On Saturday August 5, 2017, under a huge full moon, the U.S. Women’s National Team played Mexico in their opener of the Pan Am Cup at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, PA. As the Women’s National Team USA is ranked #4 in the world, many people expected that the U.S. would a win against #31 ranked Mexico. The USA put on a show scoring six times while not allowing any of Mexico’s shots to cross the goal line. Kat Sharkey shined by scoring three of the team’s six goals while the others were scored by Ali Froede (twice) and Jill Witmer (once).
The game was definitely exciting to watch as a USA fan. However, the best part for me was after the game when I interviewed three of the U.S. National Team players. First was Jackie Briggs, who is the starting goalie for the National Team. As a goalie myself, I was fulfilling one of my dreams by interviewing her. I then spoke with Michelle Vittese, who is a starting midfielder for the National Team who, along with Jackie, competed in the Rio Olympics. Lastly, I interviewed midfielder, Amanda Magadan. This was especially exciting because she had played on the same club team that I currently play with, and this is her first year on the National Team.
Who was an inspiration to you when you were younger?
Jackie: “ I really looked up to Amy Tran and she was the goalie on the national team … she was still on the national team when I joined in 2010, so it was ‘kinda cool that I got to play alongside my idol.”
When you’re preparing for a game what goes through your head?
Michelle: “We’ve been working a lot on our mental flexibility so you’re not rigid and only stay in one mind set, so I try to calm myself down, be positive in my thoughts, give myself positive affirmations and to focus on my skills and what I’m good at.”
How do you feel you played in this game?
Michelle: “Today I felt a bit off. I felt like in the beginning of the game we were not as sharp as I would’ve liked to be … but I think we did a really good job in the third and fourth quarter to bring our effort and turn it back up. Personally, I’m a perfectionist so every game, no matter the score, no matter how hard I played, I’ll always have information to give myself.”
How do you feel playing club impacted how you play?
Amanda: “Besides working on my skills with Victor and Victor (the coaches for Rapid Fire Elite), some things they focused on that I really benefited from were work rate, giving the ball and leading ahead. These have really helped my skill set and I think are some of the reaseons why I’m on the national team.”
What’s the best part about playing on an international level?
Amanda: “My goal in field hockey was always just to be the best player I can be because everyone has different skill sets. So one thing that really stands out is that by being around athletes who are being their best, it helps pull me up to my full potential and that’s really exciting for me because without them I couldn’t do it.”
What’s one piece of advice you would tell a young player?
Jackie: “The biggest thing for me is that you have to enjoy playing because if it’s stressful and it’s not enjoyable, there’s no point in doing it, so I always try to have fun. I’m twenty nine years old, and I’m still learning things so there’s never going to be a point in your life where you’re done learning.”
Amanda: “Work hard and believe in yourself. Sometimes it’s hard when you think you don’t have the skill set. I went through that in every single stage and someone in each stage believed in me, so I wish I had believed a little more in myself. If you believe in yourself and work hard you can do anything.”
Interviewing the players helped me learn how to be the best player I can be and I will definitely pass on the information they gave me to others!
Josie Ashton, age 13, is a rising eighth grade field hockey player at Chatham Middle School, Chatham, N.J. She is also a member of the Chatham FHC, her town’s youth rec program, as well as Rapid Fire Elite FHC. Ashton is a goalkeeper with a passion for the game. She was the first to volunteer to suit up in goalie pads when her team took turns in the net — and has never looked back. Ashton’s passion for writing, particularly about sports, sparked her interest in the Philafieldhockey Young Journalist Program. Ashton was selected, along with Sydney Lippe (whose article will appear tomorrow), to report on Team USA in the Women’s Pan American Cup.
photo credit: Yan Huckendubler, Pan America Hockey Federation
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