Monday, November 1, 2010

A love of sports.

I grew up and went to college in Northern California. As a kid, if the 49ers were playing, that is what would be on tv. My mom yelled at the television so much, Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were household names. I had a box full of Mother's Cookies Oakland A's baseball cards, including Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco when they were the Bash Brothers, having acquired them while sitting in the bleacher seats with my swim team eating hot dogs and getting a "farmers tan".  Most recently, I was invited to throw out the first pitch at a Giants game, upon returning from the Olympics in 04' & 08' at Pac Bell Park. So I have come to hold a very special place in my heart for the professional sports teams of the Bay Area.

Living in LA off and on for the last 10 years has helped me appreciate many a Southern California team as well. The Lakers, Sparks, Dogers, Angels, and Ducks to name a few. But none warm my heart quite like hearing about the teams of my childhood. Now, with the World Series upon us, I have had a longing to be home right now. (Thoughts of the holidays could be contributing to that as well but lets just stick to sports for now....) To be caught up in the hoopla and shenanigans that follow the pride of supporting one's team. While I sat on the couch watching Game #2, I came across this blog post on Facebook. And it made me smile.

Because I found that I knew EXACTLY what he was talking about. Only applied to my life I guess it is sort of on a global scale. The World Series is bringing San Francisco and many of us displaced natives together right now, as it does every year for baseball fans in two cities. Every four years, the Olympics bring together countries of people. And in the host city of the quadrennial the feeling of the visitors is much like Drew describes in his blog. People who might normally argue, have different political viewpoints and nothing in common, DO coexist and joyfully at that! The feeling is exactly one that you wish you may bottle up for use later when all hope seems lost. I LOVE sports for this and feel blessed to live every day in pursuit of excellence in them.

As I have said to every family member, friend and random person I meet. If you have the chance to go to the Olympics DO it. It will be well worth the trip just to experience the aura of such an event. But if that is too ambitious an adventure, it is satisfying to think that you can obtain the same feelings being part of a World Series, a Super Bowl, a World Cup, your University's next football game, your High School's next soccer any level the key is just to enjoy the ride.

Perfectly shown by two water polo alumni of my high school, Miramonte in Orinda, who splashed around in McCovey Cove outside AT&T park during Game #1 of the Series. Fans of the Giants and water polo!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


ESPN Body Issue Cover Photo: members of the USA Water Polo Team

The 2nd Annual issue of ESPN's Body Issue hit news stands last week. The copy you will find for sale has WNBA star Diana Taurasi on it. BUT if you are a fan of water polo, my team mates and I were featured on one of the covers delivered to subscribers of ESPN the magazine.(ABOVE) You can not find our version in stores. (If you DO want a copy with us on the cover, call 1-800-309-7655 to purchase one. Specify you want the water polo cover. ~$7) There are also two more pictures of our team on the inside, as well as loads of other incredible photos of your favorite athletes. Like Soccer Goalie Tim Howard, Surfer Kelly Slater, New York Knicks Amar'e Stoudemire, and many more.......

You know you want a copy! 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"Water Polo is......"

How would you finish that sentence???

The first thing that comes to my mind is NOT "easy". But apparently, Baltimore Raven's linebacker Ray Lewis is under the impression that of all the sports out there, water polo is easy in comparison to football.

In a pre-game media session Lewis gave this quote about their upcoming game against The Jets:

"But we don't need no hope. Y'all can keep your hope because we've got enough hope over here. We're packing our bags, and we're not packing our bags to come play water polo."

Well, Ray, in light of this lovely trash talking you were doing, I am glad that you and your team were victorious last night in a defensive battle that ended 10-9. You seem to be leading the charge there on defense. So you are, at least, backing up all the talk. 

But, next time when you choose to talk a little smack, maybe do so with a little more information. Water polo would probably not be the first sport to come to my mind in the easy category, but that is because I play it. I know exactly what it takes to play a game. Swimming back and forth for an hour. Playing both offense and defense. Wrestling, sprinting, jumping, blocking, getting kicked, pulled and punched. All while not standing on anything. 

