Today Rachel Dawson became one of only a handful of U.S. field hockey players to earn 200 caps with the national team. When asked about her career, she sums up the years in one word – a journey.
From her childhood home in Berlin, N.J., Dawson grew a competitive spirit and an everlasting love for field hockey. The two-time Olympian has been a steadfast and versatile midfielder for Team USA since 2005.
Head coach Craig Parnham called Dawson's achievement quite remarkable.
“I think for any player to represent their country is fantastic and for somebody to be able to do it 200 times is really quite remarkable,” Parnham said. “It requires a lot of dedication, commitment and hard work and Rachel exudes in all those areas. She is a fantastic role model for a lot of young players throughout the country. I give Rachel credit for playing for so many years and producing so many fantastic performances. We are very lucky to have her on the team.”
Teammate Lauren Crandall describes Rachel as passionate and dedicated.
“Rachel and I have been playing together on the senior team since 2005. She is someone who is passionate about everything she does both on and off the field. On the field she is dedicated and committed and one of the hardest workers. Off the field, those characteristics stay the same.”
Humbly, Dawson said playing in her 200th match today was an honor, but it was really just another day. The special affair was marked with a brief pre-game ceremony where Parnham presented Dawson with flowers and posed for a couple photographs. Following the match, Crandall said a few words to her teammate before presenting Dawson with a card signed by all the players and a gift purchased by the team.
While it was not the result Dawson was after on her special day, it was a milestone marked in history for her and Team USA. When asked about her first cap with the national team eight years ago, Dawson recalls the day as if it was yesterday.
“My sister Sarah was part of the team when I got my first cap, we were playing Australia, it was the summer and we were in Virginia Beach,” Dawson said. “I was sitting on the bench ready to go and my adrenaline was pumping. When I finally got in the game, I think I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off – just trying to be perfect and do everything right. I came out five minutes later and was gasping for breath and I thought how am I going to survive. I always look back and I laugh.”
As one of the most recognizable faces in the sport in the United States and an inspiration to many young players, Dawson shared a few words of wisdom and advice for those looking to follow in her footsteps.
“Continue to challenge yourself and not just by doing things differently or going a little beyond your comfort zone but to think differently and think creatively. Push the boundaries of yourself and your team and don’t be afraid to try things. Be disciplined as you carry on and just enjoy the moment,” says Dawson.
What’s next for Rachel? She answers that question simply.
“The match against Chile is next in two days time,” said Dawson. “I am a one day at a time type of gal.”