Monday, July 4, 2016

Philippines National Team Update: Week 3

Philippines UPDATE:


Today marks Week 3 of my time in the Philippines. The last two weeks have felt like two months! Manila traffic is no joke! I also have been feeling like I am living in The Challenge House again, but the far less glamorous version of it, sans drama too!

Cooldown
We are all currently living in the Philippines Sports Complex known as Ultra. I have been here before and it is still a place I wouldn't pick to stay, but you must deal with cards you are dealt and carry on! Team bonding is at an all time high. We are starting to mesh. You won't see the filams (filipino americans) in one room and the local based players in another. We are in three rooms and even in down time we are all mixed  We are blending well and one thing you should know about us filipinos is that we love to joke! Lots of laughs and memories are being made in the time we are not on the soccer field.
Goofing around after practice with some of my teammates

As for soccer, we are getting there! We are grasping our concepts and figuring it out. I enjoy listening to others speak in Tagalog because I try to see if I know what everyone is saying. I really want to learn, but it is hard at my age!! There are times where I definitely have to ask questions to make sure I understand. I am sort of used to this from my time in Sweden when I really had to ask questions and get the english version! It's a process, but it is really cool to see soccer from multiple perspectives and cultures!
Talking football with the fathers of football in the Philippines

Besides soccer and hanging with my teammates, I have also got the opportunity to visit with my cousins based in Manila. It has been great to get to know them more as I have only been able to see them face to face a few times in my life! Family is family and it doesn't matter because we are there for each other no matter what! I am learning new things about them and myself every day. It's a beautiful experience even in the tough times. I really appreciate the life that I have and all that I have. Can't wait to get into next week with a focused mindset on our tournament. It's only 3 weeks away!! Let's do this!
Spending downtime with my cousins in Taguig

Peace out! <3 Cookie,



Philippines National Team Week 1

Hi peepsss! Just a little update for me. I have settled in Manila. Still adjusting the time difference. First, a few of my teammates and I stayed at the infamous Ultra (Philippine Sports Complex). Renovations have been made, but they are still on their way. They were successful in their rat trap we had in the hallway. Poor Erwin passed away the other day from starvation I am guessing. The cats are going crazy. ‪#‎onlyinthephilippines‬
The 'filams'--we all flew out to training camp to compete for spots on the
AFF 2016 roster to be held in Myanmar July 26th-August 5th
The weather is HOTT! Heat index 108. Makes soccer super interesting! I am losing water through sweat faster than I can drink it. The first day I came off the plane, met two of the girls for lunch, and then went right to the first training session! Today is my first day off and I am enjoying it through rest and hydration. Ordered a massage last night before sleep. At 250 pesos ($6), I will be getting these weekly.
Enjoying the beach on a rest day with my former teammates and friends!

Everything else has been awesome. It feels great to be back in my second home. I am so happy interacting with all the players no matter where they are from. Each of them, I feel as if we are long lost sisters. It's hard to explain. Through these experiences, I find myself and my identity. It's overwhelming, emotional, and magical. This is literally the greatest feeling in my life to do the work I do here. To play soccer with my long lost sisters.. talk about enjoying the moment and life fulfillment..Though we have a bigger job to do than just enjoy our life here! We are here to perform. We are here to do represent. When AFF comes in July, we must present the best team yet and do the best we have yet. Every tournament, game, or even practice, we must try to be our best, so that this team will continue to grow and develop. One day, you will see the Philippines in the Women's World Cup. This dream has already begun. Maybe I won't be there, but I am a part of it now and am ready to help do my part! ‪#‎Laban‬ ‪#‎Malditas‬ ‪#‎PWNT‬ ‪#‎TeamPilipinas‬

Group picture of all those that attended tryouts!

Ready for take off


Getting to know Coach Buda!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I'm Back Part 2

So we left off with my finishing up my Euro Trip. I came home in October and had no idea where to go from there.  I knew I had an itch to live somewhere else and I always wanted to go to California! A few months later after networking at the annual coaching convention, I decided to move to LA.

The move wasn't that tough as I had a lot of family and friends out there to ease the transition.  I had soccer friends, high school friends, and even real world friends.  You know what I even had friends that I had met at the Coast Guard Academy AIM program that I met one summer back in high school. It is crazy how small this world is!

