As part of our weekly Wednesday Chasing the Dream posts, we’ll be featuring a USWNT athlete up until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Keep your head in the fridge and your heart in the fire.”
Whether by staying cool and level-headed when her opponent is barreling full tilt into the defensive end on a 1 v 1 breakaway to utilizing her unwavering passion to play when the score is tied and exhaustion is kicking in, USWNT defender Caitlin Van Sickle constantly strives to keep this mantra in mind.
“If you can slow your thoughts down in an intense moment, you’ll more than likely make a better decision,” said Van Sickle. “I don’t think that I’ve necessarily mastered that but it’s something I constantly remind myself. It’s all about being cool and calm when that big moment comes.”
Ironically, her nickname also cleverly ties into the fridge portion of the saying. Poppy, short for popsicle, was given to her by a college teammate due to the icy treat’s similarity to her last name. Whichever name you call her, her presence on the pitch is undeniable.
Van Sickles’ career with field hockey began on an ordinary day in fourth grade gym class. On that day, in her hockey-oriented hometown of Wilmington, Del., something clicked. It took one, full class for her to realize something much was behind that wooden field hockey stick.
“I probably didn’t know it at the time, but my P.E. teachers planted a seed in my mind and I’m thankful for that,” said Van Sickle. “You never know how that can influence a kid. This was instrumental for me. I never would have guessed back then I’d be here now. “
Through this incredible journey, Van Sickle and her USWNT teammates are on, she has learned to “follow your dreams because you never know where you may end up.”
After years of playing, building and growing, Van Sickle’s heart for the game showed through in her play at the University of North Carolina, where she was an All-American from 2010 to 2012 and competed in NCAA National Championships all four years. Van Sickle joined the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2013.
When she’s not in a competitive field hockey environment, Van Sickle enjoys watching movies especially her family’s favorite The Sound of Music. Van Sickle also enjoys swinging a different kind of sport stick in her rare but treasured free time. Golf was introduced to Van Sickle at an early age by her mother a professional instructor and golfer. Although a challenging sport of its own to master, Van Sickle uses golf to unwind, not bothering to keep score. Through it all, the down time and training with the USWNT, family is a constant for Van Sickle.
“My parents are always wanted me to follow my dreams and didn’t steer me in any particular way,” said Van Sickle. “They were supportive with whatever I was doing. Their support has shaped who I am and who I will be and that’s something I want to instill in my kids."
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