Despite how hard it is, I play because I love it and it is fun. Which is probably exactly how Ray feels about football. (The multi-million dollar contracts have nothing to do with it.) Our sport is so small not too many people know what it is really like. So, Ray, if you want to do any cross training in the off season, grab your speedo (or trunks, although you are going to want to create the least amount of drag as possible) and come on over to the pool! After you have given it a whirl, then you can, by all means, speak your mind about water polo. 

Oh and Ray, thank you for mentioning water polo during that press conference. It is nice to see water polo in the headlines sometimes. :) An article about it landed in the NY Times. Creating awareness for our difficult, yet awesome sport is always a great thing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Visual sampling of our final match!

If you want a visual recap of our win at the World League Super Final here is a little hight light video!

Monday, July 12, 2010

On top AT HOME!

If you were to ask a Hungarian what their favorite sport was, I guarantee that a majority of them would respond with..... water polo. Yes. You read that right. Water Polo. That is because water polo is their national sport. It is televised regularly on TV and the athletes land in the tabloids as often as Hollywood celeb-utants. I'd say..... just about the equivalent of the NBA, MLB and NFL here in the States. Ok, our basketball, baseball and football players make quite a bit more money than any water polo player on the planet, so we are strictly dealing in terms of familiarity here.

Hungarians aren't the only ones enthusiastic about our sport. I played for a Greek team this past year during their professional season. At one point we traveled outside of Greece to compete in European Champions Cup games. On the way home, we arrived at the Athens airport and headed to find our bags. I didn't have a car and my family and friends were an ocean away. There would be no curb side pick up or a welcome home hug for me. I was thinking this would be a quiet uneventful exit of the airport. I was wrong.

 As we neared the luggage carousel, right in front of the sliding doors leading to the awaiting forms of transportation, we started to hear the beat of a huge drum. Chants, cheers and clapping. What the heck was that? My team mates started smiling. For us? We walked out of the terminal to a sea of waiting people. All making noise, celebrating our return. Families, friends, supporters, reporters, media. My favorite was the group of young polo players that had been loudly beating the drum and chanting the name of our club. Seeing that kind of enthusiasm for our sport was inspiring and made me want to see that in America, for the US team.

So because of our sport's popularity in Europe and our own Nation's lack of an organized professional league, it is rare that people at home get to see us play. Maybe once a year may the opportunity arise.
And that occasion was the World League Super Final last week in La Jolla, California. The top eight teams in the world came to us to compete! In front of OUR families, friends and fans!

And we did not disapoint! In or out of the pool!

On the first day of competition when we pulled up to the pool we were greeted by huge USA Water Polo banners.....with our faces on them! I was so proud to see these awesome shots of my team mates and I drawing people in to watch. :)   People started telling me that is what my Avatar would look like. I would love to see an Avatar play water polo!

Our new water polo mascot "Shiedly" also chose this tournament to make his debut! Coming to the pool deck to interact with kids, fans and athletes!

We were also proud to pose with him, after six days of intense games, we came out victorious in the tournament beating the Aussies in a shoot-out! Our goalie, Betsey Armstrong, came up with a huge block against one of Australia's best shooter to put us one point ahead!

Friday, June 25, 2010

World League Super Final

Who wants to watch a little water polo???? I know you do! Here is your chance. The top 8 teams in the WORLD will be arriving in San Diego, California tomorrow to compete in this years most competitive tournament. If you want to catch the games in person, come on down to the Crogan Aquatic Center at La Jolla High School, Monday June 28th- Saturday July 3rd. (USA will usually have the 7pm game time.) Enjoy the crowd, meet the players and have some fun cheering us on!!!

And if you are a little far to join us......check us out live on the web!!!!

GO USA!!!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Love to travel. Hate to pack.

Have you ever found yourself sitting in your bedroom, travel bag open on the floor, empty. Plane leaves in a few hours?

A few articles of clothing are neatly folded on the bed ready to go. Those are the ones you are SURE about. The rest still happily reside in the closet or in drawers. Ok, maybe there are some things in the hamper or draped over the chair in the corner. Thing is, eventually they all need to get into that bag.

(Here is where I wish we had one of those machines, in the Jetsons, so I could put the bag on the conveyor belt and it would pop out on the other side all packed.)

I love to travel. I don't mind the waiting in airports, long flights, turbulence and any destination seems exciting to me. But it's getting my bag packed that I just want nothing to do with. Especially when I am leaving for longer periods of time.