Anyway, I started working for Beast Mode Soccer as a trainer and an assistant. What an experience! I still work for them and it's incredible. I have learned so much as a trainer and even as an admin assistant.  The best part is that I am doing soccer things! It is connected me with even more people.  I have been able to train with women's soccer pros including Whitney Engen, Rachel Daly, Emma Kete, the list continues. I met Soccer Grl Probs which mind you were my college rivals back in the day!! We had a blast, but Loyola will always be better than Fairfield ;) . For whatever reason, LA is a hub for many people on business and leisure travel so I ran into my teammate from Canada that I played with in Sweden. My dad, brother, and uncle visited.  My brother's friends actually lived there. I finally met my social contact Chris Gorres, who is now my sports performance trainer.  I mean there is just a lot going on in LA!  If you get past all the superficial fakes, you will find a good time and good people. This past year has really been a good one in my transition from player to who knows what is next for me!  Though, we all know I am still playing.. which will bring me to my next post on the Philippines National Team.

View from my aunt and uncle's deck in Marina del Rey!

Carmen the Canadian that was passing thru LA on 
St. Paddy's Day and went out of her way to come see me!!

Just training with Whitney Engen, World Cup gold medalist!

Hanging out with my Santa Clarita soccer teammates in Colorado 
during one of our away game weekends!

Randomly meeting Alex Morgan in Hermosa Beach 
across my old work spot of Hennessey's!

When I visited the my fam on the East Coast, Trainer Chris Gorres let me 
jump in a session with these soccer studs, Crystal Dunn, 
Ali Kreiger, Ashlyn Harris, and Yael Averbuch!


Slim, Lauren Holiday, David Copeland-Smith, and I 
working at Lauren and Jrue's Soccer Camp at UCLA


A still clip from some of the stuff 
we shot out in LA for Beast Mode Soccer!

Soccer Grl Probs!! Love these girls Alanna, Carly, and Shannon

The Beast Mode Soccer Team at the NSCAA Convention


Finally my fam out in Cali! Rest in peace Uncle Larry.
 I am happy to have spent some extra time with you before you left this earth.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

I'm back!! Part 1

Hi Ya'll!

I am finally back!! It's been almost 2 years since I have posted,  but I will fill you in on what's been going on!

Since I last posted.. well first, I finished up the season with Landsbro IF in Sweden. Gosh I had such a good time and find myself missing my teammates, the country, and fika!!  


My teammates of Landsbro IF in Vetlanda, Sweden


I was so happy that my parents were able to come and visit me and see the country.  We all enjoyed Midsommar with my host family and got an authentic experience. 
At my host family's lake house celebrating midsummer!

This leads me to one of my favorite memories of Sweden where my teammates and I went to an EDM concert in Gothenburg.  What craziness that was!!  Some how I was able to get back stage and take a shot of Yager with Tiesto.  Skål! (Cheers in Swedish!)
Summerburst in Gothenburg 

I made the video around 30s .. :)

Halfway through the season, we got a month break and I took advantage of being in Europe! First, my sister met me in Greece for a week trip where we met up with one of my college buddies who's family is from there. Oh man do I miss the food and the frappes! The water is unreal beautiful and the people are so generous. 


Sis and I in Athens at a hostel

On an uninhabited island well except for goats! 
The island in the background is Kasos where we stayed!

My next trip was to visit a teammate from the Philippines National Team who is based in Germany. She lives in Aachen.  We took day trips to Brussels, Amsterdam, Maastricht, and met one of our other teammates in Colonge. 


At a German carnival. Think beer gardens galore!!

I am in 3 countries at once! Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.

What a welcome from my philippines teammate, Cristina!

Soccer everywhere in Europe!

Amsterdam

From there I decided to go solo and take a train down to Munich. What a great idea! After enjoying a beer or two or three :) at the Hofbrauhaus, I toured Allianz Arena, home of Bayern Munich, and then took a bus to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. Both were definitely cool places to see!


