When I came over to the Netherlands, I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know any of players that soon would become my teammates. I didn't know anything about the area I was going to live in. I knew little about the family I was going to live with. In a sense, I just trusted and hoped that everything would work out somehow.
Fortunately it has. In fact, I have been told many times how lucky I am to have joined the team at HGC. Although HGC finished as one of the lower seeds in the league last season, the team this year has quite a few new players and whole new outlook for this season. There is still a lot of potential that has yet to be obtained and although we haven't had the best start to the season, there are many games left to be played and we are headed in the right direction.
What has been most surprising to me though is just how close everyone is on the team. With players living all over Holland and commuting to and from the club, as well as a variety of age ranges and new players, I only assumed that the team would naturally be a bit divided outside of hockey. This is not the case. Personally, I have spent time with almost all of my teammates outside of hockey. Whether it be to grab a bite to eat, go to a movie, go see some other hockey games, or just hang out, I can always find something to do with someone. It has definitely made my transition to a new lifestyle and a new team much easier. Plus, it has been a lot of fun! :)
Another reason I was fortunate to join HGC as opposed to many other clubs was their openness and welcoming of foreign players. It will be the 3rd year that players from New Zealand have been on the team, so all the girls are used to speaking a lot of English. This made it much easier when I came in, plus there are other girls (the Kiwis and a girl from Northern Ireland) on the team who always speak English! There are other clubs that aren't as inviting to foreigners and others that just aren't used to having them, so they forget to speak English. (Good thing for me everyone here knows English pretty well so I don't have to worry too much about communicating with anyone!) So in that respect, communicating with the team is pretty easy. Although, sometimes I like when they speak Dutch so I can try to figure out what they are saying! Occasionally they ask me simple things in Dutch just to make me figure them out! But it's all in good fun so I can learn! :)
All in all, I feel very fortunate to have to opportunity to play in Holland, live with a great family, and be a part of an awesome team. Don't worry, I can't wait to come back and play for the red, white, and blue every chance I get! And I still miss all my teammates from back home!
Just have to give a little shout out to all my US teammates... ik mis jullie! ... or I miss you!!!
After all the excitement of the weekend and meeting up with all of the Americans, I needed a few days to relax and recover. Fortunately, that is just what I got! The family that I live with was actually at EuroDisney in Paris for a few days because the kids had a week off from school for a fall break. Without any responsibilities at the house, I was free to sleep in and come and go as I pleased. Ultimately, I decided to just take the time to relax since most days I am constantly on the go. I also took the time to catch up on some TV shows online that I have missed the past couple months! Mostly Dexter!!
The family returned Wednesday night and although I normally have Thursday off (since the kids are at school and the youngest that I normally watch, Quinn is at daycare), the kids still had off from school so they were home. It was actually a really nice change of pace though because I'm used to chasing around Quinn, who is only a year old, and instead I could actually play and interact with the older two (ages 5 and 8) which I don't get to do as often. The morning was spent drawing. At first we were just doodling, but once the kids found out I'm pretty decent at sketching cartoon pictures, I was then asked to draw everything from Scooby Doo to Minnie Mouse, a monkey, a cat, a dog... and just about everything in between! Finally I convinced them to try for themselves, and I was quite impressed at how well they turned out! My favorite was Declan's Daffy Duck! (say that 5 times fast!) After some grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, we needed to something a bit more active, but of course it was cold and rainy outside! Lilysky then asked if we could go to the pool. I was pretty confused why anyone would want to swim in that weather, but quickly learned that there is an indoor pool right down the street from the house! So we hoped on our bikes and headed to the pool! I was impressed with the brand new facility, complete with a slide, lazy river, hot tub, diving boards, kiddie pool, and separate lap pool. The pool was heated as well! As the kids proceeded to go up and down the slide what seemed like a hundred times, I got a nice little recovery workout in, kicking and shaking my legs out. Just what I needed! I never really thought to go to the pool on a cold, rainy day (especially living in Southern California!), but as it starts to get colder here, the pool just might be where I head on those days!
Although I always seem to find myself around kids, being around them day in and day out gives you a new perspective on a lot of things. They see things very simply, but have a lot of energy and are eager to learn. Ironically, this is the same way I have approached hockey here. Often when things go wrong on the pitch, or in my case I'm playing in a completely new team, if you just keep things simple- doing the simple play or simple pass- the game begins to open itself up and everything becomes more clear. Along with that, I always have to bring a lot of energy and an eagerness to learn. Part of the reason I came here was to become a better hockey player. To do that, I have to put in the work and the effort every time I am on the field. I also have to keep an open mind and learn from the new style of play, different tactics, and players around me. If I can mimic the mind of child, by not over thinking things, there is no limit to what I can continue to do on the field.
So as much as I can teach these kids, every day they teach me and remind me that sometimes it is best just to keep things simple!