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Manya's Musings from the 2005 Nordic Cup: Journal Entry No. 2

Nordic Cup 2005 – Sweden
Journal #2

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Well done, Jillian Ellis. No, not because you’re one of the top women’s soccer coaches in the country, with a 2000 Nordic Cup title on your resume and several trips to the NCAA Final Four with UCLA. It’s because you chose midfielder Manya Makoski to the 2005 Nordic Cup Team.

And that means more “Manya’s Musings,” one of the most popular and well read journals in U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team history (along with legendary journal writer Jena Kluegel, whose current job at a high-powered New York City investment banking firm, we feel, can be traced directly back to her work on

In this second entry, Makoski, a rising senior at Arizona State, checks in from Sweden on the eve of the USA’s first match against Iceland and muses about costumed bowling, shopping for cute stuff, evil birds and a very uncomfortable bicycle.

Welcome back again to Manya’s Musings. I hope you enjoyed the first journal from Nordic Cup 2005 as much as I enjoyed writing it. Today I’ll update you on the escapades of the U.S. U-21 Women’s National Team as we get creative with costumes, get a day off from training, celebrate another birthday and prepare for our first match against Iceland on Wednesday, July 20.


I mean, it’s not like in the pre-trip information packet we were told to “pack several creative and matching costumes.” Finally, random ideas started popping into our heads, but none greater than the idea of using bed sheets as togas (Are we all in college or what?). We thought that this was the greatest idea ever. Psyched as we were with our brilliant idea, Jen and I ran outside to get some leaves for our wreathes like those worn by legendary Greek goddesses! (Really just pre-wrap from the training room with leaves stuck in it). We planned to meet fifteen minutes prior to departure, knowing for sure we would have the best costumes.

Or so we thought…

Tarpley went across the hallway to rival team member Lori Chalupny’s and noticed a pile of fresh-picked leaves on the counter. Hmmmmm? She felt a pang of suspicion and asked Chalupa if they were part of their costume. Chalupa’s nervous “yes” created total havoc in the midfielder group; the defenders had also planned on wearing togas!

As it turned out, they didn’t, but at the time an emergency meeting was called. We had fifteen minutes to figure out a new costume!! After throwing out ideas of wearing the sheets as diapers, being hula girls, or wearing our clothing backwards, we finally decided on being thugs. Yes, thugs, and if you’ve ever seen me, Tarp, Jill, Carli, Sarah and Jen together, you know that’s a stretch. I know it sounds a bit out of the ordinary for American soccer players in Sweden to be going around as “tough girls,” but my high school days of being called a “Pint-Sized Thug” helped me prepare for the role, and I shared some tips with my fellow midfielders. (Side note from high school: I was anything but thuggish, but I was tough).

With one pant leg rolled up, fake-tattoos, sagging pants and tank tops, we walked out into the hallway to witness THE funniest scene ever. The forwards and keepers team were dressed in yellow t-shirts, navy blue spandex, sky blue latex cleaning gloves with the fingers cut off, and deflated soccer balls taped to their heads as crash helmets. They were Team Lance! Their striking resemblance to Tour de France bicycle riders was convincing enough to put them in the running for best costumes. The commotion we made was enough to bring out the third group in to the hallway, the Super Swedes. Dressed in white soccer socks, black shorts, black t-shirts, pre-wrap eye masks, braided pigtails, and capes made out of bed sheets, the made-up Swedish superheroes certainly made their mark. Gathering in the lobby area, we waited for the staff to make their entrance. With white t-shirts, jeans, sun glasses, spiky hair (the women had pig-tails), and eyeliner (yes, even on the guys), the Johnny Rotten Bowlers cruised into the lobby.  Comedy!

We all took some pictures and headed into town (Yes, we did get more than a few stares as the folks probably hadn’t seen a large group of costumed American soccer players too often). Bowling got off to a great start, and although it was briefly interrupted by broken lanes for both us and the Super Swedes, eventually both lanes got fixed, and we finished our game in no time. Jen (a.k.a. Buzz) dominated in our group, bowling some strikes and spares. I, on the other hand, bowled only one strike, good enough to score a big fat 87. Okay, I need to work on my bowling, but I still played with a lot of heart (Much like I did in soccer tennis earlier in the week).

Jill Oakes celebrated her 21st birthday on Monday, July 18. It was also our day off from training, so it was a good day to have a birthday. Well planned Jill, well planned! We decided to go to the mall and since Jill is my usual shopping buddy, we cruised around with the others until we got to our intended shopping target, H&M. As soon as we got into the store, we immediately started looking for the perfect sale. After trying on a couple of items, I settled on a cute skirt, a cute sweatshirt, and a cute halter dress (I love being a girl). Unfortunately, Jill didn’t get anything. I’m not going to lie … I was kind of mad. Sometimes a girl has to treat herself, you know? Especially when it’s her birthday!! Hmmm … Maybe I should have bought her something instead of three things for me? But did I mention they were all very cute?

Later on in the day, a bunch of us decided to take Jill out for dinner. Forward Megan Rapinoe rode one of the bicycles the hotel rents out and defender Mary Castalanelli and I sat on the back of the bicycle where there is a small flat, metal platform. Let me tell you something, that shelf was meant for a small bag of groceries, not two people! I can’t explain to you how my hips were feeling after that ride, but the words “numb” and “fatigued” might be used.

Relieved to be sitting in a normal chair at the restaurant, we celebrated Jill’s birthday with pizza and chicken kabobs. Jill was going to ride the bicycle back to the hotel and she offered to have me sit on the back. While the pain in my hips was still lingering, I wasn’t looking forward to the walk back, especially after eating so much food and being in the early stages of a food coma. As we walked to get the bicycle, a flock of at least 100 dark black birds appeared in the sky above us. It was a swarm! Frozen in place, Jill and I ducked with our arms above our heads, as everyone else quickly (and what a smart idea it was) moved under the overhang of the building. I knew birds were creatures of nature, but these were definitely evil. They were trying to hit us! One of the birds let out a dropping so close to Jill and me that she almost jumped on me, letting go of the bicycle, but we escaped without any damage.

On Wednesday night, July 20, we play our first game against Iceland. This is it. This is what we have been working for since January. Finally we get to stop kicking each other around, and challenge a real opponent. We are excited to start the tournament, but a bit nervous for what lies ahead as we know this starts a stretch of four really tough games in just seven days. We don’t know much about our first opponent, but women from Iceland tend to be a skillful and just a bit bigger than us. (Of course, everyone is a bit bigger than me). Personally, I am super-psyched to play Iceland’s U-21 team as one of the girls on their team will be coming to my college at Arizona State this fall. See you on the pitch Bjorg!!

My concluding thought: So it’s been four days, and I have yet to see an IKEA. I’m kind of disappointed to say the least.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday afternoon, July 17, in Karlstad, Sweden, was not your typical “relax and go for a Sunday drive in the family Volvo” type of day. The coaches decided that a nice bowling competition would get our competitive spirits bubbling more than a second training session in the afternoon. They were right. The four teams were divided up by position: defenders, midfielders, forwards and ‘keepers together, and the staff. Each team had to come up with a unique costume theme to wear during the competition. When my midfielders group met (my roommate Lindsay Tarpley, Jill Oakes, Carli Lloyd, Sarah Huffman, and Jen Buczkowski), we were initially lost for ideas.


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