I am headed to Greece to play for a professional team there. How am I going to know what the weather will be like in 4 weeks, let alone 4 months? Do I need any nice clothes or just mainly for working out? And shoes! Hardest thing to pack. High heels have weird shapes. Tennis shoes are bulky. Uggs are worse.... but SO necessary in the cold after an outdoor night practice in the rain. (Sometimes I wish aquatic sports only practiced in warm locations. Hawaii or the South Pacific would do great. Thanks.) I always make sure to lay the swim suits, goggles and caps on the bed first. If I left without those....well, why am I going in the first place? (Because, while I will be living in a foreign country it is NOT just for a vacation. I do have to "work" er, workout rather.) Then there are toiletries and is nice to not look like a drown rat ALL of the time.

Ok, so just one bag?!? Thanks to all the new travel restrictions, there are those pesky weight and checked bag limits.

TOO MANY things to consider. Can I hire someone to do this for me?

The one very important travel tip I picked after traveling with the National Team for a few years was the use of a small roller bag as a carry-on instead of a backpack. Most of the veteran players on the team used them when I first started. I never really thought about it. I was all excited to sport the team gear and get to where we were going. Until we arrived, some 20 hours later, got in a bus and headed straight to the pool for a training session. Not only were my legs swollen from the flight, but my back and shoulders hated me every stroke I took from shlepping that backpack, with "all the comforts of home" in it, across the world.

So, while my bag was not packed. The carry-on was. That is the easy stuff.

  •  A few books (Having a little english around will be nice when the Greek letters get too much for me.) 
  • Computer
  • I-pod
  • Various charging cords (These take up a surprising amount of room.)
  • Surge protector box (Life saver! Frying the life out of your precious electronics is not fun when so far from home!)
  • 15 pounds of Valentine's Day candy intended to spread some American love to my teammates
  • My new water bottle

The water bottle was actually the first thing I put into the carry-on. Drinking water is my New Year's resolution. Mostly because without a regular workout routine I forget to drink anything. Very bad for an athlete. I didn't want to buy plastic bottles anymore and I figured with a bottle like this, I would pay more attention to my drinking habits.

Once packed and at the airport my lovely new bottle had me paying attention to many other things. Like the fact that it is metal and looks a little like a bomb. Great. That can't go in my carry-on. Security would have me red flagged in two-seconds.

So now, standing in the check-in line with bottle in hand, when I thought all my packing issues were behind me and the worst hiccup was just this bottle, came the best travel challenge of all.

Man at Check-In Counter: "Hello Ms. Where are you headed?"

Me: "Greece"

MaCIC: "Please place your carry-on on the scale."

Me (in my head): "Carry-on? I have never had my carry-on weighed before. Just as long as it fits in the little overhead thing they seem to wave you on by. ON NO. IT IS HEAVY!"

I placed it on the scale..... 

MaCIC: "Ms. your bag weighs 18kg. We only allow 8kg for our carry-on items."

Me: "Oh no." (in my head) "Where exactly am I going to put 20 pounds of stuff, when my other bag is packed so tight it is about to explode out of the new purple straps I bought to keep it together on the journey?!"

MaCIC: "Yes Ms. Only 8kg."

Thanks buddy. I heard you the first time. This is how I came to find out that the candy I was bringing over to the team weighed about 15 pounds. When I put it on the little scale he had, it weighed 8kg by itself. Perfect. I also come to find out the roller bag itself weighed 7kg. HOW was this going to work????
And how in over 10 years of international travel had this never happened to me before?

I never wanted to be that passenger that has to open up her bags, right there in the check-in line and begin the rearrangement dance of all my worldly belongings in front of a line of my fellow passengers. But that was me.

I believe by the end, everyone knew that my favorite brand of underwear is Victoria Secret, I read love stories and adventure novels, most of my clothes are blue and purple and I may have a serious sweet tooth. That is enough for the person behind me in line, to make me a profile on And next to me, I now had two travel bags. One still bulging, being held together by purple straps. And the other- a heavy duty plastic bag, duct taped so well you couldn't really tell what was inside it. Both with airline stickers. Destination- Athens, Greece. Thank god the packing part is over.