As part of our weekly Wednesday Chasing the Dream posts, we’ll be featuring a USWNT athlete up until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The bold, block style letters traditionally printed on the U.S. Women’s National Team’s jersey have quite a history and a future with the last name of Dawson. Following the path of her two sisters, Natalie and Sarah former USWNT athletes, Rachel Dawson has kept the hockey heirloom alive and well at the very pinnacle of play.
From her childhood home in Berlin, N.J., Dawson shared her competitive spirit, natural athleticism and a tiny bathroom with her seven siblings. For Dawson, being a part of a big team is second nature and has molded her into a better teammate.
“It made me more able to go with the flow and deal with different people feeling different things at different times,” said Dawson. “It allows me to be to okay with situations like with sitting in back of the van on bus rides no matter what is or isn’t going on. Growing up in a big family has had a tremendous impact on me as a teammate.”
The versatile defender, midfielder joined the junior national team in 2001 and advanced to the senior squad in 2005. Graduating from University of North Carolina in 2007, she continued to pursue hockey. Now, she is the most capped athlete on the team with more than 260 marks. A substantial amount of personal development occurs within these many international caps. Dawson taps into yoga and writing as vessels to track and perpetuate self-discovery and exploration. More than often, those worlds overlap.
As athletes our internal voice becomes a cheerleader, pushing us to the finish line during exhausting workouts. Recently, Dawson was in the midst of a demanding conditioning exercise and reverted back to moments during mediation at a yoga teacher training. During her first rep, she wondered what would happen if she silenced the motivator, the enforcer, how each step was landing and was just focused totally on the run itself.
“I felt a sense of peacefulness,” said Dawson. “I could really get into the flow of the run without the mind’s forceful voice yelling ‘be better, you have to do this.’ I ran faster because it came from this real peaceful place of acceptance and being in the moment and how I was doing verse the expectation of how I should be performing.”
This sense of composed calm is an aura the two-time Olympian has continued to carry regardless of the competition, score or opponent. She has sported the red, white and blue at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and London 2012 Olympic Games. Her advice to others going through their first Olympic cycle and selection is simple: be present.
“Don’t expect anything just experience everything,” said Dawson. “Experience each moment for what it is. Accept it and love it. Don’t get caught up in wanting things to be one way or another.”
In her latest blog post on The Athlete Way, Dawson reflects on the question as to why continue hockey after two Olympics, within 15 years spent with the national team pipeline between the junior to senior level and various other accomplishments at the international level.
“I’m not going to be the hero you read about in books. I’m not that type of hero. I am a weaver. I weave seemingly random moments into a tapestry of words that come together to form a message that connects the outwardly disparate, distinct threads of my life. I merge bold obnoxious hues of green, red and orange, with soft pastels of pink, yellow, purple and blue. That is my craft, my gift. I connect things, subtly, invisibly, patiently, into an intelligible whole.
It’s an abstract, confusing and frustratingly slow process. People often ask me why I’m still playing field hockey. Well, its simple really. The tapestry isn’t complete. I’m still weaving.”
And what a piece of artwork it will be.
Check usafieldhockey.com next Wednesday for another USWNT Chasing the Dream post.
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