March 27, 2018: I want you to know that there have been sunny blue skies here since Sunday. I slept with my window cracked open three nights in a row. I wore my light jacket instead of my parka. I wore shorts to change my laundry. The snow is melting. I can hear birds chirping. This is one, a miracle, and two, signs that spring is actually truly really possibly potentially coming… and I can’t wait! I never really thought too much about weather until I was in Australia. Day after day after day was sunny and clear, and outside of a brutally hot summer, I never got sick of it. When I moved back to Massachusetts in October, I was a little bummed with the 40-50 degree rainy drizzly days we so often get in autumn and winter. And then I moved to Sweden…. What I would do for a 50 degree rainy drizzly day! Okay, maybe not rainy, but you get the idea. I am ready for SPRING!
Last Friday after training had ended, the sun was just setting and we were all sitting around outside stretching and slowly working our way off the field. That may sound like no big feat, but up until last week, the SECOND training ended, we would scurry away and into our locker room to get out of the icy temperatures. I think you maybe remember me making snow angels on the field my first night there? So, while it may be 35-40 degrees now, it might as well be summer. I am loving it.
Last week was pretty busy for me with a lot of work to catch up on and (drumroll please, our inkilning). What is inkilning you ask? It’s not the literal definition as provided on Google Translate, which says “wedging.” What the heck is wedging anyway? What it really is though, is a sort of initiation on to the team. And I didn’t really realize this, but the Swedes are really into initiation (read: NOT hazing… take it easy USA!!).
We have nine new players on our roster this year, including two Americans. We were split into two teams and given a group mission and an individual mission to execute during the week. The other group had to make a spoof off of the Swedish version of Real Housewives/Keeping Up With the Kardashians type show and my group had to come up with an act based off of a Swedish talent show called Talang. So, yeah, I missed writing a blog post last week because my spare time was spent directing, producing and editing this video. Prepare to be amazed:
Yeah, I know, I will stick to my day job(s), but aren’t Swedish girls rapping English lyrics the best thing you’ve ever seen!? I think so. Both groups videos were a smashing success, and it was hilarious to see the personality come out of all the new players, especially the shy ones. And now we’re all officially a part of IK Uppsala. While it may be hard to tell as an outsider, I believe the chemistry of our team is coming together. We are all getting to know each other off the field, and that is beginning to show on the field. With close to half of our team being comprised of new players, it can take a while to truly start gelling, but I believe it’s happening, and it’s great to see.
Who wouldn't want to be a part of this?!
I think this started last Monday after a team meeting to talk about our goals for the year. I believe that sitting in that conference room was a pivotal moment for our season. Last week, there was a new energy out on the pitch, and it was exciting to be around. Practice was more intense, and it was more fun because we were all buying into it, and we were focused on doing the little things right: being efficient, being positive, and working hard. And the more you focus on those things, the better you play. And the better you play, the more fun it is.
And honestly, it only takes a few people to initiate making the change. I was hoping that it wasn’t just a “one off,” and the level would remain high this week.
Last night, in our recovery training, only eight of the players from our Elite team (my team) were playing. The rest of the girls there are on our U19 team. The practice was supposed to be medium intensity, but that doesn’t mean that it was a chance to slack off. Admittedly, I was a bit more lax than I typically am, but I saw one of my teammates, Amanda, working really hard during one of the drills. She was putting high pressure on defense and checking hard to get the ball on offense. Seeing her work so hard made me want to work hard too, and suddenly the drill became so much more enjoyable and competitive. So if you’re ever the only person out there that feels like you’re trying...
Know that people are watching you, and you have the ability to be the change.
To me, this is the sign of a good team. Wanting to work together and FOR each other. I truly don’t think there is anyone on our team who cares more about her individual stats than the success of the team, and that is incredible and rare. It’s a pleasure to fight alongside of players like that.
This change at practice translated nicely into our training match against BP last weekend. We’ve won our past two games, both with a shutout, and while that isn’t saying too much, I think our play is becoming much stronger. With just a little over two weeks to go until our series premier, the timing couldn’t be better. The little pieces are starting to come together, and we are connecting pretty nicely. I think we still have a long way to go, but we’re aiming for progress and not perfection. The match ended 2-0, and we were happy with that.
Tomorrow, we meet with a mental coach, and that combined with our goal setting meeting might be a good place to start for next week. Until then, I am going to enjoy the sunny skies and try to get outside!
Peace, love, and football.