploring.  However, I did manage to purchase twenty packs of Oreos, and to say goodbye I hosted an Oreo party in the locker room after the evening training.  Chris helped me write a letter to the team in German (which she also had to read for me), so I could thank the team and coaches for everything and tell them that Becca and I sincerely hope to be teammates with them soon.  It was a sad day!  But tonight after I go to Frankfurt to watch Frankfurt play Malmo in the Champion’s League, Claudio, Chris, Laura, and some of the other girls will join me for dinner at La Baracca again (it’s THAT good).  So I don’t have to say all of my goodbyes quite yet.

Til next time…

Roadtrip!

The week before Becca and I arrived in Germany, the weather was so bad that many of the Bundesliga games were cancelled, including Duisburg’s game vs. Leipzig.  The game just happened to be rescheduled for Wednesday the 14th.  Why is … Continue reading