Wednesday, April 14, 2010
On Easter Sunday a 7.2 earthquake rocked Baja, Mexico; a few miles away in Chula Vista, California, the reverberations shook the home of six women who had gathered with their teammates, friends, and family to celebrate the holiday.
To these six women the powerful Baja quake seemed like an aftershock - an aftershock to the shattering blow that reality had delivered a day prior to their dream of proving themselves as world contenders in their sport.
Reality stung. They had failed in their conquest. They lost the game.
Two tectonic plates shifted against each other – the tectonic plates of incongruous dreams and realities. And the result was that the ground trembled beneath their feet as the sturdiness of their dream was compensated.
Would the dream buckle under the duress?
Like that home in Chula Vista, they swayed and shook, but in the end, they remained in place. They did not crumble. Because the structure of their dream had been built, like most Californian homes, to withstand the duress of an earthquake.
Now, after a week and a half, the major aftershocks of the quake have subsided. And the time has come to re-assess, re-analyze, reinforce, and where needed, reformulate.
The duress of the quake revealed the weaknesses and inefficiencies of their foundation. Crucial changes would be absolutely necessary to re-strengthen this foundation – and only from a properly re-solidified fortress would growth become possible.
And trust me, as one of those six women who experienced the quake, the aftershock phase has not been easy. While the major, blunt aftershocks have ended, the subtle minor ones continue to creep upon me at the most un-threatening time. These aftershocks force me to scrutinize the deficiencies both me and my country face in the sport of hockey.
Sometimes I wish I could live in ignorance of these deficiencies - in the blissful, excuse-making ignorance of my shortcomings. But the truth is, I will never experience the sporting reality I want, if I don’t confront these weaknesses. So if I, and we, choose to carry forward in pursuit of our dream, we must be completely honest with ourselves.
That is why, in the days after the quake, I scheduled my flight to return to Holland to finish the 2010 competition with the Hockey Club Klein Switzerland.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to return. I was tired, disappointed, and angry. And the last thing I could imagine was going back to Holland to face the reality that America was just not good enough to make it to the World Cup. This reality starkly contrasted against the reality of how good the Dutch are, and how strong the Hockey infrastructure (club system) is in Holland.
My mom would say, this is a character builder. I don’t know if this built my character or defined it. But I knew I needed to go back to Holland. And now that I am here, I know I made the right decision. But it hasn’t been easy.
In my first match back, my side, who is still in the hunt for the last playoff spot, beat OZ (Orange Black) 4-2. After the final whistle, exhausted from the battle and my travels, I walked numbly off the field. I went straight into the club’s change room, and sat on my bench. As my chest folded over my legs, my eyes filled with tears. One thought came to mind - I wish I could have helped the USA get this result a week earlier.
The artist in me loves the poetic justice of the situation. I guess this is life. This is sport. And the song will go on, as long as we play on.
Monday, April 5, 2010
I wanted to say Thank you to my sister Hannah for contributing this great piece. Writing must be a family skill because she has composed such a beautiful, funny, and thoughtful piece.
At first, I didn't want to post this on my blog, but blog's are all about sharing, and I want to share with you my sister's moving words. Thank you so much, Hannah.
(Note - as the owner of this blog, I have given my commentary IN CAPS on Hannah's words)
BY HANNAH DAWSON
(Couldn’t think of a catchy title)
Walking into practice, I hear the voice of one of my coaches, “Hey did you hear about Rachel?” In my mind I’m running through the list of sisters, Natalie, Sarah, Rachel. Okay so I keep thinking what is so special about Rachel that I didn’t know? Still I am thinking, her birthday isn’t until August; she’s single (ANY INTERESTED TAKERS??), so she’s not engaged or expecting for that matter. Time ran out, my coach’s voice started pouring out with enthusiasm, “She got her 100th cap yesterday verse Canada and scored two goals!” I mean I knew this, but why didn’t I remember (MAYBE B/C YOUR MIND RACES EVEN FASTER THAN YOU TALK)? I really felt like a horrible sister (THIS BLOG MAKES UP FOR IT).
I am not sure if anyone knows the “real” Rachel, sometimes I don’t think she knows herself (HAHA - YOU HAVE A POINT). When she sits behind her blog she is a writer. When she’s behind her camera she’s an artist. When she is in the classroom, she is a business major. When she is on the field, she is a hockey player. So who really is Rachel?
Although if there is one thing consistent in Rachel’s life it’s that she’s a competitor. She was the only girl allowed to play wiffleball on holidays with all of the men in the family. She challenged her older brothers in football throws and batting practice in the back yard. She helped out in the family business, landscaping, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, etc (DON'T FORGET DRIVING THE BATCO & PICKUPS). Rach soon earned the name “Ray.(AT LEAST YOU DIDN'T TELL THEM ABOUT MY NICKNAME BOOM)” Through middle school you even caught Rach wearing her brothers clothes (SARAH DID TOO), she now jokes around that she was the third boy.
