Pan Am Juniors

July 26, 2012, 5:06 p.m. (ET)

Written by members of the U-19 team who recently won the gold medal at the 2012 Pan American Junior Championships in Edmonton, Canada.

“Do it for the glory, do it for the power, do it for your country, do it for the gold!” 

As the voices of the eight team members echoed their chant through the gym, they each had one goal in common: to win. And that is exactly what they did. After overcoming Mexico and Jamaica 5-0 both matches during pool play, the team moved on to semi-finals and defeated Brazil 4-1. As the final match against Canada approached, nerves began to rise and knees became weak. But confidence overpowered and the team was ready to take the gold. “We were both under much pressure, but in the end, we were the ones who persevered,” said team member Iris Wang. The match wasn’t easily won; every point we won counted. 

The statement “We win as a team, lose as a team” truly stood this tournament. Before arriving, members were scattered across the nation, from Boston to LA to the Bay Area, training individually. Once afoot in Canada however, the individual athletes joined as one. Team bondings, dinners, and jogs helped the team to unite. Even though our team ranged from fifteen to eighteen year olds, we felt a bond similar to that of a family. Even our youngest player, Christine Yang, felt like she was a part of the team. “I came into this tournament thinking that I would play at most one game, but I was proved wrong. I felt as if my point greatly mattered towards our wins and I knew that no one was expecting me to win, so I just went out there and did what I usually do,” said Christine. “Something special about the team this year was that there was a combination of veterans and rookies. Half of us had participated in the team event before, and the other half experienced their first. As a veteran, I prepared the younger players for upcoming years and taught them how to lead a team,” said team captain Jeffrey Kuo. Not one game went by where the bench was silent. Throughout every game and every match, the team cheered on their representative on court. Overall, the USA Under 19 team towered over seven other countries to take home the championship title for their nation.