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Postcard From Russia: U-20 WNT Defender Stephanie Logterman

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, 20-year-old defender Stephanie Logterman, a born and bred Texan out of the great city of Austin, checks in from Moscow, Russia, where the USA is preparing for its final group match at the 2006 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Championship. Logterman, a sophomore at the University of Texas, talks about how she is much more smiley than the average Russian, why you must make sure your drug test paperwork is filled out properly and how Catchphrase can be one of the most intense competitions you’ll find off a soccer field.

Hello from Russia! Having lived in the Great State of Texas my entire life, I’ve come to know that everyone is very friendly, everyone smiles and everyone waves. In general, there is a warm, homey atmosphere. The people in Russia have certainly been great to us, especially at our hotel, but while walking on the streets of Moscow all my smiles have been returned with stern glares. I hate to admit it, but it is driving me crazy! I am used to a returned smile, but I am not a beaten woman. I have resolved myself to be friendly no matter what and I will warm the hearts of the Russians, one Russian at a time! Unless we play Russia on the field, then no smiles from me, until after the game.

So, after our first game against the Congo, Jordan Angeli and I were randomly chosen for drug testing. Jordan didn’t play the second half, so she was able to drink the entire time and easily gave her sample after the match. She was on the team bus and headed back to the hotel. Me? Well, I drank three sports drinks, two waters and I still couldn’t go! An hour and a half later, I finally mustered up enough for the sample. We hopped in a van and were almost back to the hotel when we got a call: “There is something wrong with your drug test, please come back.” Grrrrrrrrrr!! So we headed all the way back to the stadium and, as it turned out, the lady had written the numbers on the wrong line and she just had to change them while I watched. At least I didn’t have to go again. Why do they drug test us anyway? Unless they are testing for dried mango fruit strips, Starburst candy, beef jerky or trail mix, they are not going to get a positive from this group.

Last night we traded clothes with the Brazilians and the New Zealanders. (Is that what you call someone from New Zealand?). Honestly, we gave most of our stuff to the Brazilians because they really don’t have anything compared to us. We are so blessed to play for the USA and have the U.S. Soccer Federation, Nike (and don’t forget EQ guys J-Pizzle and J-Biggs!) who give us mounds of great soccer gear. The poor Brazilians don’t get to keep hardly anything after the tournament is over. Tobin Heath and I pretty much gave away some things that we didn’t need for team dress and stuff. I did get a sweet “New Zealand Football” shirt. It was definitely the catch of the day.

The other day we took a boat tour down the Moscow River. Inclement weather caused us to stay inside the boat for most of the tour, and to keep ourselves busy we started an intense game of Catchphrase. You know the game…you pass around a beeping device that displays words or phrases that you have to get your teammates to guess without saying any of the words! You pass it between the teams and whoever has it when it buzzes loses the point! My team (named “Tit for Tat” due to our inability to guess that phrase in the warm-up round) took on “Team Guarana” (left over from our favorite soda, and really our favorite word, from Brazil). We were playing to 15 points and at one time we were down 9-3. Thus began “The Great Comeback on the Moscow River.” It could become Catchphrase legend. Anyway, it came down to the final round, with the score tied at 14-14! The device fell to Tobin Heath and she was clearly flustered with her word. She kept throwing out phrases like, “bomb, peace organization, countries!!” We had no idea what she was trying to get us to guess. Then she said it was four letters, and just as the beeps were intensifying to the end, we shouted, “NATO, NATO, NATO!!!” North Atlantic Treaty Organization! She thrust the device to Amanda Poach, team leader of Team Guarana, and it buzzed! Victory for “Tit for Tat!” We kind of missed the point of the boat ride, which was to look at the amazing sites of the city, but the game was too intense to give up.

We played Argentina on Aug. 21 and they put up quite a fight. The first goal we scored was one of the best goals of the tournament. The sophistication of the runs and the touches were impressive, as well as the finish. The off-the-ball movement was great to watch and, if I was a fan, I would have enjoyed that goal. I was on the field and enjoyed it even more. We were disappointed as a back line that we gave up a goal, as we always want the shutout, but we got the win. We are not satisfied yet with our play because we know we can play better and we are excited to try to bring out our best soccer in the next game against France.

I must say I have been having a good time in Russia and the team is working hard. My teammates here on the U-20s are fantastic. All of them are great players and great people, but I do miss my teammates back at UT. Good job with the pre-season win, ladies! I can’t wait to see you all. Hopefully, my locker is still there when I get back.

Have a good day, y’all.