Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Oh Todo, we aren't in America anymore!

Well we have all heard of the success of USA in the Olympics.  I think a big part of that success comes with the resources all the athletes have available to them.  For nations that don't have those kind of resources, I assure you it is more difficult to achieve success!

For 4 years I played Division 1 soccer.  I had full scholarship which included housing, food, and of course an education.  Though full ride or not, the team had its perks too.  We were completely outfitted with gear including: 2 pairs of cleats, practice gear, 2 full uniform kits, travel outfit, warm-up jacket and pants, rain gear, winter jacket, duffel bag, travel bag, school backpack, team hoodie and sweatpants, and more!  When we had away games we took a coach bus and stayed in nice hotels.  We got allowances for food and snacks and had team dinners at restaurants like Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory.  Everything was provided for us.  It's almost sickening thinking of the money that goes into our program when I think about how things are different elsewhere, mainly the Philippines.

So here I am now playing for the Philippine National Team.  We certainly don't have even close to the resources I had in college, but honestly for football I would do nearly anything (I just might complain a lot!).  Though my time here really does but things in perspective and it makes me feel grateful for all the resources I did have growing up.  And while I whine about the few days we stay in the dorms at "Ultra," some of the girls are living there the whole time we train!

Right now we are preparing for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Tournament in Vietnam Sept 13-22.  We will play Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore.  The other group consists of Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.  Then there will be semifinals and a final.  Because we have teammates coming in from all over the Philippines and the world, we are doing mini camps where the whole team stays at one place:  "Ultra."

Ultra is a place where all national athletes of all sports can stay during times of training and for other reasons.  Some of our girls stay there when we are preparing for tournament. Others stay at their college dorms or with their families.  People also trying out for the team will some times stay here.  Last year as well as this year I stay with my teammate and her family as well as some other teammates.  It's an AWESOME set up and makes me think I could definitely have a life here!  Minimal stress!  I am talking maids, drivers, home massage, home manis and pedis.  I must admit it is very nice and I am so thankful for staying here.  Then there is "Ultra." 

I could not stay at Ultra for more than I would ever have to!  Anyone that does I give them serious props!  The dorms apparently used to be worse, but even now.. I think I have just been spoiled!  We have two rooms there for mini camp, each with 5 sets of bunk beds (10 beds each room).  We have a bathroom with one sink and mirror and 3 stalls of toilets/showers (refer to pictures below!). I think being told stories before my stay here also freaked me out.  Apparently it is haunted with a ghost.. I do not do well with that!!!  It also is apparently decorated with dog and cat crap.. well the place is definitely infested with cats that are freakin creapy! They roam the hallways and stare and hiss or run away.  I am not a cat person and now I hate cats more! lol.  We do have closet space/cabinets, a nice lil rug, couch, and desk.  The bunk beds are patriotically painted red and blue.  I think if I could get over the cats and bathroom I'd be more comfortable, but there is also no fridge and microwave in our room.  The other room does have a microwave and rice cooker and water dispenser, but imagine leaving there for 3 months with no refrigerator or kitchen. I forgot to mention that my laundry is washed and folded at the house! Ultra.. not so much. We only stay for a few days so most of the time just washing a sports bra or something, but the other girls who live there! Lot of times they are just doing their own laundry old fashioned style! God bless my teammates! They really do it all! School, work, taking care of themselves, all while playing on a national team!  I came here with nothing to do but football and I already know what goes into that! 

Being on this team has probably been the best thing in my life.  I am so blessed to have an opportunity like this.  Growing up I always wondered what it would be like to live in the Philippines. I wondered what it was like for my family here.  Now I get a taste of it all.  How lucky I am to represent a part of me and especially my mom!  The things I am learning and experiencing here are irreplaceable. I really am finding my whole self here and I love it.  The people here are awesome and my teammates are some of my best friends.  They teach me a lot about life and I notice all these similarities between us that I don't always get in the United States as I grew up in a predominantly white town. Very few people get a chance like this, and I am making sure to make the most of it!  A lot of my friends are settled in their jobs, applying for school, are in school, or looking for jobs.  I am plain football half way across the world!  This is insane!  There is so much opportunity for me here and I am definitely gonna ride this out as long as possible :)! 

<3 always,

welcome to ultra

marice and patrice!

usually the girls in ultra have to take taxis to practice, but now we stuff 9 of us in a ford escape :)

our bunks

yeaaa anybody that complains about dorm beds in the US.. trying sleeping on these.. haha btw i went to loyola university maryland.. our dorms were ranked in the top ten of that nation.. i had a full kitchen my freshmen to senior year.  now we have a microwave and a rice cooker :) hey its all u need! hmm but i could use a fridge.. lol. 

why must the shower head be so close to the toilet!! i barely fit in the stall to begin with.  but hey at least we don't have tabo style aka a bucket of water and a bowl to scoop.. lol 

ten girls and one sink... yea i just decided to not care what i looked like for the duration of mini camp. 

well one weekend of mini camp down.. another to go!! we go friday-tuesday.

and one more thing that could just make Ultra bearable!!!! ... INTERNET!!! I hate being cut off from the world! My family, friends, and my babeee! At least we are getting some team bonding in and when it comes down to it.. WHATEVER IT TAKES!!! #malditas #teampilipinas #footballforlife


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Life of an athlete

Wow! It definitely feels longer than two weeks!  What we do in a day (3 sessions) is what I was doing in a week in America!  I actually love our schedule though.  It really helps me maintain focus and stay healthy.  When the rain and other unpredictable disruptions come, that is when I become weak!  You want to have a good diet, but when a session is cancelled you end up eating even more or worse than if you had a session to burn those bad calories!  But everyone needs a cheat day.. sometimes two!  I am pretty good Monday-Friday, but when the weekend comes I definitely splurge.  When you are at malls with endless food options, you simply cannot help it!  Also, being exhausted you do just want to eat the bad stuff!  Our day goes from hot weather and sunshine to torrential downpour to hot again!  We cope though! :)

my splurge!! i love these green tea fraps or anything green tea!! so yummy!

my besties picking me up at the airport

what a trio!

we are always sweatingggg!!!

this is during pick-up on "football friday"... these foreigners can be so rudeee!! hating on girl footballers.. have their shorts hiked up.. for real?? oh and btw we ended up beating them haha.  i love proving people wrong esp haterssss!

our team is sponsored by a local restaurant called "giligans." we always get free food here! they have lots of filipino food and my teammates are always fighting for it haha.  

oh the rainy season!

these donuts are AMAZING!! all different flavors.  yes there is green tea!! i like the avocado flavored one!  also tiramasu, hazelnut, mascarpone, oreo, and more!! terrible for our diet but so good! gotta have a cheat day lol!

don't worry i didn't finish this all myself! we are all guilty!

and then i decided to stock up on the good stuff! the essentials! MAX product, protein, electrolytes, carbs/energy!

our whole house is trying to be healthy and increase performance!! haha though one teammate rather have stick-o's than whey.. lol.. whatever works!

that's it for now!! 
<3 cooke