4 Nations Tournament Terrassa-Spain, USA preparation : they will be fit!

091111FH_USAvNewZeal_1064.jpgCOLORADO SPRINGS, C.O. - With the London 2012 Olympic Games kicking off this July, Team USA is chasing a prize that eluded them in 2008: an Olympic Medal. The USA Women’s National Team leaves Monday for a Four Nations Tournament in Terrassa, Spain, February 23-March 3, continuing their preparations for a historical podium finish at the Games this summer.

“This tour sits very well for us,” said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. “The opposition will be strong with Great Britain coming off of a very good second place finish at Champions Trophy and Spain and Belgium preparing for their Olympic Qualification Tournament. This will give us an opportunity to gauge where we are as a team and where individuals are in their own preparations.” 

Bodimeade recently announced eighteen athletes to the travel squad for the upcoming Four Nations Tour. However, the roster is a bit unusual. Names that have repeatedly made their way onto traveling squads for the past year or more have been left off and replaced by some up and coming stars.   

Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, Pa) and Kelsey Kolojejchick (Larksville, Pa) combined have roughly a dozen international competitions under their belt, but both will have the opportunity to showcase their talent on the international stage at the end of the month.

“One of the real benefits of qualifying early is being able to expose players at different stages and give them an opportunity to push for selection,” said Bodimeade. “We will be facing tough competition in Spain and the players that need to get exposure are getting it and that is a great opportunity for us as well as them.”

Sharkey joined the USA Women’s National Team after a standout performance as the leading goal scorer at the 2011 Women’s National Championship. She passed up a season with the Princeton Tigers and has put the 2011-12 academic year on hold to pursue the Olympic dream. Kolojejchick is currently on the USA Development Squad. She took the spring semester off from the University of North Carolina to train full-time in Chula Vista, CA.

“We have players that have the experience, but we also have players like Kelsey and Kat who are pushing for selection and are warranted an opportunity to participate in the build-up to the Olympic Games.”

“I was so happy to see my name on the roster and I am really looking forward to playing. I am honored I am getting the chance to show my abilities and have the opportunity to make the Olympic squad,” said Kolojejchick.

Amy Swensen (Grantville, Pa) and Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa) are two familiar names that were also left off of the travel squad roster. Both are still rehabbing from recent surgeries. According to Bodimeade, Swensen and Falgowski will be returning full-time in mid-March and will have the opportunity to be selected to the New Zealand and Australia tours in April.

Team USA started 2012 with a home series against Australia. Since then, they have spent countless hours training at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. This tour will be the first since their unforgettable performance at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico where they earned an Olympic berth. 

In a recent blog post by Rachel Dawson (Berlin, NJ), she described her Olympic preparations as this: “We are on the turf at 8 a.m. for warm-up every weekday but Wednesday. Training starts promptly at 8:30 and we rarely leave the pitch before 10:30 a.m., oftentimes it's more like 11. Injury treatment and rehab follows training. Food follows treatment. And then, at 1:30, we head to session two.”

Sound brutal? That is what it takes to be a team ranked in the top ten in the world. And, that is what it takes to be on the podium in London this summer. 

In less than 160 days, an audience of one billion will watch the Opening Ceremonies of the London Olympic Games. 10,000 athletes from 205 nations will parade into the Olympic stadium and amongst those athletes will be a team of 16 USA Women field hockey players.

The following athletes have been named to the European Tour travel squad: Torrie Albini (Escondido, CA), Kayla Bashore (Shoemakersville, PA), Michelle Cesan (New Vernon, NJ), Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, PA), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, NJ), Maren Langford (Ann Arbor, MI), Claire Laubach (Centreville, VA), Kelsey Kolojejchick (Larksville, Pa), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, NY), Jaclyn Kintzer (Chapel Hill, NC), Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, PA), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, PA), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, PA), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, PA), Kathleen Sharkey (Moosic, PA), Shannon Taylor (La Mesa, CA), Michelle Vittese (Woodbury, NJ), Keli Smith (Selinsgrove, Pa)

The schedule of matches is as follows with all match times listed in local time. Visit usafieldhockey.com for up-to-date results, blogs and news on the Women’s National Team in Spain.

February 23 & 24 @ 12pm – USA v Belgium
February 26 @12pm – USA v Spain
February 28 @12pm – USA v Great Britain
February 29 @6pm – USA v Spain
March 2 @12pm – USA v Belgium

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