a day in the life

A day in the life… I love being a soccer player. I love being a professional athlete. I love being a member of a team. Basically I love my job. How many people get to do what they love everyday? My job involves every aspect of my life. Soccer lays a claim on what you do off the field to make sure when the lights come on the game goes well. While game day gets its glory, the days before are vitally important for me and my teammates to prepare for what our fans get to see on the field. So enjoy the ride while you follow me through a typical weekday with the Atlanta Beat.

 

 

Beep Beep Beep Beep

That’s the sound most people wake up to in the morning. It gets them throwing things at the alarm clock, throwing it on the ground, or hitting the snooze. While, I do love a few extra minutes in bed, getting up for work is a good part of the day because my job is the best. Few people get to play a game for a living. And I love it.

 

My job has a few demands on my life that aren’t typical in the everyday 9am-5pm.. One is the beep, beep, beep that haunts many a soccer players dreams. Fitness. The beep test is a common fitness testing measure, and while we don’t run it too often we spend a lot of time making sure the team can last 90 minutes on the weekend. Another demand on the professional soccer player is that every moment of the day affects how you perform. Taking care of your body is vitally important. So my days start off with fuel. I need to eat a lot to cover what we burn in the Georgia heat… Usually some good oatmeal with crasins, almonds, and a nice spoonful of brown sugar. Breakfast is essential to performance.

 

My roommates and I carpool to practice in the mornings to save the earth from more pollution and our pocketbooks from spending more money on gas. On the commute depending on the teammates’ taste in music we rock out, chill out, work out, or listen to country (my favorite choice). We practice our on the field communication skills in solving the puzzle of who drove last, who has errands after practice and who has to go early for the training room. While seeming simple enough these daily communication skills occasionally cause an error with a spare body or two that have to squeeze in a back seat. Communication is essential to the game.

 

Practice is practice anywhere, but the environment here in Atlanta is intense and requires a lot of focus. As a kid you learn to love the game of soccer. Most people love scoring, shooting, finishing in any way. As a goalkeeper I love simply catching the ball, snatching a cross from a forwards head, and diving and tipping a ball over the post. Practice is our obvious preparation with a few hours in the morning with the team. We always work on our technical, tactical, mental, physical, and character each practice. That’s the structure, but the fun we all love to do and watch is playing the game. We, the Beat, get competitive when we play our favorite small sided games. While I don’t want to give away any of our secrets, we always keep score. In a 3v3 tournament this week, Cat Whitehill made sure to be on the winning team. She secured coupons for her team to a local restaurant in reward. I was jealous even though the keepers were doing a fun session on our own.

 

Athletes need to keep their bodies running like a finely tuned machine. Post practice involves ice baths (for some of our wiser older players who actually feel the necessity of recovering between practices a little more), stretching, and massage. I appreciate the healing hands that work out those pesky knots and aches every now and again.

 

While I’ve been telling you some of the demands we face, there are many benefits. One is daily naps. We all nap after practice most days. While I am not a day sleeper personally, I greatly value a little alone time with a book, the TV, or a little music. One of my roommates, India Trotter, is quite the napper with the ability to sleep any time of day for extended periods of time. Our other household activity is community TV. Several times a week we watch movies or shows together of varying levels of maturity. This week was a kids movie, Halloweentown… very entertaining to say the least.

 

After nap time, TV time, and snack time this week we had clinics to participate in. We had youth coaches come to our fields to watch us train and observe sessions and drills we do often. These practices were fun to get to practice a little for an audience and put on some moves. While it’s not the same as a game, it changes the energy of a practice. Occasionally appearances or clinics like this pop up on the schedule with the team coaching a hundred and fifty kids from a local club or like this weeks playing for twenty youth coaches, but they are all an opportunity to share the game that we love with the people we play for. The same routine follows our evening sessions as the morning. Fuel, carpool, practice, treatments, carpool, EAT, sleep. We have to take care to get in bed and sleep. Sleep is vastly important to recovery and preparation. And that is where I am headed now. Hope you enjoyed a day in the life of the Atlanta Beat!

 

how the world turns…

*que light melodic peaceful holiday theme music in the back ground*

Holiday Season is upon us. Though you may not know holiday season has been here for quite some time. Apparently the new socially acceptable time to decorate is October One.  And not mind you, decorate for Halloween, but for Christmas! The holiday agenda has been pressed on us, and we have responded.

