Thursday, June 7, 2012

US women dream of Olympic gold

Kathleen O'Donnell and Lauren Crandall pose for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 13, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- When the players on the U.S. women’s field hockey team think about London, their minds are on winning a gold medal. After all, Team USA has never won a gold medal in field hockey in the Games and these women would like to rewrite history. And, no doubt, they have their minds set on the X’s and O’s of their top opponents.
    With Kate Middleton promoting their sport in London, Team USA players hope to generate extra publicity
   But when it comes to these Games, there is a special X factor: the potential presence of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton.
    With the Games being in London this summer and with Middleton being a former high school field hockey player (and captain) who just so happens to be an ambassador for the 2012 Olympic Games, U.S. players are hoping their sport will receive more than its usual share of publicity this summer.
    Middleton visited with Great Britain’s field hockey team last month and photos of the Duchess swinging a field hockey stick landed in places such as People magazine. When Middleton sports a certain designer’s dress, that style quickly becomes the latest fashion, so it’s only natural that field hockey players hope the Duchess’ touch will be golden in their sport, too.
    As U.S. field hockey coach Lee Bodimeade said, “You can’t buy this kind of publicity. Maybe we should get the Obama girls some sticks, too.”
    Middleton’s allegiance, obviously, will be with Great Britain, but her aura around the sport has won over Team USA players.
    “I’m so excited for these Games,” said Katie O’Donnell, a star forward for Team USA, who noted that Middleton even displayed good field hockey form. “Kate Middleton is so popular. I think people are going to watch.”
    “It’s huge for the sport,” added Katelyn Falgowski, a midfielder who made her Olympic debut in Beijing and is expected to be on the team again this summer in London. “Everyone follows her. I mean, who doesn’t? She’s the girl next door and she plays field hockey. That’s great.”
    Unfortunately for Team USA players, their potential brush with British royalty will have to wait just a bit longer. While Middleton was celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this week, the U.S. field hockey players were busy training and competing in the Women’s National Championship at the University of Maryland.

USFHA media release