Oct. 1, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. -
Last Monday (the 21st) was the first day of school. It is safe to say that last week was a change of pace for us all. Instead of sitting in our dorm rooms all day watching episodes of different TV series, hanging out with teammates and the civilians (non-athletes) that have invaded our campus or making runs to IKEA and Target for dorm supplies, we sat in classrooms where we received our syllabi for the quarter. I personally stared at the assignment page of each class syllabus for a long time wondering how I was ever going to write a paper again or read the 40-page chapters in my psychology books. But even though we all groaned at the thought of school starting, most of us are excited to be back in the classroom and reunited with the rest of the students and faculty on campus.
I must say that I love to bike out to the practice field when school starts because nothing beats seeing the faces of 26 of your close friends after you have been separated for about 20 hours. I am being completely serious here. The transition from seeing all of your teammates nearly all day every day to seeing them once a day for about three hours is not an easy one, especially when the team this year is so close. Practices recently have begun with hugs, games of Ninja (a.k.a. balance and leg strengthening exercises), and flashing lights (used for our ACL prevention program), only to be followed by small goal/big goal games where target play is emphasized, and many practices have ended with 11 v. 11 games (and sometimes surprise fitness tests). And last week was also really hot! My favorite day of practice last week was the day we played the "Wall Game" and made teams based on how sweaty people were -- it was team sweaty vs. team not-as-sweaty. Of course the sweaty team won, and Paul would say that was the case because people who sweat more work harder! Right, Paul?!
Overall, last week was a week of learning both on and off the field. The game against St. Mary's College was a big learning experience for the team. One of the biggest lessons learned was that we cannot take any team for granted. Every team we play this year wants to beat us badly because we went to the Final Four last year and we are one of the highest ranked teams in the nation this year. St. Mary's College played us hard in the game on Sunday, and we did not play with our usual mentality until the second half, so the game ended up being a close one. But one of the coolest things about the game was that we fought hard and found a way to score, and we continued to fight when we had to play a player down later in the second half (due to a questionable call by the referee). That's one of the many things that I love about this team -- that we always find a way.