As everyone knows, it won’t be long before the 2016 Olympic Games begin. Having attended three (the most recent in Sydney in 2000) I can say for certainty that the televised version is absolutely nothing like being there. But even though we will miss them again this year (another destination calls), we managed to get a taste this week when we traveled to Pennsylvania to watch the USA Women’s Field Hockey Team play a test match against India, an opponent they will face again in Rio on August 11th.
While prime time TV features the “major” events and the big stars of gymnastics, swimming, and track & field, more inspiration can be found where the prime characteristics are effort, persistence, and dedication rather than fame, glory, and money. For example, a story this spring in the Washngton Post provides the background on a team that few people know about. Having finished last in the 2012 Olympics, the USA team has been on a roll since moving its training base from California to Pennsylvania. After that story was published, the USA women won the bronze medal at the 2016 Champions Trophy Tournament in London.
Their training base near Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a relatively short drive from here and so on Monday, we drove up to see the USA-India match. For those who are not familiar with the sport, it is somewhat like women’s lacrosse, except the ball is harder, less protective gear is worn, the game moves more quickly, the goal is much larger, and scoring is more difficult.
Here are some photos from the match (USA in red):
USA on a Fast Break
Winding Up for a Long Range Shot on Goal
Maintaining control of the ball is far more difficult than in lacrosse.
Attacking the Goal
Field Hockey is big in Lancaster
A Young Fan Cheers the USA Team
Post-Game Congratulations (USA 3, India 2)
Young Fans Storm the Field
The USA has two more test matches, a second one against India tonight and the third on July 26 against Canada. Their first match in the Olympics will be on August 6th, against a tough opponent, Argentina, ranked #2 in the world.