Tragic I say. However, regardless of how your decorating habits have changed or the extent of the zealousness to which to hold these habits, Christmas is here. I decided to share a Christmas Wish List with you all pertaining to some seasonal events and/or fun things to do during the Holidays.

1. White Christmas… now this isn’t that big  a deal to you northerners, but in the deep south we don’t get snow often. Since I have never seen a white Christmas I believe one is due my 25th year. See isn’t that just a nice round number to start off with?

2. Time to sleep in… this may just be the greatest gift ever. For the off-season I have been working an internship at UAB Hospital designing a community outreach and education program. Wake up call 6AM. At my desk by 7:30AM. Work till 4 or 5. Coach or workout. Home. Dinner. Bed…. I think a few mornings rest is in order.

3. Snowboarding… While soccer may be my first love, my second may be rock climbing, probably snowboarding is my 3rd. And hey everyone says a bronze medal is better than silver! I am hoping to get a day on the slopes after Christmas as long has Santa brings me a pass! (hint hint Mom and Dad)

4. That Red Ryder BB gun Ralphie in A Christmas Story asked for… I don’t really want this, but just wanted to ask for it so someone would tell me I’d shoot my eye out. Oh Christmas traditions. My family usually watches this at least four times during the 48 hour marathon Christmas Eve.

5. Crocheting needle… I lost mine for the 3rd time and need a new one to finish a blanket I started in high school. Yes, in answer to your question. I am a woman of many talents. I can crochet a blanket, but thats about it. Maybe a scarf. But the unfinished blanket is sitting on my shelf and its bugging me. Need that needle to finish it.

6. A new Christmas CD… I found one by a group I like. Downhere “How Many Kings: Songs for Christmas” The problem with this is that I’ll be really sick of Christmas Music by the time I get this and it will wait till next year. Sad.

7. I am going to end the list at 7. I wouldn’t want to look to selfish and greedy asking for all these things. But most of all I want this season to be about more than me. More than what I can get or who I can see. Or how great my experience will be. But I want to remember its about celebrating when the God of all things came to the earth to die. To ransom sinners, while we were still in our sins in rebellion. I want to act like a daughter of God this season. And while I know I will fail miserably (there must be the annual Whitworth children fight over video games Christmas Eve), that is my goal. Not so that I can receive anything, but to be like my Father.

In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.  He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. -Excerpts from John 1 (NIV)

Verse of the Day

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart FREE.

Psalm 119:32

I love the encouragement and freedom this verse communicates to me about God’s love. He set my heart free. Run in that freedom today gang. Freedom to love others, to live vibrantly, to work hard, to dream, but also to fail, to struggle, to accept help, to overcome… to know that in all those circumstances and situations Jesus is in control and that His love overcomes to make a way for me.

WPS league news… GO BEAT!!

Allison Whitworth was traded from the FC Gold Pride to the Atlanta Beat.  "We really rate Allison Whitworth ," Beat coach Gareth O’Sullivan said.  “And if you talk to the Bay Area they weren’t thrilled about letting her go."

We felt it was important to have a goalkeeper on the books and at least have that kind of peace of mind. We feel we got good value.
Gareth O’Sullivan, Atlanta Beat Head Coach on the recent trade with FC Gold Pride for Allison Whitworth

While the Philadelphia Independence have taken the aggressive route in acquiring players, the Atlanta Beat have so far taken the quieter road.  The club recently shipped two key 2010 WPS Draft picks to FC Gold Pride to acquire their likely starting goalkeeper, and will still go into the January 15th draft in the enviable position of holding the top selection.

The Beat originally owned the 1st, 10th, and 12th overall picks, but dealt the 10th and 12th to FC Gold Pride in exchange for Allison Whitworth and the Bay Area club’s 23rd overall choice.  Whitworth impressed as Nicole Barnhart’s backup in 2009, but the trade could be deemed risky.

With the eight other clubs set on their starting keepers, the Beat could have held on to the 10th and 12th picks and most likely had their choice of college keepers from a list that includes Portland’s Kelsey Davis, Rutgers’ Erin Guthrie, North Carolina’s Ashyln Harris, Penn State’s Alyssa Naeher and Southern California’s Kristin Olsen.  Instead the Beat went with Whitworth, an Alabama native who attended Auburn and impressed Atlanta Head Coach Gareth O’Sullivan.

