It’s a moment they’ve been waiting for.
Since selection to the National Squad in May, twenty-seven women have been working towards one common goal: a spot on the Pan American Team and the opportunity to send their team to the Olympic Games.
The countless hours of training and unwavering persistence and commitment has afforded sixteen talented women the chance to represent their country at the most important tournament of the year.
Head Coach Lee Bodimeade has named the athletes that will travel to the XVI Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and attempt to earn a ticket to the 2012 London Olympic Games.
“The selection process was extremely difficult with the depth we have on this Squad, but this is a very good position for us to be in” says Bodimeade. “We are happy with the team selected and our preparations and are looking to achieve success at the Pan Ams."
Olympians Kayla Bashore-Smedley, Lauren Crandall, Rachel Dawson, Katelyn Falgowski, Caroline Nichols and Amy Tran-Swensen highlight a talent-filled roster. Joining the six Olympians will be rookie Michelle Cesan, 2010 Sportswoman of the Year Katie O’Donnell, the Reinprecht sisters, and six additional women that have proved their skills can match the top teams in the world.
The Pan American Games are held every four years and represent the first opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games. From October 19-28, eight teams will fight for the chance to fulfill an Olympic dream. Only the gold medalist will earn the ticket to the Olympic Games.
However, in the event that USA does not claim gold, there is still hope at fulfilling an Olympic dream. From early January to May of 2012, there are three tournaments held in Belgium, India and Japan. The USA will be permitted to attend one of these events for their second and final attempt to become a part of the Olympics.
There is a fierce group of contenders that USA will have to face. Canada, Chile and of course the world’s number one ranked team Argentina will be key opponents for USA. These sixteen athletes have the potential to make history and break a lingering Argentinian winning streak that dates back as far as 1987. For the past five out of six Pan American tournaments, the red, white and blue has finished second to Argentina. This is the year they’re hoping for a change.
When Bodimeade was asked about his thoughts on facing the world's number one ranked team at the tournament, he stated, "We've known that from the start. We play better when we have the underdog status."
Of the 144 field hockey teams in the world, an exclusive twelve with have the honor of standing on the world’s biggest stage and competing at the Olympic Games. USA is looking to secure one of those twelve spots next month.
Final preparations will resume on Wednesday in Chula Vista, CA. The team will travel to Colorado Springs, CO the end of September for altitude training before making their final stop in Guadalajara.
Pan American roster: Kayla Bashore-Smedley (Shoemakersville, Pa), Michelle Cesan (Harding, NJ), Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, NJ), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, NC), Claire Laubach (Centerville, VA), Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, VA) Katie O’Donnell (Blue Bell, Pa), Paige Selenski (Shavertown, Pa), Katie Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa), Julia Reinprecht (Perkasie, Pa), Amy Tran-Swensen (Grantville, Pa), Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, VA), Michelle Vittese (Woodbury, NJ), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, NY)