Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer 2012

Amanda "Chiddy' Chidester and myself.
First time there's ever been 2 Wolverines on a USA team!
I really cannot assign one word to this summer. Amazing. Revealing. Evolutionary. Best summer of softball of my life. And it really was. I've never had as much fun playing the sport that I love as I did with this USA team. Maybe it was because we were all young and still retain most of our carefree personality. Maybe it was because we just clicked as a team. Maybe it was because we knew that we needed to be together as a group to be successful. I was ecstatic to be joined by my fellow wolverine, Amanda Chidester. She worked so hard in her last two years at Michigan to be noticed nationwide, and it paid off in a spot on the USA roster. We were sad to lose our fellow "bloody idiot" - nickname given to the pitchers by our own Mike White, resident New Zealander and pitching coach extraordinaire. Whitney Canion from Baylor & member of 2011 USA team went down with a knee injury in the middle of the college season. We were sad to be without our 4th member. Luckily, we were blessed with Jackie Traina as an addition to our staff.
"Bloody Idiots"

Once this summer season started, it was relentless. We reported to Ohio for selection camp and training on June 9th and only had a 3-day break between then and July 23rd. We went pretty much nonstop from Ohio to World Championships. As I said before, this team really clicked and it didn't take too much time for us to gel on the field. Our off-field antics were also amazing. There was never a dull moment with this group.

Our ever-entertaining van
Our team took vans to the games once we hit Canada (aka the entire month of July). Our van was the best, naturally. Sam Fischer, Jackie Traina, Amanda Chidester, Chelsea Thomas, Ashley Holcombe-Bell aka Mama Holcs, and myself were crammed into a Dodge minivan and we loved every second. Our highlights included singing "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction - and when I say singing, I mean blasting to the maximum capacity the speakers could obtain and singing out of our rolled down windows. One particular morning, we had the opportunity to serenade the Australian team that was waiting for the pedestrian sign. Gonna go out on a limb here and assume they also assigned the nickname "Bloody Idiots" to our group. We had a lovely early AM trip to Vancouver and Lululemon. We will probably never hear the end of Sam Fischer's disdain for us introducing her to the brand. Last year it was Whitney Canion who fell victim to the ultra-comfortable but ultra-expensive brand. This year, Sam was the victim. I haven't checked in with her to see her Lululemon stock contributions since then, but I'm going to guess she's since contributed to the company's well-being.
Showing off our Lululemon purchases

During World Championships, our van and honorary member, Jessica Shults, decided to film a music video. You may have seen it.....if you haven't I have graciously linked it below. There seems to be a trend in sports teams recording themselves dancing to popular songs. Going to give a very simple explanation: we are bored. There's only so much training you can do in each day before you have completely exhausted yourself. After a quick nap (and some Starbucks) our restored energy levels would be back up, but our muscles would not be up to the challenge. So, many athletes - usually out of season and without homework - decide to lend their talents in another field.....lip-syncing, dancing, overall goofing off. Were natural performers, obviously, having to play/perform in front of thousands of people on a regular basis. Also, we like to laugh at ourselves, so we thought you would too. You're welcome. No, it doesn't bother us that you say "wow, those girls are idiots" or "maybe they should stick to softball." We are sticking to softball, thank you very much. Hence, us dedicating our lives to it.

