What are Team USA athletes — Olympians, Paralympians, hopefuls and more — up to when they're not competing? They're training. They're practicing. They're traveling to competitions and meets and games and tournaments. They're relaxing. They're getting engaged and married. They're taking hard-earned vacations. They're coping with the raw emotions that come from losing and winning. And they're sharing. Through the reach of social media, we're able to follow along on their often extraordinary journeys. We'll catch you up each week on what's "Red, White & Trending."
V Is For Victory
In nearly a week full of compelling stories out of Portland for the IAAF World Indoor Championships, perhaps the most compelling was authored by Vashti Cunningham. The daughter of former NFL star Randall Cunningham not only won the high jump to set Team USA's record at the event with its 20th gold medal, but she also, at the age of 18, became the youngest champion. More thrilling, Rio will be in her sights after clearing 6-foot-5 in Portland.
But for all the posts that lit up social media in the glow of Cunningham's golden finish, it had to be gratifying to learn that high jump legend Dick Fosbury was watching and rooting, too.
This is just so good. Thank you, U.S. champion figure skater Jason Brown for this beautiful slice of life.
Team USA Goes Dog Wild
Earlier this week, the world observed the internet holiday of #NationalPuppyDay. Turns out this chance to celebrate man's best friend spoke to a good portion of Team USA athletes. A sampling of some of the best shots, including this great shot from alpine skiing legend Lindsey Vonn ...
Jake Dalton, Olympic gymnast:
Michelle Konkoly, Paralympic swimming hopeful:
Simone Biles, Rio multi-medal gymnastics threat:
national puppy day 🐶❤️— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) March 24, 2016
love my gentle giants! pic.twitter.com/C7VfnQUxUu
Matt Antoine, Olympic medalist skeleton athlete:
Alex Morgan, Olympic soccer star:
Jarryd Wallace, Paralympic track star:
Brianna Decker, Olympic medalist ice hockey player:
Stuart Holden, former U.S. Soccer midfielder:
Misty May-Treanor, three-time Olympic beach volleyball champion:
Charlie White, Olympic medalist ice dancer:
Chris Knierim, 2015 U.S. champion pairs skater:
Kendall Coyne, Olympic medalist ice hockey player:
Kara Winger, two-time Olympic javelin thrower:
One of the best goalkeepers in the world, last seen in MLS with a good bit more hair, Team USA's Tim Howard will play his next season for the Colorado Rapids. For the time being, though, he's wearing red, white and blue, as the United States is off to Guatemala for World Cup qualifing.
Very, Very Gouda
Courtney Mathewson summed up the beginning of her women's water polo trip nicely: "Los Angeles ✈️ Amsterdam. Off to try and qualify for #Rio2016." And off Team USA went, eventually arriving in Gouda, Netherlands.
Early on, their journey was fueled by ... cheese (thank you, goalkeeper Sami Hill).
As of Friday, Team USA stood first after group play, courtesy Thursday's 15-7 win in which Kiley Neushul scored five goals and added five assists. They may even be tired at this point of hearing their goals referred to as "fancy." Why?
You've probably heard of walk-up songs in baseball, where a batter has his own personal tune played over the home stadium's PA system for his stroll to the batter's box. And NHL teams often play the same song after the home team scores. Well, this is a variation on the theme. While in Gouda, goals scored by Team USA kick off this ear worm (beginning nine seconds in):
Meanwhile, in Mexico, men's national team captain and four-time Olympian Tony Azevedo was enjoying some downtime...
Happy Birthday, Missy
One of the many great things about growing older is the wisdom that comes with it. Congratulations, Missy Franklin.
Main reasons I'm excited to be 21:— Missy Franklin (@missyfranklin) March 21, 2016
1) A horizontal license
2) Being able to buy Kombucha at Whole Foods
Earlier this month, three-time Olympic gold medalist soccer player Heather Mitts made it clear she was due any minute, and, if you had March 22 in the pool, congratulations.
👨👨👧👦 Nearly delivered in the car ride to the Birth Center but Miss Blake Harper held on. 7lbs 9ounces & 22 inches of #girlpower. 💃❤️💪🏻— Heather Mitts (@heathermitts) March 23, 2016
For a closer look at Blake Harper ...
Sky Is The Limit
When you're a young basketball player, Skylar Diggins, the WNBA guard who will likely be in the conversation for Rio, very well may come and make your day.
Colorado On Their Minds
First Leo, now this? Earlier this month, Colorado's corner of the internet was buzzing with a rumor that Leonardo DiCaprio might be moving to the state. On the face of things, this post from Olympic champion decathlete Ashton Eaton and his wife seem far more earnest and credible.
In Colorado! Never been so checkin it out. May want to live here once our track careers are over 😉 City suggestions? pic.twitter.com/18YL5gpxqg— Eaton (@WeAreEaton) March 23, 2016
Either way, Red Rocks makes for a perfect selfie location. The most athletic couple in the world, fresh off their bucket list double golds, has taken a week off for vacation.
Golden In China
It took four sets against the host nation, which was ranked No. 3 in the world, but the U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Team won gold in China. Get caught up in the emotion with the match-winning point:
The semifinal game also featured one of the better sports images of the week:
The win also caught beach legend and current women's indoor coach Karch Kiraly's attention.
Way to make history USA - congratulations!! https://t.co/KVGa3My7Ei— Karch Kiraly (@karch_kiraly) March 23, 2016
In addition to swimming, Olympic gold medalist and Rio hopeful Tyler Clary also has a passion for car racing. And being a huge nerd. To wit, take a look at what he managed to swing for himself for his birthday.
Younger sister Lindsey Clary has followed in his footsteps as an excellent swimmer (she recently capped off her junior season at Ohio State with a second-place finish in the 400 IM at the NCAA Championships) ... and, apparently, as a nerd.
"This is actually what I'm asking for on my birthday @tylerclary," she replied.
Big brother's response? "I knew you and I shared a deep love for computers, I just didn't know you loved that as much as me...lol @lindsey_clary"
After spending the better part of five weeks on the road competing, Olympic freeskier and newly minted FIS Freestyle Skiing overall crystal globe winner Devin Logan found her way back to Utah for some spring skiing. This is not something she does at a languorous pace.
Perhaps spurred by being out-driven on the first hole of the World Golf Championships by his buddy Jason Dufner, Rio hopeful golfer Rickie Fowler, who is most certainly in the mix for Team USA's golf contingent, went ahead and drove the fifth hole. The 370-yard fifth hole. Wow.
Sneaky long.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 23, 2016
Rickie Fowler drives the 370-yard fifth hole. https://t.co/fxGEQq8iCp
Unfortunately for Fowler, he had lost and halved his first two matches, though he still holds a chance to advance. Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson are among seven American players to go 2-0-0 in the first round.
Olympic long jumper. NFL wide receiver. Marquise Goodwin is both. Drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2013, he's played 24 games in the NFL, but the 2012 Olympian now has Rio on his mind. And as his 2016 bid heats up, he'll occasionally cool down, way down to about -220, in a cryo-sauna.
Christmas In March
Olympic alpine skier Steven Nyman returned home after competing overseas to a belated gift. The gift of ... socks. In turn, however, he shares with us his gift of a Chewbacca impersonation.
Note To Self
Don't mess with world champion wrestler Adeline Gray ...