Bayern Munich's Locker Room
Neuschwanstein Castle


I then took a train to Berlin and did some serious historical sightseeing. Next, I made my way to Copenhagen where I met up with one of my friend's from California who was attending music school there. Copenhagen was beautiful and the people were so chill and friendly!


Copenhagen

Finally, I made it back to Sweden. After finishing out the season, and even playing goalie for a few games (mad respect for goalkeepers!!), I couldn't help but make one last stop on the way home at London to catch a Chelsea game at Stamford Bridge.  

All in all, a good freaking experience!

Next post will fill you in on my time out in Los Angeles with Beast Mode Soccer!

Peace out,

Cooke



Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A beautiful day. A beautiful game. A beautiful life.

I know it has been awhile and that I have some updating to do, but I had a beautiful day today and feel as if it should be shared.

I decided to go to the turf field a bike ride away to do some skill work this afternoon.  It was a tough decision.. work on my golf swing.. or work on my soccer skills.. both are in need of work, but considering we had no practice today.. I had to touch the soccer ball!  

Upon arriving to the field, I saw a kid walking to the benches with his soccer bag.  Darn it.. of course I decide to go to the this field when they have a practice or a game about to commence!  Well, I asked the kid just to make sure.  He said there was no game or practice that he was just here as well.   I started putting on my stuff and beginning my little routine.  Turn on my bluetooth speaker.. gonna play Drake/Lil Wayne Mix.. I aint got no worries ;) and start juggling a tennis ball.. yes a tennis ball!!! Check out beastmodesoccer.com (that and other helpful people --cough cough Oni Soccer Academy-- have helped me get to a whole other level (especially as a centerback it's hott to be technical- think Sergio Ramos) . 

Anyways.. as I juggle, two other boys show up and ohh how I love pressure!! and so of course I break my record and get to 39 juggles on tennis ball. That is a lot for me considering I started at 3 the first time I tried earlier this year!  Sometimes I skip juggling the tennis ball because yes it is extremely frustrating when I am not good at something already-- maybe why I opted for soccer over golf today too! I feel the three boys eyes on me.  I know they are watching.  I mean it is kind of weird to see an American woman juggling at a random field in a random small town in Sweden. Somehow I know I will be kicking the ball around with these kids.  There are three of them and one of me. Four just seems like more fun.  But I really do need to work on my footwork so I begin, but still put off the vibe that yes I will play with you guys!  

Sure enough, after I get over 1000 touches in (you can learn how to do 600 in 6 minutes here-> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REyRmHapZFg ), I get asked to play! Up until this point the kids have just been shooting on goal, with no warm up, no rhythm, no rhyme.  At 25.. no can't be doing that! I hope we quickly change games and get some competition going.  

After a quick introduction, "yes I play for Landsbro IF, yes I only speak english, and my position is center back, yeahhhh I am 25…," David suggests that we play World Cup!  How fitting!  World Cup just around the corner. The ball I brought is obviously the World Cup ball (but winter edition because I like to be different and because it was a gift to me ;) ). David is originally from Spain. I am from the states.  The other two boys David (another David yes) and Mohamed have their own backgrounds as well.  And here we are the four of us, all with our own stories, but all with the same passion, connected by this one ball.  How beautiful is that? 

After I take a few shots that were completely terrible, I kid and say that is why I am center back.  In my head I know I will take it to these guys.  Yes they are 13 and I am 25, but that doesn't matter. For me, for today, this is my world cup.  I have everything to prove! So after I give these kids false hope, the set up will be one in goal and then the three of us will play against each other. First to three goals wins.  Guess who wins :D?.  And yes of course I was trying-- 1) I am not that good to not try! 2) you can't just turn it off and 3) I do not like losing one bit!  

