Defender Keeley Dowling will be a sophomore at the University of Tennessee this fall and jumped right back into school and soccer after returning from Canada, where the young Americans made history by winning the first-ever FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship. Dowling played a monster role in the center of the U.S. defense, combating Canada's relentless aerial game with her world-class leaping ability and bravery. Dowling was severely ill the night before the game and the morning of the World Championship final, but with the help of the U.S. medical staff, re-hydrated herself and gutted out the 109 minutes to glory. In this month's Big Women on Campus (BWOC), Dowling talks of the tough transition back to academia, big, fat carps and SEC football.
I must admit it's a bit strange to be back in school. Especially, coming off such an amazing experience that we all just had in Canada. It's kind of hard to focus on class, books and my professors when all I want to do is keep reliving the U-19 world championship and what we accomplished together up there. But I know that I must get back to reality soon for two reasons. First, I don't want to fall too far behind in school, and second, because it's Lady Vols Women's Soccer time.
Although I really hadn't focused too much on college soccer all summer as we prepared for the world championship, I must admit I am very excited now that I am back in big orange Knoxville. Last year, we had our best season ever as we got invited to the NCAA tournament for the first time, even though we lost a heartbreaker in the first round.
One thing I have to get used to after coming back from the national team is that I just can't show up at a room in a hotel and have all my food ready for me. I have to cook my own, which is bummer when you're used to the super buffet for three meals a day. And I have to do dishes! Still, hotel food can get a bit tiresome, so I admit that I had fun grilling us some steaks this week. We also threw some corn on there and I must say that our BBQ was a resounding success.
Speaking of grilled meat, another reason I am excited to be back at school is that whenever we get bored and can't find anything to do, a bunch of us head to the Tennessee River, which is right across the street from my apartment, and do a little carp fishing. There are some big, fat carps in the Tennessee river, but they aren't too smart, because we just take some big nets and flashlights and go scoop 'em out of the water at night. Okay, it might not be real fishing, but it's still fun and we feel like we're more successful than those pro fishing guys on ESPN. We usually feel guilty for plucking them out of the water, and throw them back, which is probably why we eat steak way more than fish.
I'm even more excited because all of my teammates are back this year and we get to play with a year of experience behind us. They are a great group of girls. They were in North Carolina during the U-19 World Cup Final and got to watch it on tape right after the game. They said they were a little nervous watching, so you can image how I felt on the field, but they were awesome when I got back and everyone was so happy for me.
Now, I must focus on the college season. I've already jumped back into the rhythm and I have recruits staying at my house next weekend. Not only that, but I can't wait to watch the Vols football team at Neyland Stadium, which is what college football is all about. Even though I'm tired, I know I will get back into the swing of things soon. We finished second in the SEC last year and want to improve even more this season.
But as I move through my college season and career, I will always have a place in my heart for my best friends on the U.S. U-19s. I will never forget what we accomplished together and I miss them so much already. I think about them and our journey every day, and I know that will inspire me on the soccer field and off forever. To all the U-19s, call me!
See ya when I see ya,
Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (The Triple-Edged Sword: Class of 1991 vs. Class of 2002)
2) Word Association (w/ MNT defender Eddie Pope)
3) At the Movies (w/ WNT midfielder Aly Wagner)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT defender Gregg Berhalter)
5) Big Woman on Campus (w/ U-19 WNT defender Keeley Dowling)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT forward Mia Hamm)
7) Mark That Calendar (2002 Nike U.S. Women’s Cup)
8) Point/Counterpoint (What Do YOU Know?!?)
9) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (U.S. Open Cup trivia)
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