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Quote Sheet: Sundhage Names 18 Players to Olympic Roster

U.S. captain Christie Rampone
On the process of transitioning coaches and choosing the Olympic Team:
“It’s been a long seven months, with Pia coming in and making a huge transition for this team, but everyone has been very receptive and willing to change. It’s tough when you have limited time, but everyone trusted Pia and believed in Pia. She’s done an amazing job with this team and in the way we have changed this system. We are a more possession-oriented team. Of course, there are times when we get away from it, but she believes in us and we keep trying to getting better on the field.”

On the competition for Olympic roster spots:
“From day one, everyone had to prove themselves. Each training session has gotten better, but that’s also made it harder on Pia. She had the tough decisions to make and it came down to the very end. It shows that this team is strong and that we have a lot of depth.

“It’s so competitive. Everyone always dreams of making an Olympic roster and that brings the best out of everyone. For some players, it came down to a last game, but everyone really worked their tails off this year, and in the end, the players that didn’t make this roster definitely made this team stronger. As far as unity and togetherness with this team, we also got stronger.”

On playing in her third Olympics:
“It’s still a special time for me. It’s always an amazing feeling to see your name on the roster for the Olympic Team. Each experience is different. I am going to take what each of these players has given to me, and what the past players have given, and take that into this Olympics.”

U.S. forward Abby Wambach
On the feeling on finally making the final roster:
“There’s probably a sense of relief on everybody’s part. You are under constant evaluation and this is one of the few times on this team that you are actually set (on a roster) for more than a month. So, it’s kind of a relief for everyone, from the veterans down to the players in their first world championship.”

“When we went into the meeting room and saw the names (of the Olympic Team) on the board, that brought me back to all the sacrifices that go into being on this team on a daily basis. Missing family, birthdays, proms, a lot of things people get to experience in normal daily life. That affirmation of those sacrifices in that one moment that you do make a world championship roster. I think it is very special for every single player.”

On Pia Sundhage’s difficult task of choosing the Olympic roster:
“Pia doesn’t have an easy job. I wouldn’t trade jobs with her for anything in the world. This team has so many different personalities and so many different skill sets and abilities that it’s hard from a coaching perspective to really mold all those aspects together. I think Pia is confident and strong enough as a person to be able to make those tough decisions at the end of the day.”

On coming together as a new team with a new coach in 2008:
“The chemistry has just gotten better and better every single day. It’s not too easy for Pia to come into the situation she had to come into, with such a short period of time to prepare for a world championship. U.S. Soccer took a chance at bringing in a new coach and she took a chance coming on. There were a lot of implications and a lot of things we’ve all had to be brave to work through. I think that everybody has had that mindset and that the coaching staff and their bravery in going through this process has really trickled down to the players.”

On Pia Sundhage and the final Olympic preparation:
“Pia loves this game, and ultimately, that’s the most important aspect of being a professional athlete, you have to love it, and we all do. I am really looking forward to playing these last few games before heading over to Beijing.”

U.S. defender Heather Mitts
On making the Olympic Team after missing the 2007 Women’s World Cup due to injury:
“I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet. It’s pretty amazing to think it was a year ago that I was sitting on the sideline watching the whole thing and not being able to be there. I think, if anything, I appreciate this opportunity even more. I still have a long way to go to be where I want to be, but I am going to give it my all and feel blessed to be in this position. I love this team, I love the coaching style and everything about it, so to have this opportunity is the greatest thing ever.”

On what the younger players may be feeling on being selected to the Olympic roster:
“The last Olympics was my first, and granted I was a little older (than most of the 2008 current first-timers), but it’s still special to have the opportunity and it probably hasn’t quite sunk in yet for the younger players. To have the opportunity to be part of the eighteen and represent the USA in the Olympics is one of the greatest feelings you can ever have.”

U.S. defender Stephanie Cox
On being released from the team three weeks ago, only to be re-called due to an injury to Cat Whitehill, then making the final Olympic roster:
“An emotional roller-coaster is an adequate term for it. Three weeks ago when Pia told me I didn’t make the roster, I was devastated, so disappointed, and crushed. It took me a few days for it sink in and grieve a bit, and I was just starting to transition and figure out what was next, maybe looking forward to a relaxing summer and spending time with my husband and family and friends, just trying to find the positives. Just when I was starting to transition, I got called back in, sadly because of Cat’s injury. Then I had to pick back up mentally because I had dropped that mental competitive edge, but things went really well for me here (at the Peace Queen Cup). The coaches were really great about me transitioning in, physically and mentally. The timing was right for when I played, things went well, and it kind of clicked on the field. My motto of the last couple of weeks has been moment by moment so it’s kind of surreal to think about the Olympics in month and a half because so much has been focused on the next practice and the next game.”

U.S. forward Natasha Kai
On making the Olympic Team after struggling in the early part of the year:
“In December and January, I got sick, then came back into camp in February and didn’t do well. I was up and down and I was on the verge of getting cut. I had to prove myself all over again and I had to make a decision if I wanted to do the work to be here. I talked to Christie Ramone and Kate Markgraf and that got my head straight. It took a lot of hard work, but now here I am.”

On making the Olympic team from the small town of Kahuku, Hawaii:
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was five years old to play in the Olympics and now it’s finally come true. It’s exciting and overwhelming to represent the United States in the Olympics and I can’t wait.”

U.S. defender Rachel Buehler
On playing for the U.S. youth teams for seven years before breaking into the full team:
“Playing on the youth teams was amazing, and I think it prepared me year after year, especially as I got older and took on some leadership roles, which was really cool, but it’s such a great feeling to actually be on this team now. It’s always been my dream, that’s why you play on those youth teams. You hope that you will finally break through and it happened. It happened so suddenly for me, too. I was brought late into the process and the whole experience has been very rewarding.”

On the help the veterans have given her:
“The older players have been amazing, especially in the back, because everyone back there is experienced. They have really taken me in and made me feel a part of the team. It’s been awesome to have that. They are such good role models. I’ve leaded so much from all of them about being a good player and a good person and how to balance life. They’ve taught me so much.”

U.S. midfielder Aly Wagner
On returning from injury just in time to make the final roster:
“I was so focused on my goal (during her long rehabilitation). It was baby steps, and it was frustrating, but I had to keep the bigger picture in mind. When I finally could play, I needed to do well enough to put myself into the picture and I had to feel good enough that I could bring something to the party. But I felt that right away when I stepped into practice. There were ups and downs (during the Peace Cup) for sure. The first two games were harder for me than I anticipated. I felt better in the third one and I felt good in the last one.”

U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath
On being the youngest player chosen to the Olympic Team at age 20:
“Being the youngest player on the team is an honor, but it’s also a responsibility. I really feel really fortunate to have come into the team at a time when I’ve had the chance to contribute and I’m so thankful to the coaching staff and the older players for all the guidance they’ve given to all us kids. Now for the younger players, it’s not enough to just be on the Olympic team. We can’t just be happy to be here. We have to keep working really hard in practice to push all the older players and so we can be ready to make an impact if we get the chance to get on the field. It’s a long tournament and it’s going to take the whole team to win.”