“We really rate Allison,” O’Sullivan said.  “And if you talk to the Bay Area they weren’t thrilled about letting her go.  I do feel that the pick, no. 23, that we got is still going to be a quality player.  We felt it was important to have a goalkeeper on the books and at least have that kind of peace of mind.  We feel we got good value.”

O’Sullivan’s draft comments mirror the near universal opinion that the current senior class is as strong and deep as any in recent memory.

“I really do think it is a deep class,” O’Sullivan said.  “There are a lot of fantastic players coming through.  There are five or six who stand out, but I think there are another 15 or 16 in there that are very good players.”

Of course the Beat will have their pick of the litter, and despite reports to the contrary, have not and will not divulge their no. 1 pick until draft day.

“We are decided as to who we’re going to pick,” O’Sullivan said.  “We’re not going to go public with it until January 15.”

Looking at the players currently under contract in Atlanta, the Beat will be counting on their draft choices to play major roles in the team.  O’Sullivan is also pleased with the progress of negotiations with the club’s international draft picks, but no signings have been announced as of yet.

On the current roster are Whitworth, defenders Sharolta Nonen and Leigh Ann Robinson; midfielder Katie Larkin; and forwards Amanda Cinalli and Noelle Keselica.  Defender Sara Larsson is also listed on the roster, but is technically a free agent.

O’Sullivan said the team has had recent discussions with several free agents and that at this time, he does not anticipate any further trades.

“At the moment we’re very happy with our situation,” he said.

As for Whitworth, who expressed delight about returning to her Southern roots, O’Sullivan and the Beat are banking on her blossoming into a WPS star now that she will have a chance to play every week.

“Now that she’s going to be a starter I think she’s going to have an opportunity to really develop,” O’Sullivan said.  “We’re very excited about the trade.”

Tournament Time Arrives, Draft Next

The advent of the NCAA tournament on Thursday means the final phase of the college careers for the graduating seniors.  When it ends, many will bid adieu to soccer, but for several on the cusp of WPS draft boards the next four weekends will represent their final opportunities to impress the league’s nine coaches.

“I really believe that this is the most talented class for some time,” said Emma Hayes, whose Chicago Red Stars hold the fourth pick.  “I think the first round is really going to give teams an excellent potential star.  I’ve been so impressed with Stanford and UNC (North Carolina).  I really believe the attacking talent is outstanding.”

Last year the Red Stars had the second pick in the college draft and took Megan Rapinoe, who ended the season in the eye of the U.S. National Team.  Rapinoe is an exceptional soccer talent, but Hayes believes she could acquire a player of equal athletic prowess with her second round pick in 2010—no. 15 overall.

“I will get as good an athlete,” she said.  “I don’t necessarily think I’ll get as special a talent as (Rapinoe), but I do think we could get a player that could develop because their athletic ability is greater than the group was last year.”

Albertin Montoya holds the third overall pick with FC Gold Pride plus picks 10, 12, and 14.  And he may not be done dealing, saying he is still exploring options for acquiring an additional first round pick.

“I think most of the coaches feel the same way that it is probably anywhere between 15 to 20, 23 players deep depending on team’s needs,” Montoya said.  “I think the first round is just going to be exciting.  I think it is a very strong class coming out.  The first and second rounds are players that I think will have impact on most teams.”

Montoya believes he has a firm grasp on which two players will be gone by the time FC Gold Pride goes on the clock with the third pick—the Breakers hold the second pick—but cautioned, “you just never know what a team will end up doing until draft day.

“I’m excited sitting in the third position because I know we’re going to be able to fill a need that we have,” Montoya said.  “I have two players that I don’t think I can go wrong with in the third spot.”

Hayes has similar sentiments about her fourth pick.

“We’re fourth so we have our eye on a couple of players that we would really like to get,” she said.  “I think we can most definitely get one of them in the first round.  But I have to see what the teams in front of us are going to do.”

As for who will go where, none of the coaches contacted for this story would comment on the record about any players in the draft.

