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Postcard From New Zealand: Olivia Klei

Every so often when a U.S. Women’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. After losing its opener in the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the team looks to rebound against Paraguay and midfielder Olivia Klei checks in from Hamilton, New Zealan,d on the state of the team, some worms that glow and why she could be gunning for a guest spot on ER.

G’day mates! Today was pretty much a relaxation day for the team, to get our minds off the Japan game and refocus for the Paraguay. It was also a chance for the team to bond and get the chemistry even stronger because we are going to need that for the rest of the tournament. We had a long meeting today and went over what went right and what went wrong against Japan and we have learned the hard way that just a little more focus defensively can make a big difference.

We are going to really concentrate on finishing our chances in the next game against Paraguay and try to have more fun. I think maybe we had so many butterflies before the first game that we forgot to have fun. We play better and more flowing when we are enjoying ourselves out there.

Today was a really good day. It started off with a fantastic breakfast and then we spent that long meeting solving our problems on the field. We then went for a short jog and had a nice stretch that really helped get our legs loose.

After lunch we took an hour bus ride for a special trip to the Waitamo Glowworm Caves, which was unique experience for sure. It was a little scary going down into the caves as it was dark, damp and quiet. These glow worms only live in Australia and New Zealand and seeing them cover the top of a cave was amazing. It looked like the ceiling was covered with thousands of tiny light bulbs! We took a short boat ride on the underground river to see them and one of the most amazing things was that the whole team had to be totally silent on the ride, which was a tough thing to do. It was probably the only silent 10 minutes we’ve ever had together. We even got praised by the guide for our quietness.

Other things I learned about glow worms:

  • The temperature in the cave varies one degree from summer to winter. It’s about 59 degrees in there all year round. Glow worms love that.
  • The poor glow worms only live for 11 months.
  • They lay about 120 eggs, but the first ones to pop out eat almost all of the others eggs.
  • They can only live in dark, moist and quiet places above water, so there are other bugs for them to eat.
  • The light attracts their prey and apparently they are pretty good at catching bugs.

After getting back to the hotel, we all got into our Halloween costumes for dinner. We had two Bat Girls, four mummies, three nerds, a hippie, a genie, two gangstas, one rabbit, two Ninjas, and I was a doctor with full scrubs and a stethoscope. I had a name tag that said Dr. Liv, because all my patients live. We don’t really know what Vicki DiMartino was, but she had a cool wig on.

Finally, we did some Trick-or-Treating on our floor and ended with a Halloween party in the meal room. I have to say we adapted very well to bring a tradition from home all the way to New Zealand. It was a fun night and tomorrow we get back to work preparing for Paraguay. We’ll have training in the morning and then the rest of the afternoon and evening it will be time for each of us to prepare the best way we can for a must-win game.

The World Cup is a special experience for us for many reasons and we want get the job done for each other on Sunday.

For now, Happy Halloween and catch ya on the flip side,