“We need you in Mexico by tonight.”
The cell phone was pressed tightly to Jackie Briggs’ ear as she tried to make out the words of her team manager, past the wild screams above. Surrounded by the swirling lights of carnival games and the sweet aroma of kettle corn, Briggs was in Ohio staring at the empty seat of a roller coaster car. She was next in line. She checked the time on her watch – 8 p.m.
So she got creative.
The USA Field Hockey goalkeeper from Robesonia, Pa. made her way to Guadalajara, Mexico for the 2011 Pan American Games. She was waiting for the verdict if the team would call on her expertise for the event. The phone rang yet again, this time she was in a hotel far from the athlete village where little English is spoken. The other USA goalkeeper was officially out with an injury. Practice was in an hour. Briggs needed to be on the pitch. Without money or a true sense of where she was, Briggs made it to the turf. The team had to play in the middle of the pitch due to field issues, so Briggs didn’t even get a session of cage work in. She had one practice before the event started.
So she got creative yet again.
With minimal preparation, Briggs, fueled by sheer adrenaline, contributed to Team USA's defeat over Argentina to win its first Pan American gold medal and in turn, helped propel the team to earn a berth in the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“I wasn’t nervous at that point,” said Briggs. “I knew my job and was ready to get out there and play. Excitement kicked in and took over.”
London not only holds a place in Briggs’ heart, assisting the team to earn their right to play there for the Olympic Games, but London holds a place on Briggs’ couch. Her husband proposed to her in the UK as the Olympic Games were drawing to a close. When the couple picked out an adorable bulldog, the name London stood out.
Will there be a puppy named Rio in the future?
“Possibly,” she said as she laughed.
As a rising superstar goalkeeper, Briggs helped the Tar Heels win two NCAA titles before joining the U.S. Women's National Team in 2010 and making field hockey a career.
While at the University of North Carolina, she studied Studio Art with a concentration in painting. Out of college, Briggs expresses herself through many platforms, but photography is her passion.
“I love shooting senior pictures,” said Briggs. “I’ve shot seven weddings so far including Ali Campbell’s wedding.”
When she gets the chance, she’ll flip open her tray of water pastels or acrylics and turn a blank canvas into a work of art or a chic gift for a friend. Someday in her future, Briggs wants to attend graduate school for architecture so she can channel her love for art with math to capture them in more creative ways to design homes and buildings.
She’s constantly creating, or thinking of creating. The pitch is no exception.
“I do some rather interesting things when I play,” said Briggs. “It’s kind of hard to explain. It’s like no other way I’ve seen played by a goalie. I do some odds moves that some may compare to ice hockey moves.”
She prides herself on taking a different approach to solving problems in her goalie pads and her teammates benefit from the calculated risks and out-of-the-box, or cage thinking Briggs provides.
“It’s fun to come up with different techniques to not get scored on,” said Briggs. “I’m shorter than most international goalies. So I have to be quick and use my power and explosiveness to take up as much room as possible. I’d say I’m very creative when it comes to goalie moves.”
From every angle of the world, nations will flip on the television and turn on the radio in August. With all eyes on Team USA during the Olympic Games, Briggs and her team have a clear message they want heard.
“We want to change the game of hockey,” said Briggs. “We don’t just want to be labeled as a really good or skilled team. We want to change the face of hockey and take it where no other team has taken it before. To come up with our own kind of nonstop, pedal-to-the-medal style of play.”
It's this fiery style of play separates the USWNT from the rest, but they're not afraid of sticking out anyway. They own it.
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