Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kayla Joins the Century Club

Kayla Bashore saw the large bouquet of beautiful flowers when she stepped off the team bus at the Club de Campo Hockey Club in Cordoba, Argentina. When she came to Argentina last week, she knew she was in the 90s; but upon seeing the flowers, she realized tonight was her night – tonight, she was to join the Century Club.

Teammate, and good friend, Lauren Crandall walked up to Bashore, gave her a squeeze, and offered her congratulations. It was then that Bashore, more casually known as KB, was overcome with the significance of the night.

Emotion overwhelmed her as her mind traveled back to a time 5 years prior.

The scene was similar. There was a buzz of excitement in the air; loud Spanish music pumped vibrantly through the venue – the light of day was giving way to the darkness of night as the stadium lights shun upon the reason for the gathering, the green hockey pitch. A roaring, enthusiastic, and patriotic Argentine crowd filled the stands in eager anticipation of the match between Argentina and the USA.

Twenty-one year old Kayla Bashore heard the announcer call her name. She felt her heart swell with pride as she listened to the National Anthem. She felt for the first time the exhilaration of representing the United States of America in a foreign land.

Now, travel five years forward in time, 373 km down the road from Rosario to Cordoba, and you will find Kayla Bashore in a remarkably similar situation. Only now, the twenty-six year old Bashore, wearing her lucky number #26 is about 99 games more experienced.

In her first 100 games for the USA, the 5’4, fast-footed center midfielder has established herself as one of the team’s most premier and dominating players.

“Its amazing to see the progression, both with the team and within myself, in 100 career caps. It seems like just yesterday I was playing in my first matches against Argentina,” Bashore reflects. “Its funny though, it doesn’t matter if its your first game, your 26th or your 100th; that feeling you get when you put on the uniform and hear the anthem never changes.”

Bashore admits that she felt a heightened sense of emotion on February 16th, the evening of her 100th game for the USA. But that is understandable for the passionate, hard-working, detail-oriented yet laid-back Bashore. When asked to describe herself, she said with a grin, “I am a bit of an oxymoron. I find myself being extremely laid back in a lot of situations, but when it comes to ‘work mode’ I can be quite Type A.”

Maybe, though, her personality isn’t as much of an oxymoron as it is a testament to her detail-focused perspective on life. The Korean born hockeyer came to the USA when she was 3 months old, and spent her youth in the small Pennsylvania town of Shoemakersville.

In 2001, Bashore was a member of the first-ever recruiting class in the history of the Indiana University Field Hockey program. When she arrived in Bloomington, the team was composed of mostly club players.

“You should have seen us that first year. I was extremely realistic about our team and our capabilities. I never set goals; instead, I focused on the process – on the details of preparation knowing that when the opportunity presented itself, I would be fully prepared to take advantage of it.”

That opportunity presented itself in Kayla’s senior hockey season when her Hoosiers earned (for the first time in Indiana history) a bid to the 2005 NCAA Tournament and faced the historically strong University of North Carolina Tar Heels.

Bashore’s Hoosiers fought brilliantly and fiercely in the match (I can attest because I was on the field for UNC). Despite being out shot by the Tar Heels, Indiana capitalized on their opportunities, and advanced to the NCAA second round with a heroic 1-0 victory.

To Bashore, this was an exhilarating success: “That was our National Championship –from where we came from in my first year to where we got in my final season – that is what I consider progress and success.”

Bashore feels empowered by the perspective her experience at Indiana gave her. She employs this perspective as she travels a similar road of upward progress with the USA.

“I don’t focus on what lies too far ahead of me. I don’t get lost in setting goals or a having distant vision of success. I keep my focus on the details – how I warm-up for games and trainings, how I prepare myself, how I recover, how I spend my free time on weekends, how I fuel my body, etc.”

When speaking about her USA team, she says: “We have all the pieces to accomplish great things. But honestly, I don’t know where we will end up; but I do know that if I take care of all the details along the way, we will end up where we are meant to be.”

And with all her details covered, Bashore has ended up exactly where she is meant to be, a member of the Century Club.


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