Postcard from Victoria... Keeley Dowling
Every few days, a player from the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team will send out an e-postcard from Canada, where the U.S. is playing in the FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship. The USA will open the tournament on Saturday, Aug. 17, against England at Centennial Stadium in Victoria, B.C. at 1 p.m. PT. Fans can follow the action live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Phillips Electronics.
Aug. 14, 2002
Born: February 17, 1983
Hometown: Carmel, Ind.
College: University Tennessee
Hello from beautiful Victoria, British Columbia. We came over from Washington state on a ferry, which was definitely the first time I've ever arrived for a soccer trip by boat. We pulled up to our really nice hotel, which is just two blocks from the harbor. The view from my room is spectacular. Okay, so if you look right out the window, you see the roof of part of our hotel, but if look beyond that, you can see the mountains of Washington that are covered in snow. It's cool to be playing in a world championship tournament where you can still see your home country from your hotel window.
On the long bus ride from Portland to the ferry, we drove mostly on a winding, two-lane road, through lots of forest area. Half the time you felt like you were going through a tree tunnel and the rest of the time there was a huge drop-off on the right to a big lake. Most of the team got pretty queasy with all the twists and turns and by the time we got to the ferry stop, we were all pretty happy to get off that bus.
We had some time at the port before the ferry arrived so Kendall Fletcher got out her little football and we started throwing it around. I swear I could play catch with a football for hours. (Go Vols!) Kendall and I have pretty good arms and we can throw a spiral about half the time, but Manya Makoski looks more like she is throwing a shot-put than a football. Plus, she is a lefty and just puts some weird spins on that thing. She almost threw it into the water a few times, which would have made Kendall really sad, as she chases after that mini-football like she was a puppy dog or something.
Today we had a day off from training and we went porpoise watching. Well, it was supposed to be whale watching, but those darn killer whales were heading away from us and even though we were in those cool Zodiac boats that skip over the waves, our guides said we would never be able to catch them. Bummer. However, we did all get to wear these big, puffy, bright yellow, full-body "float-suits" that looked like something you would wear on the space shuttle. They did protect us from the wind and flying surf, but we almost lost our head coach Tracey Leone (who stands a shade under 5-foot-tall) when she pulled one on. So, because we couldn't see any whales, the guides found some porpoises. Or is that porpi? Anyway, they were very beautiful, super fast swimmers and were very playful, so although we didn't get to see the killer whales, at least we saw some wildlife in their natural habitat.
From here on, we have one training a day until we open the World Championship against England. It seems like we've been dreaming about this for our entire soccer lives, even though it's only been two years. We know England will be a very challenging opening match as I know those girls are hard tacklers, very committed and take tremendous pride in playing for their country. But so do we. It should be a great match. We can't wait.
See ya when I see ya,
Keeley Dowling has been a member of the U.S. Under-19 National Team for two years. She was forced to miss the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament in Tobago due to an ankle injury suffered against Mexico in March, but recovered in time to make the World Championship roster. Dowling, a central defender, has 10 full U-19 caps for the USA and has scored four goals. One of the best leapers in the world in her age group, she is dominating on head balls on both offense and defense. She will play her sophomore season at the University of Tennessee following the tournament.