Once high school hit, Rachel became someone different. Before leaving the house, she at least looked in the mirror ten times. Her brown curly hair bounced off her shoulders with a splash of make-up (THANKS FOR MAKING MY FRO SOUND GLAM). However, Rachel always kept quiet (THATS B/C YOU WERE ALWAYS TALKING). She didn’t really say much, she didn’t have too. She left everything she felt on the court and the field. What she did out there substituted for everything she might’ve wanted to say. She was relentless, tenacious, and gritty, but within her eager fight she remained graceful, fluent, and elegant. These two opposite feelings clustered together explain everything there is to know about Rachel Dawson (SHE IS A CONTRADICTION?).
Rachel is all about being pro-active instead of reacting (BECAUSE I KNOW I DON'T REACT WELL WHEN THINGS DON'T GO THE WAY I INTENDED). She takes problems head first instead of trying to get around them. She does not hide, she seeks (LOVE THE PLAY ON WORDS HANNAH). She encounters life('S) struggles and hardships with a smile. She strives on challenges and feeds off upbeat energy. And in each and every scenario, Rachel finishes on top (HAHA) with no regrets because she knows she has given every piece of herself to that particular moment to make the best of it and due to those efforts, whether it’s receiving an A in a statistics (WHICH I ACTUALLY GOT AN A MINUS IN) class or loosing to Korea in the world cup qualifying match, she does not bow her head instead she looks up for the next challenge that awaits her.
If there is one thing she has taught me in the game of field hockey, which has carried over to the game of life it is, “the girl or the ball.” Which is true about Rachel, this little saying coincides with her everyday life also. (IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY???) There is nothing that’s going to stop her from getting what she wants. Whether it’s that A in her class or the win in any match, she will push, pull, shove, and kick for what she wants until she has it.
So when Rachel is ready to unplug her computer, close her camera, shut her books, and hang her jersey all up for good, she will look back to all of what she’s done and not have an ounce of regret.
This 100th cap is something she will always be proud about and recognize as a great accomplishment, but right now it’s about what and how her team and herself will do to become number one in the world (HOW WILL WE RESPOND??). To many it sounds like a far-reaching goal, but to Rach, it’s just another days hard work on the field.
I may be the terrible sister for forgetting such a milestone in Rachel’s life, and I will probably forget the next one too (AT LEAST YOU ARE HONEST). However, I will always remember how Rachel got to that moment, how she herself has become such an astonishing person that sometimes, no most of the time, she doesn’t even know it herself. (NOW I KNOW IT SISTER, THANKS!!)
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The USA had just tied Korea 2-2 in the fourth game of the World Cup Qualifier. Despite the physical exhaustion of the hard fought battle, an energetic buzz pervaded the air as the team waited, in anticipation, for Lee Bodimeade to conclude a post-game interview.
Purveying the scene, some distinguishable things stuck out - a bottle of wine, a blue Tiffany’s bag, a bouquet of flowers, and a collage of smiles directed toward one special teammate.
The team was eager to celebrate the milestone achievement of their teammate, and friend, Sara “Betty” Silvetti, who in her resilient, determined and cheery manner had earned her 100th Cap wearing the Red, White, and Blue.
And as they waited, Betty shared the joy of the celebration, entertaining her teammates while posing with her massive vase of flowers. And in that action, the essence of Betty’s presence on Team USA is understood.
Sara Silvetti is the ultimate team player. Genuine, trusted, willing and able, she possesses an irrepressible glow that emanates from her and shines on those around her.
When I asked Maren Ford to describe Sara, she said:
“Sara is flexible. She can be anywhere and do anything. On the field and off the field, she is multi-dimensional. She can play any position or role. She does whatever is asked of her – willingly and ably. On and off the field – she performs her role with a laugh and smile.”
It is this flexibility described by Ford that makes Betty such an incredible asset on the field to the USA program. In the beginning of her career, the young Silvetti played the highly-pressurized center-midfield position. Then, during the 2005 World Cup Qualifier in Rome, Italy, Sara was called upon to play right half-back, a new position for the midfielder. Yet, undaunted by the change, she performed her new responsibility brilliantly.
After spending the last three years of her career in the midfield and backfield, this year, Betty was called upon to perform a new role – on the forward line. Again, she transitioned into her new role with seamless simplicity.
Most inspiring about Betty’s journey, is that the road to 100 has not always been easy. She has persisted through broken jaws, changing positions, different roles, and missed teams. And yet, despite the bumps along the way, Sarah has remained a continual, positive and consistent force within the team.
With disciplined resilience (and a smile), Sara has continually strived to better herself and those around her. So yesterday, it was an honor to celebrate the individual achievement of a teammate who had given so much more to her team and country then 100 games.
So as Betty opened her Tiffiany’s box, and the gleam of a shiny-jeweled necklace peaked out – I thought to myself, how appropriate for the girl whose smile and laugh has shun upon us all.