I have been in Israel for almost a week now, and our pre-Israel Connect trianing camp is finally over! We’ve been practicing a LOT and all of us are sore and worn out. On top of that, I’m having trouble sleeping and can’t even get a good nap in. Luckily, today we had off and we only had one morning practice yesterday and then we got to go to the beach. More on that later.
After our first practice, we were able to switch to a new field that has turf, which is great although our games will still be on grass so I hope we are okay with switching to a different surface for competition.
It’s been really great having this opportunity to train as a team. We still need to get used to each other’s playing styles and tendencies, and learn to communicate more effectively. For me, I also really value this opportunity because I feel like I am learning so much that will really help improve my game. For the past 13 years I’ve mostly just scrimmaged or played in games so I’m trying to soak up all the knowledge I can. So far I’m not sure how well it’s transferring to improving my game but I’m really hopeful that I will leave Israel a much better player than I was when I arrived.
However, it’s been very hard at times because I feel lost on the field and sometimes I just feel like I’m missing so much of the knowledge that my teammates have gained from the quality coaching they’ve received. I had a really rough day where I just felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and I couldn’t help thinking back to my high school years. All I ever wanted to do in high school was play field hockey, yet back then it wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is now. I was constantly searching for off-season playing opportunities and forever coming up short. In the winter I would drive an hour to Westminster to play in the only indoor league I knew of in the area. Summer was the best time because that’s when I would get to go to camp and actually receive some decent coaching, and I usually went to two camps each summer. My high school coach didn’t really know what she was doing. She had played hockey in high school but it wasn’t something she was really knowledgeable about. When it came time for me to think about college, I was in a really difficult position. I knew I wanted to play in college, but I had no idea how to go about getting recruited. At the same time, I really wanted to go to the University of North Carolina, but of course I knew that I could never get recruited there. I felt lost and confused and didn’t really have the guidance I needed from my coach, and I don’t think my parents really knew how to help me either (not that my dad would have supported me prioritizing athletics over academics). In the end, I just applied to college without going the field hockey route and when I got in to UNC, it just wasn’t something I could turn down. I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could walk on the team. If anything I knew I had heart and maybe that would be enough. Unfortunately, I was 17 and had a pretty typical teenage mindset of procrastination, laziness, and ignoring consequences. So when I showed up to UNC’s field hockey camp the summer before I went to college, I was far too out of shape for them to even consider me, and the assistant coach was very straightforward about that. I started school with the intention of working my ass off to try again the next year but I got into the college lifestyle, enjoyed playing on the club team, and decided that I didn’t need to play NCAA hockey to be happy. And yet, not playing is one of my biggest regrets in life. Even now I’m having a hard time getting through this without tearing up. But, enough of that – back to recapping my trip.
As for my finger, it’s a lot better now although it still hurts a lot if it’s touched in one particular spot. The trainer said it definitely could be fractured but, even if it is, she thinks it will heal on its own. Click on the gallery below to see pictures that show the evolution of my finger this week:
Off the field, we are finally getting to see some of Israel. On Thursday we went to a tennis center that serves underprivileged Israeli kids and we got to play tennis with them. There were a lot more of us than there were kids to play with, and not enough tennis rackets either, so we played some 4v4 variation that also included a field hockey stick?
Yesterday, we went to Tel Aviv to see Rabin Square, a crafts market, some historic sites, and finally THE BEACH! For me, the most interesting thing about Tel Aviv is all the little cafes. It reminds me a lot of Italy, which I loved. They are so cute, and I can just imagine a lovely afternoon sitting and drinking coffee or beer with friends. However, besides that and the beach, I’m not super impressed with Tel Aviv. There’s a lot of history but most of that history has been knocked down or built over. I’m looking forward to going to Jerusalem tomorrow to get a better sense of the power and history of this place. Here are a few pictures from Tel Aviv:
Once we got to the beach, I was really surprised to find that they had a huge party for Maccabi USA. It was amazing.
And, of course, the Mediterrranean Sea was beautiful. Once we move to our hotel in Tel Aviv, I’m looking forward to spending a lot more time there!