Postcard From Costa Rica: Abby Dahlkemper
Every so often when the U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team plays out of the country, a player will write an e-postcard, filling in the fans back home on the happenings of the team, off field activities, and anything else on their mind. Today, 16-year-old U.S. Abby Dahlkemper (who unlike the full WNTâ€™s Abby is a defender) talks about the U.S. U-17 WNT's first few days in Costa Rica, a memorable opening game against Haiti and how sheâ€™s learned some new things about herself.
Hola from Costa Rica! We got here a few days ago and everyone was super excited to be at a real tournament that means so much to all of us. We have a whole wing to ourselves at our team hotel and all the players have been hanging out together and bonding, when weâ€™re not napping, which is a lot of the time. We are just enjoying spending time with each other and getting to know our teammates even better.
One thing we all share is our struggle with homework. Although we know itâ€™s something we have to do, for high school girls who play for the national team, itâ€™s always tough to keep up and we must rely on the kindness and patience of our teachers back home to help us through this. I know that everyone close to us knows how important this experience is to us and we appreciate all the support we get. I really need give a special shout-out to all the kids back at Sacred Heart Prep in Atherton, Calif., because everyone has been so supportive of me and my soccer goals and dreams. My principal has been so helpful and I canâ€™t thank him enough, along with one of my biggest supporters Mr. Moffat, one of our English teachers who helps me so much with my academics.
We knew it was going to be hot down here, but the first couple of days it was super windy. At the first training session, Kaz told us to get in the center circle and juggle, but the wind was so strong that we would take a touch and the ball would just blow away. Everyoneâ€™s soccer balls were just flying across the field and I am sure we looked like Under-8 players trying to juggle. The wind seems to have stopped these past few days, which has not only made training better, but we can truly appreciate the beautiful weather and surroundings. Itâ€™s so tropical and nice here, but I have to say itâ€™s WAY more humid than in Northern California. After the warm-ups before the game yesterday against Haiti, we all felt like we had just gotten out of a hot shower.
The Haiti game was a unique experience to say the least. We knew we had to take care of business on the field, and we werenâ€™t going to treat this game any differently. But after the final whistle blew, it was a whole other feeling. I know we were supposed to feel happy because it was a good win, and at times we looked very strong and connected well as a team, but on the other hand, after the game, reality set in and we all felt so sad and touched by the Haitian girls and what theyâ€™ve been through. Itâ€™s amazing that they can come to this event and play their hearts out for 90 minutes, and they really did play hard for the whole game. They never quit.
I think all of the players on our team will have some very important games in their futures, for the national or in college, but this was one we will all remember. It was just different. I am so inspired by the Haitians and I will rememberÂ what happened after the game forever.Â It shows that if you believe and stay strong, anything is possible. It also made me appreciate my life so much more, the family and friends I have and the house I get to live in. Because I know the Haiti players may be going back home to hardly anything, I hope that I will never again take for granted what I have in my life.
The first game was definitely a confidence booster, and we hope it set the tone for the whole tournament, but we know we have a lot of work left to do. We respect every team we play, and we will never take anyone lightly. I feel like our team is so united, and itâ€™s just so fun and an honor to be here representing our country.
Well, thatâ€™s all the space I have for my postcard, but I want to say hi to my mom and dad back in Menlo Park and even my two brothers, Andrew and Joe! Sorry ahead of time if I donâ€™t bring you back any gifts!
Que tengas un buen dia,