Tobin Heath is considered the best all-around player available and could lead a trio of North Carolina Tar Heels selected inside the Top 5.  Casey Nogueira is a technical marvel and Whitney Egan is the top rated defender in most circles.  Additionally, Harris could well be the top goalkeeper chosen, but with no teams in need of a starter, it could be awhile before any ‘keeper hears her name called.

The country’s other top college teams should be well represented at the top of the draft as well.  Undefeated Stanford boasts goal-scoring machine Kelley O’Hara and her 23 goals in 20 regular season matches.  The speedy Ali Riley began her career as a striker but converted to outside back as a junior and has been mentioned as a top defender.

Hayes believes the overall athleticism of the senior class is such that some still playing up top may find themselves playing in the back once they hit WPS.

Lauren Cheney’s Olympic gold medal when she replaced an injured Abby Wambach last summer makes her the most experience of the college seniors.  The UCLA forward has been projected as a Top 5 pick.  If her Bruins move through to the national quarterfinals they could host Portland which would give Cheney a chance to try her luck against Davis, another top goalkeeper.

Free Kicks

  • The Red Stars say they still intend to resign Cristiane and that the Brazilian forward would like to be back with the club.  Cristiane is an unrestricted free agent.
  • Portland senior Michelle Enyeart had a sad ending to her college career when she was carried off the field with a knee injury during the Pilots’ West Coast Conference final win over San Diego.  Enyeart scored 13 goals and added 12 assists this season and could see her draft stock plummet due to the injury.
  • The Beat are hopeful of finalizing their stadium announcement in the upcoming weeks.
  • The Independence have traded out of the first round to acquire Amy Rodriguez, Allison Falk, and Val Henderson.  But head coach Paul Riley said the team will not be parting with the 13th overall pick, now the club’s first.  “The convention is in Philadelphia so we better hold onto it,” he deadpanned.  (The 2010 WPS Draft takes place on January 15 at the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia.)
  • Hayes reports that Lindsay Tarpley and Megan Rapinoe, both of whom had knee surgery since the end of the season, are both on course to join the club for the opening of training camp next Spring.
  • FC Gold Pride and the Chicago Red Stars are both hopeful of announcing international signings before Thanksgiving.
  • There have been six instances of first round picks being traded including the no. 5 overall pick twice.  That pick was originally Boston’s, was traded to Philadelphia, and then to Los Angeles.
  • A player with a familiar name expected to be drafted is forward Gina DiMartino of Boston College, the younger sister of FC Gold Pride midfielder Tina DiMartino.  Gina scored seven goals this season.  But she did not lead the team.  A third sister, freshman Victoria DiMartino, christened her college career with 14.

Have a question, a suggestion, or a story idea? Did you see something we didn’t? Let me know atthirtymtp@aol.com .

Dan Lauletta is a freelance writer and can be reached at thirtymtp@aol.com . The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s, and not necessarily those of Women’s Professional Soccer or womensprosoccer.com.

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been a little while…

I know its been a while since I have posted consistently. I have been swamped!! But shout out to my girls 3-1 Auburn Soccer over Tennessee!! I traveled with the team this weekend and realized how much I’d forgotten (or blocked out) about bus trips on only a few short months.

1. It is FREEZING! I did bring a blanket, sweats, and spare socks, but dang.

2. The are silly girls on the bus that like to spaz out and make noise… a lot.

3. Movies are obnoxious to sleep through even at 2 AM. I did manage to miss Uncle Buck and some other action movie, but it was difficult.

4. Some one always has a light on near you that shines in such away that you cannot avoid it.

5. I do get to spend lots of time reading and listening to music and podcasts on my sermons. YAY!!

6. I get to catch up on the movies I missed seeing over the summer.

7. Staying in really nice hotels is always fun. I like the free breakfasts. I had an omelet with tons of stuff in it.

8. Seeing friends in different cities. I am beginning to have friends spread out across the country, and it is so fun to get to have coffee with good friends.

9. Getting a win on the road makes EVERYTHING better.

10. War Eagle.

why not both?

Some would say that life is like a box of chocolates, others that it is the sum of your experiences… I say why not both?

Everyone in our culture seems to be enamored with celebrities, athletes, musicians, and any figure in the public eye. This blog is my two bits about life… from the quirky perspective of an overly educated professional athlete. So tune in next week for, well, it’ll be a surprise to me too!