One Year Later: Perspective from a USWNT Athlete
by Nicole Woods, U.S. Women's National Team Striker
Exactly one year ago, we as members of the U.S. Women’s National Team were sitting in our dorm rooms of the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center packing up and getting ready to head home. What was supposed to be a four-week training block, was cut short to two weeks as COVID-19 was just beginning to spread throughout the country.
We were just starting to see some of the first major changes that COVID-19 would cause - the NBA season had just been suspended, Ivy League schools had just canceled their spring seasons and kids were being sent home from schools with no indication of when they would return. A few of us had gone to Target to stock up on hand sanitizer but it was near impossible to find before the flight. This was even before masks were mandated on flights or even in the general public. We made it back to the East Coast and were expecting to have two weeks off from training to rest, stay home and stay safe. What we didn’t know at the time, was that was the last training block we would have for an entire year.
During the months of March and April, our coaching staff did all they could to rearrange schedules, trying to fit in our remaining FIH Hockey Pro League games or at the very least get us back on a pitch for training. Many of us returned to our respective hometowns and spent a little extra time with our families and doing our very best to stay safe. It didn’t take much time until we realized the true severity of COVID-19 and the impact it would have on a global scale. We stayed connected through weekly team meetings through Zoom and would spend a lot of time asking questions about what the future would look like for us as a team. Unfortunately, a lot of questions remained unanswered as no one really knew what would come next. Not only was it a challenge for us to look ahead, but the entire USA Field Hockey organization was trying to find unique ways to offer events such as the Futures program and club events. As the organization tried to shift the Futures program into an online platform, many of the USWNT and U.S. Men’s National Team athletes pitched in to provide video content of skills, different drills and other methods to keep young athletes out there motivated.
Our strength and conditioning coach Kyle gave us a little bit of ‘normalcy’ as he continued to prescribe workouts every single day for us to focus on for at least once, if not twice per day. As an athlete, we are always on the go, ready for training, competition, you name it. To be at home without access to our team, a pitch or even a gym was a big struggle for many. What snuck up on most of us was the toll it would take on our mental health as well. Speaking for not just us athletes, but likely everyone in the world must have felt the ebbs and flows of motivation to stress. Some days we would wake up super motivated and ready to attack the day, and others all we could muster up was a walk outside on a nice day or even just standing at the end of the drive way socially-distanced and chatting with a neighbor.
As summer rolled around it was confirmed that we would not be meeting back up as a team until a new coached was named and that coach would arrive in the United States. At that time, a lot of us USWNT athletes found different roles that would keep us busy while ensuring our safety and health was still maintained. Ashley Hoffman took an opportunity to play abroad in The Netherlands, Taylor West finished up her master’s degree in exercise science with a nutrition and wellness concentration, myself and teammate Ally Hammel went back to our part-time jobs working at an Orangetheory Fitness Studio, and the majority of us spent a good chunk of the summer coaching various field hockey camps.
Although many of those things would have normally been something we did on our own, everything we did was approved by our Athletic Trainer Yuko who would make sure we were properly social distancing, wearing masks and following travel protocols if we were to leave the state we were in.
Finally, after many weeks of waiting, there was light at the end of the tunnel for the USWNT as Anthony Farry and Greg Drake were named our new coaches. As of now, the start date is just under a week away and our team is more than ready to get back into the swing of training. Although training might look very different now, we are more than willing to adjust and adapt in order to train, compete and play field hockey on the level we want. This year has been hard on everyone and we never imagined we would ever be away from each other and away from our game for this long.
At the end of the day, we tried to make the most of it so here is a list of some of the things the members of USWNT did this year:
Mary Beth Beiler - Got engaged and married to her husband Jeremy and also sat as ‘copilot’ as he became a helicopter pilot and have gone on flights around NYC together.
Kelsey Bing - Graduated from Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering and is now working on her master’s, also tried sand boarding in the sand dunes of Colorado.
Gini Bramley - Continued on her master’s degree in Education with a concentration in school counseling. Also worked a part time job at Taylor Chip Cookies, coached for PA Revolution field hockey club and now has an internship at Millersville University as a graduate student mentor for student athletes.
Ali Campbell - Got back into cooking and baking, spent a lot of time with her husband and doggies going on walks, doing puzzles and also found a new gym community in Lancaster.
Linnea Gonzales - Graduated from the University of Maryland and is currently studying to become a certified holistic nutritionist and health coach.
Danielle Grega - learned to golf and spent a lot of time in the Las Vegas area going on hikes through the Zion National Park.
Ally Hammel - Started her master’s degree, worked at Orangetheory and ran a half marathon.
Carrie Hanks - Spent lots of time working hard to recover from two foot operations.
Karlie Heistand- Continued to coach at Villanova Univeristy, spent lots of time outside going on hikes and mountain biking and continued to plan her wedding through COVID.
Ashley Hoffman - Became a certified yoga instructor, played club hockey in The Netherlands in the Hoofdklasse and helped create the field hockey coaching platform Become Uncommon with teammates Lauren and Amanda.
Laura Hurff - Started her master’s degree, spent a lot of time with family, going on walks with her nieces and nephews and re-discovered her love for art and painting.
Jess Jecko - Became the assistant coach at Duke University, coached many field hockey camps, was a nanny and went on so many walks with her dog Honey.
Kelee Lepage - Spent lots of time at home with family, helped her mom Joanie create a YouTube channel for her students when they had to do remote learning and graduated from the University of Maryland.
Amanda Magadan - Became a certified spin instructor and created a field hockey coaching platform Become Uncommon with Lauren and Ashley.
Madison Maguire - Graduated from the University of Maryland and spent lots of time with family and learned how to play pickle ball.
Lauren Moyer - Became the assistant coach at the Univeristy of North Carolina and created a field hockey coaching platform Become Uncommon with Amanda and Ashley.
Alyssa Parker - Ran a half marathon then a week later, a full marathon with a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, became the assistant field hockey coach for Saint Joseph’s University.
Haley Randall - Graduated from Duke University, and got both engaged and married to her husband Dalton.
Miranda Rigg - Graduated from James Madison University, became the assistant coach for The University of Mary Washington and bought an RV to live in and drove it to various camping sites.
Rachel Robinson - Spent tons of time at home with family and finding new ways to get ready for her last season at the University of Virignia!
Kealsie Robles - Spent time reconnecting with family, got to be a part of three of her best friend’s weddings, got into hiking and exploring new places and is now preparing to go back to school for her master’s.
Casey Umstead - Completed her master’s degree in Business with a health services concentration, coached field hockey this fall at Moravian College and got married to her husband Scott.
Taylor West - Completed her master’s in exercise science with a nutrition and wellness concentration, ran a half marathon and was a volunteer assistant coach for Saint Joseph’s University.
Nicole Woods - Completed my master’s in Business, worked at Orangetheory, went hiking a lot and ran a half marathon.
Corinne Zanolli - Played hockey for Surbiton in England and spent a lot of time working on her honors thesis and graduated from Stanford University in June.