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Postcard From Brazil: U-20 WNT Defender Nikki Krzysik

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. Today, 18-year-old defender Nikki Krzysik, a Clifton, N.J. native, checks in from Teresopolis, Brazil, where the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team is playing in the three-team Ricardo Teixeira Cup, against Canada and Brazil. The U.S. team opened the competition with a disappointing 2-2 draw with Canada, but still has three matches left. Today, the U.S. co-captain and “First Year” at the University of Virginia talks about her unique Easter, a bug that came straight out of the new King Kong movie and why American girls might have some “ginga” after all.

Hello from Brazil! This is my first time in Brazil, and I think we are lucky to be up in the mountains in Teresopolis above Rio de Janeiro and away from the craziness of that city. It is so green and beautiful here and not as hot as it would be down in Rio, but it’s still pretty humid, which just isn’t good for my hair. And if you’ve seen my hair, you know what I am talking about. Think Monica on “Friends” when they went to the Caribbean.

When I first learned about this trip, I was sad because I knew I wouldn’t be able to spend Easter with my family, but now that I’m here, I’ve realized that this team is my second family and there are no other girls I’d rather be with. On Easter morning, almost the whole team went to a Mass at a Brazilian church. It was all in Portuguese, so I couldn’t understand a word, but the environment made this Easter celebration special. The church, which was simple and elegant, was packed with people and everyone seemed to be excited to be there. One of the highlights of the service was when a group of about 50 kids started singing and dancing. I felt like their energy was leading everybody else. It was a great experience to go to a Mass in another country.

As we are up in the mountains in a tropical country, you might think there would be some big bugs around. You are correct! I went into my bathroom the other day and under the towel on the floor was a long, worm-like bug with thousands of legs! First, I didn’t know what to do. What was it? Was it poisonous? So I finally got up enough courage to go in the bathroom and I flipped a towel on it. I didn’t know if I would suffocate it or what? Frankly, my logic was flawed at that time, as I was freaked out. My teammates tried to give me some advice about what to do with the critter, but they had no idea what they were talking about. So then I went back in and threw another towel on it, picked up both towels, ran outside and threw the towels on the ground. But that really didn’t help because the beast was still on the deck and might try to head back into my room!

So then, our team administrator Amy told me to throw another towel at it so it would crawl on the towel and I could chuck it over the balcony, but he didn’t want to crawl on the towel. Then our crazy head coach Tim Schulz came out and picked the thing up! And he was playing with it! He thought it was really cool. All I wanted was for him to get rid of it, so he put it in a big planter and I was saved.

On Easter Sunday after Mass, we all piled into a small bus and took a 5,000 hour bus ride down to Rio (okay, only two hours) where I was stuffed into a corner because the seat in front of me was pushed all the way back and Kelsey Davis decided it was okay to sleep on her seat and half of mine. But, the trip was worth it when we pulled up to the famous Ipanema beach in Rio. I was in the water for the majority of time, which was wonderfully warm. It wasn’t like the Jersey Shore, that’s for sure. The waves were actually quite large and crashed quite hard, which made our game of “dead man” with Sarah Wagenfuhr, Tobin Heath and Jordan Angeli quite an adventure. You see, you have to stand in front of the wave and the last person to jump out of the way wins! I think we all lost. I got smacked good a few times. Wags got her face buried in the sand one time.

It was a beautiful day and not too hot, so it was perfect. The only issue arose when we tried to buy ice cream on the beach and the crooked seller tried to charge us double! I ain’t paying six bucks for a freakin’ Drumstick! (Sorry, the Jersey in me came out there). We waited until an honest ice cream seller came by and we practically exhausted his stock. We all laid out, listened to music, and got in some good relaxation after our annoying 2-2 tie with Canada the day before. We actually played one of our best games together as a team, and had tons of chances, but couldn’t quite get it done inside the 18s, both offensively and defensively. No one is happy about the tie, but we are all positive and getting more experienced on how to close out games. We play Brazil’s U-20s on the 19th and I think we’ll be ready because a couple of the girls already beat up on some Brazilians at the beach.

Allie Long, Tina DiMartino and Lauren Cheney jumped into a beach soccer game with some 14 or 15-year old boys and it was hilarious. They did awesome and every time they would dribble past a boy, all the other boys would die laughing. It was getting a bit serious and one of the boys started protesting that he had scored a goal, which really went outside the flip-flop (the goals were flip-flops stuck in the sand). Allie put her fists to her eyes and started going “whaa-whaa” like a baby, telling the kid he was a cry-baby. All the rest of the boys burst out laughing, and so did the crybaby. It was a great day.

We are all excited to play Brazil as we know it will be a different kind of game than we’ve experienced all year. Hopefully, we can polish up our finishing, and tighten our back line, and we’ll come out on top.

Oh, and to my family back in Clifton, New Jersey…Happy Easter!

C-ya lata,
Nikki is the official website of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States