The Big Dance

by Teryn Brill Galloway, USA Field Hockey’s Senior Communications Manager, & Megan Bomba, USA Field Hockey Content Development Intern & Messiah College Student-Athlete

Photo Courtesy of UNC Athletic Communications

“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy” sings in your head. One hand is on your heart and the other is clinching your teammates shoulder. Breathe, don’t lock your knees. The National Anthem is wrapping up in the background and then it will be game time.

For a split second you let the reality sink in. We made it. We are playing in the Final Four. We are one of four teams left competing for the ultimate prize. Those endless summer workouts and Terrible Tuesdays filled with early morning conditioning were worth it. Coach constantly yelling “reposition” and “head on a swivel” has only forced me to be more aware on the field.

Before you know it the loudspeaker cuts off and the crowd roars with excitement and anticipation. Emotions are running high and nerves of doubt and the fear of failure start to set in.

Take a second and breathe.

You’ve prepared all year for this moment. It started when your season ended last fall and you decided to get back after it a few days later. You committed to every workout, strength session, team meeting and video review. You listened to your teammates, took constructive criticism from coaches and absorbed it all. It happened with every post-practice and game ice bath, endless hours of foam rolling and properly fueling your body. Your preparation continued to build and so did your confidence as runs became easier, clears seemed to click and your team was on the rise. 

As you step onto the field and the whistle blows, it's game time. The moments of overthinking and worry drift away. The ball is passed to you, and as you pre-scan the options ahead of you, you know exactly where to go. You begin to think, "we can do this, we are going to do this!" Your teammates work together to get the ball up field just for it to be met by a strong defending stick and have it sent back the other way. 

That is the beauty of this game: everyone deserves to be here. They have proved their ability through a strenuous season and fought even harder in postseason. One team may be the favorite, but the bracket has shown that those teams can go down just as easily. Your team is going to need to keep finding the open lanes and stick-to-stick passes in order to move on to the biggest stage in the next round. 

Before you know it, the buzzer sounds for halftime where you regroup and come up with the game plan for the next 30 minutes. Your team is amped, full of belief and energy. Now all there is to do is seal the deal with a goal, or two. You cheer and take the field again with your mind feeling all the same from the beginning of the game. Except this time, you know what you're up against. You're ready for it. 

Get out there and keep dancing.