The Women’s Junior National Squad recently returned from a week-long training camp in Northern California. Squad-member Mary Nielsen shares her experience at the camp – including an epic run over the Golden Gate Bridge.
After an early flight out of Vancouver, the Squad arrived in San Francisco determined and excited for the week ahead. There was no time to waste. We ate lunch and immediately took off to “the farm” where we’d be training for the following seven days.
In contrast to the dismal dark days up north, the Bay Area provided the staff and athletes with an excellent supplement of vitamin D. The days of sunshine were not only a pleasant change to the grey winter but moreover a revitalizing beacon-like brightness to an upcoming new year.
Expectations from Peter (Head Coach) and his coaching staff were clear from the get-go – this was preparation for our ultimate goal – the Junior World Cup. With that in mind we began practice just after three hours of landing in San Francisco. After our first practice a daily schedule was set up. Wake up call; team run; breakfast; practice; nap; lunch; meeting; scrimmage; dinner; treatment; sleep. The schedule kept to its core for the most part, and we were lost in the routine with casual trips to Jane’s room for extra snacks which were (of course) always at the ready.
On New Year’s Eve day, instead of a journey to the Stanford facilities we were given instructions to wear our work out gear and bring a change of clothes. The uncertainty worried not only myself but my fellow roommates…Peter had mentioned a 20 mile run…actually he had mentioned a lot of things and most of the time we had no idea whether they were true or not. It was best to prepare for the unlikely.
About forty minutes of driving around San Francisco we stood, jaws dropped, in front of this godforsaken hill. The task was to run up it. A run with 30 or so highly competitive field hockey players quickly turned into an apocalyptic sprint. The killer-hill was completed, and although it felt like I was dead, casualties were few. After the hill, we were taken to one of the seven wonders of the modern world: The Golden Gate Bridge, designed by chief engineer, Joseph Strauss (my second favourite civil engineer). The two-mile run over the bridge was a highlight for many, but that didn’t stop the glory of what lay beyond the morning workout. We were given half the day to see whatever we liked in the city.
After a wonderful trip to the city we went straight back into focus mode – more training, treatment, and inter-squad games. The coaches kept up the work rate, and with the week over, a new year in full swing and a goal set for the squad, we left San Francisco excited for the upcoming tours and itching to work hard in our separate field hockey endeavours before being reunited again.