[Morgan Andrews is the U-17 U.S. women’s national team captain. Check out part one of her blog, “21 we are 1,” here. Below is part two.]
There are multiple ways to break down the meaning of this team, family, group of friends, or whatever you see this group of girls as. You can break it down into the number of dance moves you see in the locker room before a game. You can break it down into what position we play, or you can break it down into what kind of personality each player has. You can never actually break the team, though. We are too strong because we hold each other up during the difficult times and celebrate together during the great and joyful times. We have learned this from each other and from the supporters at home. None of us (and I mean this with complete sincerity) would be here today, at the World Cup, if it wasn’t for the people who impacted our lives back home.
Number 13 in the phrase “21 we are 1” represents the 13 letters from home that I received in a packet the other day. The letters were written by previous coaches, coaches I have now, and friends and family. I’m not going to lie to you! I started getting emotional while reading them because I knew that I would not be who I am today without any of those people. I guess that was kind of the point that our administrator wanted to show us when she handed the packets out to everyone. The letters were a reminder that this team is bigger than just the names on the roster. The name on the back of the jerseys represents the people who worked as hard as you did to put it there.
This tournament has been on our mind since the day we knew anything about it. That day for most of us, was the U-14 girls I.D. camp. They sat all one-hundred girls down before our first practice and told us that we were the age group that would later be heading to the World Cup. Three years later and here we are.
Number 15 on the list represents the team staff that we have with us on the trip. Without them, we would be lost… literally! Every single one of our staff members is a part of the team. Each person is another strand in the rope that ties this team together. I’m sure that every team here has some sort of connection. Out of those 16 teams; I truly believe that ours has the most spirit.
On this trip we have learned a lot about a couple of different countries. Number 16 represents the number of different countries at the tournament. We have become sort of close with one team in particular, Gambia. My new friends, Adama and Awa Tamba and Fatou Gibba and I have had a chance to share bits of each other’s lives with one another. We come from different backgrounds but among other things, we have this in common; we love the game of futbol.
Number 17 represents the fact that most of the girls here are 17 years old. We’re just like any other teenage girls accept we get the opportunity to represent our country in this World Cup. We still put Taylor Swift lyrics as our Facebook statuses, we’re all still in love with Channing Tatum, and we still sing and dance like crazy when our favorite songs come on the speakers.
Number 18 represents the number of heart-rate monitors used during practice. All of us field players have to wear a monitor strapped to our chests for every practice to make sure we’re keeping the practices at the right tempo for the day. Controlling our heart rate also helps the team plan our recovery. After a hard practice, we always have great meals to help refuel our bodies. How many different ways can you make chicken and pasta??? I’ve counted 19 so far, but I’m sure there are more ways to make the classic meal for athletes.
Number 20 represents the number of times I’ve had to pinch myself in order to make sure that this all isn’t just a dream. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel around the world doing what I love. I do realize that not everyone gets opportunities like this but it’s not like they were given away. These opportunities were strategically placed on a rock wall for people to climb. With the support of the belayers holding my rope at the bottom I regained my footing when I slipped. Never to fall, because I knew they wouldn’t let me. Even though I have reached this placed opportunity I know there are more awaiting on the wall and I am far from the top. I am not one to give up, and neither are my teammates. Number 21, the final number, represents all of the 21 girls on the team. We climb together, working towards one goal and that is to win, one game at a time.
Morgan Andrews is the captain of the U-17 U.S. women’s national team. Check out all of her blogs here.
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