Monday, July 18, 2011

1 White Van, a Few burgers and a Helluva Motley Crew

With a squad session under our belt and lactic acid in our muscles, Olivia and her 'hornet' lead the way to the Blatchford house for a very necessary bite before the long(ish) journey to Boston. Though it was clear Mrs.
Blatchford had essentially bought out the entirety of Walmart's American flag collection, an aura of eagerness and pride was undoubtedly tangible as the team devoured burgers, or in Bean's case the cheese plate.
As we finished up dinner and managed to maneuver approximately 21 bags, 9 people and 1 megaphone into the dimensions of a white van ( in essence our batmobile) we waived goodbye and began our drive.

Now I've been on a few of these, well maybe a few more than a few and mind you we've always been traveling by plane so team mingling or journey experiencing is a foreign feeling to me, but we had the most wonderful and truly incredible thing flowing throughout the van. An air of ease, of comfortableness, of acceptance, of closeness that can only be described in one word TEAM penetrated through the entire vehicle.

Yes we had managed to take 7 completely different girls and become an entity where we could push each other and laugh with each other.

As we arrived at the Hyatt, and were eagerly greeted by offensive ten year old, Darien lacrosse boys we headed to the coaches room for an ''in the clouds' talk where we threw around ideas of team and country representation and then more important things like breakfast and Jack's addiction to team uniformity.

Though we risk things such as 'bodily injury, paralysis, and dismemberment' ( direct quotation from the liability waiver US Squash gave us to sign...) we are ready, ready to fight, ready to enjoy and ready to win.

Olivia Blatchford

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Prep for Worlds

After trials all six of us began the long journey that eventually led us here to Boston. Despite our busy school schedules, various graduations, and family obligations we were all hard at work with our personal coaches and trainers working on speed, explosiveness to the front, and of course, fitness. And even with all of that going on we all managed to make our way to our team training squads once or twice a week in Rye.

Peter Briggs (the head pro at the Apawamis club) generously allowed Team USA to use their facilities whenever we needed. At Apo Nat always pushed us to the limit on court and then sent us upstairs to the gym to work some more with Max (the gentle giant – Hulk man of a trainer.) Over the four months we could really see all of our work paying off.

One of Nat’s favorite exercises…the deathly 2,000 meter row was one example. Don’t try this at home people (in fact, I had my Dad try in the basement gym at the Heights Casino and he didn’t make it.) The goal is to row your butt off (literally) and get 2,000 meters in eights minutes or under. The first time we did this Nat said it will be hard but all of you will definitely be able to do it. We – as big-time, hot-shot athletes – strolled upstairs to the rowing machine and thought this would be easy. Bean’s first go took her upwards of 10:45…we had a long way to go and Natalie was not impressed. I still don’t know how she does it – but Liv (B) just keeps improving her time. She started at 9:30, worked her way down to 8:30, and two weeks ago got the best team time of 8:06! Go Liv (B)!

In my case I came to my first squad barely able to do three push-ups in a row…Nat had me doing push-ups every day (I liked to do them when I brushed my teeth every night so I always remembered.) Long story short – I’m now cranking out sets of 25. My shoulders don’t quite look like Amanda’s yet, but we can now do the same amount of push-ups!

Along with our weekly training squads in Rye, we have done a few overnight squads together as a team as well. We did an all American team squad in Hartford for a couple nights, a month ago, where we got some good sessions in with Gilly Lane, Julian Illingsworth and the entire American crew. It was a lot of fun to be able to all play together. We also did an overnight in Philly (we figured it was fair to Liv (F) and Jack that we all came down to them for once,) and the Fietcher’s were nice enough to host us all for the trip.

And throughout this whole intense training schedule the US Team was also doing various exhibition matches along to East Coast as good practice and to try and promote the World Juniors. We started off the matches when we lost 5-0 to the Heights Casino team out in Brooklyn Heights – the good news was we could only do better. Then the Apowamis team barely escaped with a win beating us 3-1 but Beans and I both lost in five-gamers that could have gone either way. We were happy, we had at least gotten one win under our belt as Amanda wiped the court with Manak Mathur securing our first match win. Next we went to Philly where we lost again 5-0 at the Germantown Club… Going into our last match at he New York Athletic Club we were looking for a win. Showing our teams depth, Sabrina, Liv (F), Julianne, and I won our matches and we ultimately beat them 4-2.

Early in July when the US found out that someone had pulled out of the individual draw and someone could enter to fill the gap – the team welcomed Julianne and she was able to join us for our last few squads and helped to secure our win at NYAC.

As you can see – we have put a lot of hard work in the past four months and we are so excited see it all pay off up in Boston! Thank you to all our personal coaches, all the players that helped get us ready and served as sparring partners, and to all the clubs that welcomed us and let us use their facilities to prepare. Hopefully we will see you all in Boston! Go Team USA!

Haley Mendez