[THE PITCH] On October 1st, I woke up in the morning and my first thought was, "Rabbit rabbit." ...
In college, one of my friends held firmly to the superstition that if the first thing you say on the first day of the month is, “Rabbit Rabbit”, good luck would ensue for the next 30 days. I woke up on that fateful morning wondering what I wanted out of my final month here in Gothenburg… other than some really good luck! J
Reading through my blogs this year, I've noticed a trend. Perhaps life is simply a series of second chances; cycles of learning opportunities, during which you attempt, fail, and attempt again. For me it seems that everyday is a restart.
The second half of the season has been a restart of its own sort. After six weeks of summer break, four players left and two players came, the team returned almost unrecognizable. While the first half of our season was an emotional and qualitative roller coaster of brilliant soccer and epic wins, followed by unnecessary and unacceptable defeats, August and September have been a steady production of victories (8-0-1). As Torbjörn (my head coach) put it, before we had moments where we played the best soccer of any team he had ever coached... and moments of the worst. Now, we are playing just good enough to win each game. But that's a victory in its own right.
It's really a remarkable story! It seemed like a loss when a few of or core players left and our roster shrunk to a mere 15—but we turned it into a gain. The small number actually allowed us to form a tighter group with a new attitude: a winner’s mentality. I am very much proud of that. Proud of what we've been through as a team over the last seven months and what we've accomplished.
Still, somehow, this part of my journey has been the most challenging. Perhaps as we near the end of the season, I am restless as I come closer to realizing what I set out to accomplish, but also potentially missing those marks. Perhaps after the thrills of the Olympics, I'm anxiously waiting to hear about my future with the US national team. Perhaps it is the added stress of deciding what to do with 2013 after such an amazing 2012... But whatever it is, when I woke up the morning of October 1st. I knew it was time for yet another restart.
And that's where my baby sister Channing swooped down to save the day in the form of a "Healthy living challenge" proposal. In her own personal quest for joy and living to 120-years-old, she proposed that my two sisters and I begin a ‘course’ toward enlightenment. Since we Press women are all seasoned meditators, the first part was merely a rabbit rabbit restart to recommit to our daily Vedic sessions. The second part was a pledge to do 20 minutes to an hour of yoga four times a week. The fun part is that we would all “compete” to see who is the most dedicated Press sister… and we all know I like a little sisterly competition! Restart? Bring it on!
On the pitch, ‘restarts’ are those important moments after the whistle blows, when the game just begins to pick back up. With the right tools, these interruptions can be turned into successful restarts and result in goals. The same principles can be applied to make a successful restart both on and off the field. The keys are quite simple, very specific, and somewhat subtle.
First, you have to tune in…in meditation and in Yoga you tune into yourself and in football you must tune into the game. In both cases you have to be aware of what’s happened and alert to what is about to happen. Second, you have to take care of the small stuff to achieve the big stuff. Focus on the little details like breathing in yoga. Restarts in football call for savvy play, including quick organization (as in marking and setting the wall), starting quickly on offense, or deterring quick restarts on defense. Third, you must live/act in the moment. A staple of meditation and yoga, staying present is imperative for success in football as free kicks and throw-ins are not the time to lament errant play. Forth, and last, you have to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity to restart. This seems obvious but it surprising how many of these opportunities go wasted because the person or team failed to recognize the significance of the moment.
While it may appear from the outside that the year was mostly smooth sailing from the “I'm-going-to-Sweden?!?” turn around, it actually was a constant struggle for happiness; an everyday battle for success and contentment; endless failing and endless pushing and endlessly wanting more. It has been a good fight: a battle to stay positive, keep the faith, and find my own happiness.
But the nice part is that I'm not fighting to find a "happy place" where I no longer have to work for my joy. Because the effort it takes to achieve anything and everything is what gives it it's value. More eloquently stated by Pele, "The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning."
[Stoppage Time] This past week we had two big games. Sunday was our Derby match versus fellow Gothenburg team Jitex. There is a lot of history between the clubs and it’s definitely the fiercest rivalry I've been a part of. After a 0-3 to 3-3 comeback tie last game, there seemed to be even more to prove this time around. But with first and second place out of reach, Damallsvenskan has taken a clear backseat to our other fall goals. Right now, our top priority is Champions League.
Wednesday, we played the return leg of the Champions League Round of 32. After scraping out a 1-0 win away, our team knew we had to take care of business. It was our 4th game in two weeks, but we looked very much forward to playing on our home field. Valhalla's perfect turf is a much better fit for our possession-oriented style of play.
Both games had added incentive to win. And both games, we knew we were the better football team. As my high school fitness coach Ed Daniels liked to say, "our best is good enough..." But being the better team and being the better team on a given day our two separate feats entirely.
So how do you prepare for high stakes games that you should win? We knew both teams would try to turn the game into a physical battle, since physicality is their strength. So it was or job to dictate the play and let the ball do the work. That was the intention and the execution. We continued our win-streak to seven games!
On the other hand, this week we play the leagues top two teams. Malmö in league and Tyresö for the Cup final; the latter being our priority. Preparing for these games has been entirely different in that we know that we have to bring both quality soccer and an additional bite to take down Sweden's top dogs!
Kopparbergs Göteborg FC 3 – Jitex BX 1