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Behind the Scenes Exclusive United States of America World League

Exclusive: Behind the Scenes with Team USA – Part 1

While we’re here in Johannesburg, Jemma and I were lucky enough to be invited to spend the morning at the gym with the USA Field Hockey Team, where they were put through their paces by their Strength and Conditioning Coach, Nick Shedd.

Michelle Vittese working hard

We met the team at their hotel and then walked with them to the gym; you’ll see from the pictures what an amazing facility it is. Once we were inside, we had to wait to go up in the lift (elevator!), and as there were quite a few of us in the lobby, including some of the England girls, we had to go up in groups.

Both Jemma and I were surprised at the vastness of the gym, and being fitness fanatics ourselves (Jemma more than I), it was hard not to want to join in – especially as we’ve not had a chance to work out since we got here.

The girls started off with some warm ups on the spin bikes and then moved on to stretches, weights and some upper body work.

A quick warm up before the real work began

Nick pointed out to us that while the girls are on tour and between matches it’s more about maintenance rather than pushing too hard. However, today, because they’ve got a three day break before their next match, he pushed them harder than he normally would. After the session he told the girls they’d likely feel a little stiff but it would be gone by game day.

It’s no surprise that Melissa Gonzalez is the Captain of this team; she leads by example. You could see during the session that she gave her heart and soul and was constantly giving words of encouragement to the rest of the team. As well as that, she also has a great sense of playfulness, which as well as taking the serious edge off what is a very serious business, keeps some of the younger girls at ease.

Melissa showing off her muscles

This is a very young squad mixed with experience, and the youngest of all is Erin Matson, who is only 17 and still at high school. I think the influence Melissa has plays a big part in keeping these girls firmly grounded.

Youngster Erin Matson on the battle ropes

I’ve often wondered about how the girls’ diets are controlled during major competitions like this, so posed the question to Head Coach Janneke Schopman, who told us, “There’s no point in telling the girls not to eat certain foods. If they want to eat bad food they could do it behind my back anyway, but the chances are they would stay away from the bad stuff anyway”.

Goalkeeper Jackie Briggs working on the rip cords

We’ll be posting more photos and video footage of their gym session on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, so keep an eye out for that. As well as that, we also have an exclusive interview with Janneke Schopman, which we’ll be posting shortly.

Tomorrow is another exciting day for Jemma and I, as we will be spending the morning once again with the team when they hit the pitch for an on-field training session.

Continue reading our Behind the Scenes Exclusive: USA Behind the Scenes Part 2

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