Greetings water polo fans and pistachio lovers! I am so excited for my introductory blog with American Pistachios! In the midst of the holiday season, I couldn’t think of a more thrilling time to begin logging our journey as 2011 comes to a close and we look forward to 2012, the Olympic Year! This time of year is always filled with reflection on months past, and setting goals for those to come—those of us in the USA Water Polo family are ecstatic as just a few short weeks ago, the USA Women’s and Men’s National Teams clinched our spots to participate in the 2012 London Games.
For those of you that have been with us thus far on the journey, you may have heard of our outrageous game at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara. After four rounds of a penalty shot shoot-out, we defeated Canada 27-26. As the goalkeeper that played that entire game I can barely describe the feeling of winning a game like that. The thing is, I think in the midst of all of the excitement surrounding the Olympics, a lot of people sort of forget or overlook the fact that our teams in fact do need to qualify for the Olympic Games—but to earn a spot with a win like that, will make this road to London that much more meaningful for us.
Prior to the Pan American Games, our team spent much of the summer competing in China—a country that has become a force to be reckoned with inside of the international women’s water polo circuit. We set off in June to Kirishi, Russia for a friendly tournament against the likes of Australia, Greece, Hungary, Russia and Kazakhstan and then flew across much of Asia to Tianjin, China, where we competed in the World League Super Final. Now as you might imagine, traveling to countries such as China and Russia can present some challenges as an elite athlete. It isn’t anything we don’t typically deal with while traveling anywhere internationally—jet lag and time changes, different weather and the ability to drink water from the tap (or even use it to brush our teeth), or finding a weight room with familiar equipment. But one of these major challenges is nutrition. When we train at home in sunny southern California, we have all of our favorite foods and fuel at our fingertips—acai bowls, smoothies, avocado sandwiches, and of course, pistachios (courtesy of our great friends at American Pistachio Growers!). But, when traveling abroad we don’t really have the ability to refuel and load up on everything we are used to at home. We are always looking to pack some of the comforts of home with us—which has actually been one of our favorite things about having and abundance of pistachios on hand. My personal favorite thing that I did with mine this summer was to make some homemade trail mix—I shucked a ton of my little nuts, and then mixed them together with some sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, carob chips and coconut flakes (those big chunky ones). This mix was perfect for on the airplane, in my swim bag and then tons on hand for snacking in my hotel. I threw it in right next to all of my dried mango and peppermint patties (everybody needs a little sweet here and there, right?).
As we look forward to 2012, we are traveling all the time. Immediately after ringing in the new year, we head to Australia for three weeks—a country that is generally easy to travel to as it is pretty similar to home (and will be summer there!), but then once February and March roll around we’re heading back to Russia and a few other spots in Europe. I’m really looking forward to keeping you all informed about how our team does both in the pool and out. As you might imagine traveling the world with a team full of water polo players for weeks and months at a time can lead to some pretty interesting stories—many of which I will share with my readers. But in the mean time, I wish everyone a warm holiday season, and check back in a few weeks to hear about getting ready to take off down under!! Cheers!