Well now these kids are a little impressed.  If only I could take this confidence with me everywhere.  Right now in this moment, I feel myself.  I feel calm, collect, at peace.  Other than my head/jaw still throbbing from trying to save a shot going in which then hit me in the side of the head.. and then shortly after that I was going up for a ball and got elbowed in the mouth.. But I feel GOOD!  Mind you when these painful acts happened, I pretended I wasn't even hit.  But I was hit.. and kinda hard..  and as I type I still feel both :) . But while those boys were being worried about me.. I was obviously chasing after the ball and putting it on frame.  Take advantage of your opportunities!  No time to whine about my face.  Kind of like how we some times stop and whine about our mistakes.  DONT STOP!!! GO FIX IT!!! CHASE AFTER IT!!! Sorry pet peeve of mine!  In life and in football.. It's what you do after your mistakes that define you.  We are human.  Mistakes are an inevitable part of life.  After a mistake.. what can u do to make it better.. For example... If you lose the ball, you are probably the closest one to it, so why don't you go win it back instead of whining how you took a bad touch or whine that your teammate didn't pass it perfectly to you.  Like I said.. we don't have time for that!

Okay okay- now to the highlight of my day.  After a few more games, I was tiring pretty quickly (cut me some slack, I already hit the gym earlier in the day! and 13 yr olds can run forever!), so we began to talk soccer and take a break from playing.  David told me that I am the best female player he's ever seen. And I said, "in this town?". And he said, "no, in my life. and I am from Spain so I have seen many good players." Well at 13, this kid has never watched women's soccer in his life and so he can really only make this judgement off of the random girls that find their way into a group of boys to play ball-- basically me and maybe even only me.  Regardless, what a statement for anyone to hear.  Here I am playing World Cup and David of Spain just told me I am the best footballer he has ever seen.  I will take that for what it is worth.  To me that means a lot.  It means even as a kid, he can see my passion, my hard work, my determination, and what I have been doing my whole life; all in this little game of World Cup.  Little moments like these, we should really appreciate :) !  


Epilogue

After we talked more about the soccer, we juggled a bit.  He mentioned seeing me juggling with a tennis ball and I told him to try it.  Three more kids on their way to #beastmode. I hope to see these kids around.  On my bike ride back, soccer practices all over were beginning to commence.  I reflected on the last hour and my time here Sweden.  I feel very fortunate to have these opportunities to follow my dreams, live my passion, travel the world, meet wonderful people, and try to inspire others to do the same.  Thanks to all that have contributed to my journey and thanks in advance to all in the future. 

In the meantime.. challenge for my readers.. see how many times you can juggle a tennis ball! :)

PS. I know I am not the best female soccer player.. obviously there are people like Marta, Alex Morgan, Sawa, etc who I guess.. are better than me.. But you can't take away dear 13 yr old David's opinion unless you come over here to Vetlanda, Sweden and show me up yourself and KICK IT WITH COOKIE!!! XD

<3,

Cookie

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hej Hej

Hej hej!! Hello from Sweden!!! I'm finally settled in my new town of Vetlanda.  This is my first time in this beautiful country and I have to say it's an easy adjustment!   

The swedes have gone the extra mile to make us (myself and two other teammates that both played soccer at University of Wyoming) comfortable.  Right now we stay in a guest house in a nice little neighborhood a 5 minute walk away from the center of town.  It's spacious, clean, and cozy!  Of course, the girls got to go to IKEA to get some essentials for our home for the next 6 months (our own choice of sheets, towels, etc.). Also, we have a fully furbished kitchen and bathroom equipped with a washing machine!  There really is nothing I can complain about. 

Everyday we get to eat at the hotel in town.  It's actually a Best Western, but you wouldn't know it if the sign wasn't displayed.  Upon walking in there are real candles lit through out the lobby and dining area.  On nice days we can eat on the patio decorated with flowers in dainty pots and oh man is there sun here!! No wonder the swedes are considered the world's happiest people.  Though, I haven't been here in winter!  Back to the food, it's actually delicious.  We eat both breakfast and lunch here during the week.  For breakfast they have meats, cheeses, yogurt parfait buffet, and they always have a massive basket of all different types of bread (which I naturally try to avoid-but of course sometimes I can't resist!).  They also have hard boiled eggs, bacon, and scrambled eggs.  I usually have yogurt w/ muesli, raisins, finely shredded coconut, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, chopped hazelnuts, raspberries, a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon! There is always fruit to grab too.  They have a coffee machine, regular, coffee, and an extensive tea collection!  