Chelsea and I in our grandma pin curls
For World Championships, our van had a routine set from day 1. Leave hotel, get Starbucks (not only by my request ;)), head over to Subway, then back to the hotel, and off to our games. Literally, we did this every day. I'm almost positive that people always got the same sandwich, too. Were athletes, what can I say, were products of repetition and superstition. I had the pleasure of having Chelsea Thomas as a roommate. Pitchers are generally good roommates since we tend to have the same ridiculous rituals and like things a certain way. We both took the stereotypical hour to get ready for our game. Chelsea's ritual included about a can of hairspray each day. Mine included doing my make-up and hair differently. The pitchers all became pretty close on the team, and we were always there to help others. Which is fantastic! Can't tell you how many times I've been on a team where the pitchers are vindictive and try to sabotage the others for playing time. Been there way too many times, so it's refreshing to get a group of girls like this. After all, if you're talented enough, you shouldn't be threatened by your "competition" who is ironically on the same team as you. I've seen way too many catty actions by girls against girls on their own team, from middle-school to the professional level. It's just straight-up not necessary. At the end of the day, you should be grown-up enough and put aside your dislike for someone else in order to reach your common goal of winning games and championships. Because, I can guarantee you, no matter how much you dislike this other person, they want exactly what you want and that is to be successful. So, girls....CUT IT OUT! Okay, that was my mini-PSA. 

Back to didn't end how anyone would have hoped for. After beating Japan the previous night, we lost the championship game in the 9th inning. Japan returned many of their gold medalists from 2008, including Ueno, the pitcher who eluded the Dream Team line-up. I thought we had several opportunities to win the game, but simply came up just short. Youth definitely showed a bit, but didn't cost us the game. It's tough to lose a championship with the same record as the winners, especially when we beat them hours beforehand. However, we fought very hard and I couldn't be more proud of this team and what we accomplished this summer. 
We parted ways very reluctantly. The most memorable "split" was the newly conjoined Jackie Traina and Amanda Chidester. They had separation anxiety before they even were yanked in different directions across the country. I can't envision this group being split up for too much longer. Definitely had a blast this summer and made friends that I want to keep in my life forever and ever and ever. 
Amazing backdrop of the city and one of the stages.

This is my best friend, Claire. She keeps my life
interesting and amazing and most importantly,
After a long summer of playing, I finally had a bit of vacation - 3 weeks to be exact. I spent some time in Ann Arbor, my second home, and it felt extremely weird being back and not having to go to school, but it was definitely good to be back. My friends and I took a roadtrip down to Louisville to visit friends. That place is AWESOME. Wasn't expecting it to be in the least bit. But, it was really cool to visit another school's campus. Also, for you grown-ups.....4th street - highly recommended! It's like a mini-vegas. Not kidding. Check it out. A few days later, I roadtripped again to Ohio to see Warped Tour. More specifically to see Mayday Parade. Huge, huge fan. I love them. Also discovered some other artists while trying to hunt down the band. Overall it was an 8-hour roundtrip roadtrip for a 45 minute set. WORTH IT. By far. I have chills just thinking about it. A couple weeks later, I went to Lollapalooza in Chicago. Mind you, before this summer I had never been to a concert. Talk about going 0-60. Lolla was such a whirlwind 3 days. I went with my best friend from back home, Claire and a bunch of our other friends. Trying to keep that group together was difficult to say the least, but we managed to all make it out alive. On day 2, it quite literally rained on our parade, when a huge thunderstorm swept in and cancelled the concert. Lolla was only to be revived from a flat-line a couple hours later and the show went on. The artists there were beyond amazing. Black Sabbath (with Ozzy basically dead onstage), The Weeknd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Aviici, Fun, Kaskade, and, my personal favorite, Florence + the Machine, were some of the shows we saw. Florence changed my life. I say that in complete honesty. She/They were beyond anything I can describe. I started crying. Literal tears rolling down my face. Not in the least bit ashamed about it either. She has the voice of an angel and she flies around the stage like she's one, too. Simply amazing. 
The crazy storm that came through on the wrong weekend
Soon after Lolla, I headed back home to California. I got to see my fantastic friends aka the fam. I was also reunited with my baby, Pudge. He was so much less crazy, which was a relief. His chewing and destroying everything in sight phase has since passed. It seemed as though I had just landed before I was taking off for Japan for second half of season. The team was so excited to have us back and it seemed as though we never left. Their funny antics also havent stopped, so I can guarantee some funny posts in the future :)

Ok, I'm cutting myself off. This post was entirely too long.....but how do you fit such an exciting summer in one post?!?

til next time...
xoxo Jordan 

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