some of my earliest childhood memories are playing recreation and travel soccer. soccer soon became field hockey ... my love and appreciation for sports began early on in life. I had found a sport that challenged and inspired me not only on the field but more importantly off the field. it has instilled meaningful life-long personal qualities and taught me how to handle every day and unexpected life experiences. in high school, I got involved with the united states field hockey program. this further fueled my love of the game. I went on to play in college as well as training on various junior national teams all with the hopes of one day making the us senior women's national team.
fast forward to the fall of my senior field hockey season at college. we made the sweet sixteen by a very slim margin, and then on to the final four but lost to the eventual national champions. two days later, I was on a plane headed to chile to compete at the junior world cup with the us u21 junor national team. at this point, I was reliving the high of my senior season as well as anticipating the excitement of the junior world cup. my collegiate career had just ended with a trip to the ncaa final four, and I could possibly enter the life of a non-athlete upon my return from chile, not knowing if I would move onto the senior women's team. since I knew this could be the last time I played field hockey, I wanted to enjoy it.
things don't always go as planned. my junior world cup experience ended much sooner than expected when I got hit in the face with a ball during one of our games. within hours I was on an emergency flight home. upon landing back home in the states 15 hours later, I was whisked to an oral surgeon and hit once again, not physically, but with the realization of what was about to happen. I had a fractured jaw and the only way to fix it was to wire my jaw shut for eight weeks. what did this mean? refer to kanye west's song 'through the wire.' the months to follow had plenty of highs and lows, but I realized that with the help of family and friends, life goes on and to enjoy it, even in the simplest moments. make the most of the situation and know that, luckily, this situation isn't permanent. even on the hardest days, still go and live your life. it may be difficult in the moment but like anything - this too shall pass.
fracturing my jaw came second to a stick and ten stitches I took to the head the year before. these injuries left me reeling and at the time I thought my chances of continuing to play field hockey were over. mentally and physically it took a lot out of me. it left me with doubt and uncertainty but with a lot of love and support. it's also made me realize some things happen to remind us of how strong we are. fast forward a year, filled with a long recovery and a lot of hard training, I got my chance at a tryout and was named to the us senior women's national team last fall.
playing on the senior women's team and representing my country is a huge honor and something I don't take lightly but fracturing my jaw led to a multitude of changes in my life. moving forward it has strengthened me mentally. it has taught me life is a lot like the game, not every play will go as you planned or practiced. it also taught me to find strength in other when you feel you need help moving forward and to be that shoulder for someone who needs it on any given day.
I've come to realize that the game doesn't define me. I will remain fierce and competitive on the field, but I am more mindful, appreciative and aware of how special each game is. also being faced with it possibly ending, not on my terms, has changed my outlook and reminded me to enjoy the journey. yes, field hockey is a big part of my life but it's these life lessons that are shaping me. even now as I recover from a torn acl, I remain steadfast, determined and committed to using these trials to become the best version of myself as an athlete and person. it's opened my eyes to new possibilities, giving back to the community, mentoring a new generation of field hockey players and spending time with loved ones. sometimes the best medicine is a positive mindset. as I continue this journey, I remind myself that when these boulders come my way, that one day when I look back, I will see stepping stones.