Now to lunch, which is amazing!  When we first walk in for lunch we ask what is on the menu since we cannot speak or read swedish!  I've picked up a few words and know usually what meat or fish it is, but no idea how it will be prepared.  They have a different lunch every day with a second option in case you don't like there main dish.  Then we fix ourselves a salad or grab a cup of soup.  Once again, there is always is bread!  The salad bar is on point.  They have a mixed green house salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, etc.  Then there are various other salads that change day to day.  My favorite are their bean salads that often have cashews added- a nice addition if you ask me.  We are served lunch shortly after we walk in and every meal thus far has been good.  Usually it is meat with potatoes and vegetables, but I have also had tuna and salmon.  They offer a lot of pork here, but it's tasty.  And, if we are up to spoiling our athlete diets, they have ice-cream and coffee cookies/cake at lunch.  For dinner we are on our own, but I don't mind because we like to cook!  Carmen has made us tacos and last night I made some coconut curry stir fry :). 

On to the town…  Everything is walking distance for the most part, but having a bike is definitely a bonus (and yes we have bikes). There is the gym, grocery store, a couple salons, a theater, a bowling alley, a liquor/beer/wine store and other little shops including H&M!  We are pretty much set.  There is no Starbucks, but Vetlanda has their own coffee place.  We go here A LOT.  They call it "fika" and we will spend hours just sitting outside talking and sipping coffee.  The place also has a bakery and tasty treats--but once again I try to avoid!  The portions here are much smaller than the states.. and so are the people for the matter! Well, they are all tall, but almost none obese. As for going out, the hotel actually turns into a bar/club on Saturday nights.  There are 3 different bars- a lounge area in the basement and the other two upstairs near the dance floor.  They play house music, but I don't mind!!  This means a lot of me jumping up and down and everyone wondering what's wrong with me.. but I thought that's how you dance to house music! Either way, great place for the young people to go.  

The chairman of our team always checks in on us and makes sure everything is going well.  He has asked if there is anything we would like to do etc.. and I said I wouldn't mind access to the golf course and where I could find some trails.  He has shown us both. The nature here is unreal.  I feel like I am living in a romantic novel, but where's my husband!? The streams, trees, flowers, wildlife, and lakes are plentiful here. The peacefulness they have translate to the people.  Everyone is so nice!  They are classy, educated, mannered, and mature-- think the opposite of a college town! But everyone lets loose every once in awhile.. after a few drinks anyway!  Ahh the only drawback here,alcohol must be purchased before 2pm on Saturday or you will wait until Monday.  Apparently the government believed there to be a drinking problem in Sweden, but not anything crazier than what I see in other places around the world!  We are here to play soccer anyway so it doesn't really affect us. 

Here would be a typical day for us:
Breakfast at the hotel
Bike ride to a turf field for a technical session with the local school
Lunch at the hotel
Gym sesh or see the trainer or Fika!
Get picked up by coach or teammate for team practice which is in the next town over
Make/eat dinner
Watch champions league or whatever football match is on :)

Like I said.. I can't complain!

<3,
Cookie

our lovely neighborhood

the guest house we stay in
our field
one of our practice fields

Carmen (Canadian), Ashlyn (California), and myself
my cappucino at "fika"
Carmen and I on one of the trails

crossing the bridge

crossing another bridge

doing a back bend on a bridge

panorama of a bridge!





Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'M FINALLY PRO!

I'm finally PRO!!!! After 21 years I am here! I think from the beginning, I knew I would not stop until I accomplished this goal.  My mom told me I couldn't wait to play soccer and that I was upset when they wouldn't let me play when I was 3 1/2!  And even at 4, I would push whoever to get the ball including my own teammates! I don't know where this innate desire to play came from.  I would say it started from my older brother who played and once this game peaked interest I couldn't stop.  Soccer and family are the two things that have been consistent and present in my life.  I don't know what I would do without either of them.  I am so grateful to be able to play the wonderful game at 25. But the number one reason I am made it here.. I never gave up!

