London 2012: 5 Reasons Why U.S. Women's Field Hockey Will Medal This Summer

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London 2012: 5 Reasons Why U.S. Women's Field Hockey Will Medal This Summer
Hannah Johnston/Getty Images
Keli Smith-Puzo has been on the U.S. National Team for 11 Years.

As the days and minutes inch closer to the opening ceremonies in London this summer, the national outlook for the United States is very clear.

Yes, we all know about Phelps making history and the star-studded men’s basketball team that seems to tower over competition, but what about the other 34 sports?

The women’s field hockey team has been flying under the radar since 2008, when they finished eighth in the summer games.

So now, with a taste of success on the national stage, the women’s field hockey team is entering the Olympics looking to medal.

The women’s team will earn a medal in the games across the pond, and this is why.

 

Experience

Eleven of the women on the team participated in the 2008 Olympics, and 11 players are on the field for each team at a time.

Not to say that those 11 returners will all start, but the experience they bring from playing across the globe in China is intangible. These women know about jet lag, big crowds and big-time competition.

The ups and downs of the sport paired with the highs and lows of being an Olympic athlete can make the strongest athlete crumble.

These 11 returners, including Keli Smith-Puzo who has been on the women’s national team for 10 years, will help keep the team balanced both on and off the field.

 

Momentum

Adding on to a gold medal at the 2011 Pan-American games, the women’s national team has been gaining momentum since their eighth-place finish in 2008.  

Their gold at the Pan-American games last year is the team’s first ever gold in international competition.

Momentum is behind them.

Building off that gold, the women won two out of three games in Australia this past April, and they are continuing to gain confidence.

As July nears, the women are hoping to ride this success as far as possible—possibly to the gold medal game.

 

Following

England, and London especially, is the epicenter for field hockey.

The modern game of field hockey was formed in London in public school yards, and it is one of England’s strongest sports.

Their pitch for the summer is going to be bursting with color, with a blue and pink surface.

In America, field hockey has slowly gained popularity, and this may be the year that it catches. With the potential for serious success and the draw of a bright field and big crowds, the women’s field hockey can create a large following.

Most of the tickets for the field hockey competition have sold out already, and pending visits by the English Royal family will create the buzz needed for America to hop on the bandwagon.

 

Proximity

Four short years ago, athletes from all over the world traveled to China for the Olympic games.

Although it now seems impossible to “dig a hole to China” the point gets across, China is far away—very far away. Going across the world to compete on a high level is difficult.

Unfamiliar buildings, unfamiliar utensils (chop sticks?), unfamiliar food (“real” Chinese food) and unfamiliar people put athletes in a place that can seem far away from home.

But the English? They’re our brothers, sort of.

After the American Revolution we began to get along, plus the travel isn’t across the world. It’s across an ocean. This close proximity to the United States creates an advantage for most U.S. national teams, including women’s field hockey.

Except for different outlets, we speak the same language too—sort of.

Nonetheless, the proximity makes the travel less taxing and the culture less unusual.

 

Youth

Although 11 women on the team have been on it since 2008, 12 women haven’t.

Yes, young players can be raw or emotional, but any good team needs some of these qualities in small doses.

Some emotion and some raw talent, will bring a strong youth mix into the squad. A mix is exactly what the team is bringing over to London.

There is not one dominant age group on the team. Four women on the team were born after 1990.

1990!

These young women can bring a certain excitement that a wily old veteran may lack. These young players can be the secret to the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team gaining a medal in the Olympics this summer.

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