Wow, it has been a journey.  Growing up in a smaller town, it was hard to find better competition.  I played on an all boys team at 9.  In middle school, I played an age group up on a travel team in the next county.  In high school, I had commitments to 3 soccer teams (high school-Leonardtown, Maryland Olympic Development Program-ODP, and club-Bethesda).  ODP and Bethesda had practices year round with most of them two hours away.  And then I played at Loyola University Maryland and in the summers I played on travel teams as well. Post college I really didn't know what I wanted to do with my life.  Two summers after I graduated I randomly googled the Philippines if they had a national team.  I emailed the federation and less than two months later I was playing in my first tournament for my mom's home country! I would play for the Philippines in the fall, find work in the spring, and then play in a semipro league in the summer wherever soccer called me- one summer in Jacksonville, Florida and last summer in Santa Clarita, California.  I wrote a status on Facebook how I needed a place to stay in FL and someone I had met a few months ago that worked for an international company that sponsored my Philippines team had a brother in Jax with a place I could stay.  In Cali, my coach had a filipino friend who had friend who had a friend where I could stay! And in the Philippines, I mostly stayed with some of my teammates in my coach's house! This is what my dad refers to as my gypsy life! Anyway, I continued to develop as a player and got invited to the preseason camp for the National Women's Soccer League's (NWSL) Washington Spirit.  Unfortunately, a week later I was cut.  But, I didn't stop!

This year I got invited to the Chicago Red Stars training camp.  I got to train with their team for three weeks.  I actually knew their athletic trainer because she went to school with one of my teammates from the Philippine National Team! Such a small world.  I stayed with her for duration of camp.  Last year when I was with the spirit I was more than overwhelmed.  I simply was not at the level, but I knew I could be.  I worked on my technical ability and it definitely improved.  However, at Chicago things still went over my head.  It was such a learning process though.  As player I learned a lot and was challenged day in and day out.  From a coaching perspective  I gained valuable knowledge for my future.  Not as many coaches as you think have gotten this sort of exposure.  While I am playing, I am always trying to take coaching courses and gain experience, so when that unfortunate day when I can't play competitively any more comes, I can hopefully get a job coaching. 

Shortly before I arrived at Chicago, I was offered to play for a team in Sweden.  One of my teammates from Loyola had played over there and I had been in talks with her contact.  He found me a team and I signed the contract.  I have never been to Sweden and I didn't know much about the team or the league, but this opportunity was exactly what I wanted.  I get to continue to ball (and I am actually baller status now as it is a professional contract!) and I get to travel.  What 25 year old doesn't want to be traveling and playing professional sports!?  This is exactly what I want to be doing right now and I am happy to say my journey continues!!  I will be playing for Landsbro IF and living in Vetlanda, Sweden.  I cannot wait! 









Below are some pics and links from my soccer career and I will definitely be blogging my adventures in Sweden. So stay tuned and thanks for the support!

<3,
Cookie


Already protecting myself and the ball ;)
Even my school work was about soccer
Freshman year at Leonardtown
Freshman year at Loyola
AFC Cup Qualifiers in Bangladesh after I scored the first goal against Iran
AFF Tournament in Myanmar 
Preseason Camp w/ the Chicago Redstars


Raider's Cooke has drive to succeed- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902366.html

Cooke provides a spark for Leonardtown- http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/28/AR2005092800105.html

Cooke's world- http://www.somdnews.com/article/20121120/SPORTS/711209728/1047/cooke-s-world&template=southernMaryland

‘Maldita’ runs away from Real World, meets kindred spirit- http://sports.inquirer.net/17095/‘maldita’-runs-away-from-real-world-meets-kindred-spirit

Heather Cooke:  Philippine Malditas' Jock of All trades- http://thelifeline-wvsucn.journ.ph/2012/11/03/heather-cooke-philippine-malditas-jock-of-all-trades/

Washington Spirit select six in supplemental draft- http://washingtonspirit.com/pro/washington-spirit-select-six-players-in-first-nwsl-supplemental-draft/

Red Stars announce announce 25 player preseason roster- http://chicagoredstars.com/chicago-red-stars-announce-25-player-preseason-roster/

Also, one of the people that participated in my fundraiser for my fam in the Philippines bought my national team jersey on ebay and displayed it-> http://thehistoryofwomensfootball.com/philippines.html

Lastly, my announcement with my new team in Sweden-> http://www.laget.se/LANDSBROIF_dam/News/3396008/ANNU-ETT-NYFORVARV