Friday, July 25, 2008

Olympic Send Off at The White House

What a week we've had! Travel has been a little crazy this last week. We started in Springfield Missouri went to Connecticut then to Ohio to play, then bused to Virgina and now headed out west to Irvine Ca.

The highlight of this week was a trip in between Conn and Ohio to the White House. The President invited 10 Olympians and 10 Para Olympians to his home for an Olympic Send Off. We were thrilled, even though it meant a night with no sleep to make it in time! Andrea Duran, Caitlin Lowe, and I went on behalf of USA Softball. We went straight from the plane to the Rose Garden for the Press Conference. I was given the honor to present The President an Official Softball Olympic Jersey! After the Press Conference Bush invited us all in the Oval Office, we were quite excited! Standing thinking of all the many great who have been in here, the many historical figures and decisions that have been made right in that very room was a bit overwhelming! We were excited enough just to go to the White House and then to top it off to get to go into the Oval Office. The President told us insight and history about the desk and how he designed with the first lady the rug that lies. He was so very personable, posed with us all for an individual shot, asking us questions about our sport and what we do! We have all been to the White House with our college teams but this time it was extra special! It was very intimate! The President let us know how excited he is for us and how excited he is to go over and cheer us all on in Beijing! After this we were able to catch a few hours of sleep before the Formal Dinner! It gets better!

To start the night we headed over to get in line for our pictures with The President and the First Lady. They were "golden" looking polished in of course gold! We each were able to take a photo with them, after the photo The President let me know I was at his table for dinner. What an honor... the night just got better filled with more excitement and nerves! We walked into the room filled with great past Olympians, NBC Analyst, Olympians, Para Olympians, CEO's, IOC members, USOC staff and much more. I was so completely in awe having the opportunity to not only sit at the table but right next to Mr. Bush himself. On the other side was one of my heroes Jackie Joyner Kersee. It kept getting better! It was a blast. The President put us at ease grabbing some roasted nuts casually and opening up conversation. From Ace, to Dot Richardson, to Kerri Walsh who was also at the table (shes incredibly sweet), to African American history, to China, and much more. He even pulled out a Sharpie and started signing the menu cards and passed them around for us all to sign. A great souvenier! It was a very special night and it definitely got us even more fired up about heading over to China... its coming! Finally, its coming! The excitement just continues to build! After a dinner filled with incredible company, delicious sea bass, and a lovely dessert topped with the Olympic Torch we headed back out to the Rose Garden for some Blue Grass! What a night! Dre, Cait, and I left in awe and a bit giddy about the day we just had! The only bummer was all 15 couldn't be there to share in the fun! Hopefully after we can all celebrate once again at the White House!

From the White House back to Ohio for a good game against the NPF Akron Racers! The crowd was incredible! To Virginia to California for our last stop! It was nice to finish at home in So Cal. We all had tons of family! I was so happy and delighted to see over 20 family members from all over the world come out to send us off! My cousin and his wife came from Germany! It was a great few days... too short but its back to business preparing, training, resting, for the trip! The trip we've been waiting for all our lives! The Olympics are here!

We head out to San Jose to process on the 2nd then we are heading over on the 4th! We can't wait to get to China unpack and prepare for battle!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Across Country Bus Tour

We started out in Portland and ending in Rapid City, South Dakota. We had an adventure to say the least. We had the baby mobile motor home following behind the bus on our road trip. We enjoyed great company on the motor home... when we were healthy and not! :) There was this horrible bug that went around and around. The baby mobile turned into the sick mobile holding all the hosts of this bug keeping it away from the team as much as possible. Even with the bug we managed to have a lot of fun and made many memories. The highlights being definitely the drive through Yellowstone and the black hawk tour through the black hills, Mt Rushmore, and around Crazy Horse. It was great to experience all of this, getting to see and appreciate this great country in which we represent! In Yellowstone we were able to see a Black Bear, Elk, Dear, Buffalo, and many spectacular views. We were so happy to meet up with Casey in Rapid City, he was on All Star break. He met us at the Military base just in time to get in on the fun! Ace was so elated with joy to see his daddy! Casey just as much to see his boy!
Now to the Black Hawk Tour... what a thrill! Absolutely amazing! Started a bit shaky with the Military splitting Casey and I up because we have Ace! A bit scary thinking about that... but I figure with the military is probably the best way to fly the sky! We were graciously given an opportunity of a lifetime. We soared through the beautiful black hills, up and around Mt Rushmore with the greatest view possible, and by crazy horse. We had lots of fun! Dre and I grasped on to one another when our pilots decided to have some fun, screaming as our stomachs dropped as if we were on a roller coaster ride. We are so grateful for the many incredible things we have been able to do. We ended our adventure with a sunset banquet up at crazy horse... what a day! What a year!

We are now in Connecticut getting ready for our game tonight. As this tour comes to an end it has been a bit emotional. The good byes are starting, from our very special bus drivers whom we adore, to all the staff that won't be in Beijing, and the many who have helped us tremendously along the way! There are so many that play such a huge part of what we do, we are so thankful and blessed to have so much and so many. After tonight we have four games left on US soil, we are filled with many mixed emotions, but its refreshing knowing that "amazing awaits" in China!

Ending our night in Springfield Missouri yesterday, with our usual autograph session I was approached by the cutest little girl grinning from ear to ear. She ran up, looking up, on her tip toes, and with such excitement shouted, "Go get us our fourth, Jennie." It was the cutest thing!!! Our fourth... thats our mission. "Our" meaning every little girl out there, the many Coaches, the many fans of all ages, the women before us who paved the way for us, it is "Ours" as a Nation, going for four for all!

Dream & Believe!

Monday, July 7, 2008

32 more days...

32 more days til the Olympics! It's coming fast!

We will be in Beijing before no time. We had a great practice today, we are in Portland, Oregon. We met up last night for our last leg of our "Bound for Beijing" tour. It's hard to believe its almost over. I can remember tearing up looking how busy this tour was and how much time we were going to be on the road back in November. Wondering how we (The Finch-Daigle's) were going to get through it and manage it all. Staring at the calendar would just make me ill. I can just remember bringing it to my mom and just crying over the calendar thinking there is no way. No way. She hugged me as she always does and reassured me we will get through it, we will just take it trip by trip... and here we are, almost at its end. After her taking a leave of absence from work, my Aunt and Uncle traveling across country and back again, the Daigle's flying in and out numerous times, my dad being just an incredible Grandpa being solo on the road with us, and many more people who have sacrificed so much to help us. We have almost made it. I see the light!

Now I am filled with so many mixed emotions excitement and anxiousness thinking about Beijing but yet saddened by the thought of it all coming to an end. We have made it! We managed it and have made it a magical and memorable year... with the best yet to come in Beijing. With so much help from our families and friends we have done it! Ace has been such a trooper! Casey has really been the incredible hulk and entirely amazing in this journey. He has been our rock, he has spent the many nights alone away from us, and yet remains our foundation. He has given so much and I am so forever grateful. Still every time we leave Casey, watching him say his goodbyes to Ace is when I lose it. Every time my eyes over fill with tears. This year has been about dreams, sacrifice, giving, support, love, and so much more. I'm getting a bit emotional just writing this. This mountain seemed unclimbable and here we are almost to the peak!

Watching the Olympic trials has been rejuvenating and energizing! It has been amazing watching dreams come true for many. After watching many hours of track and swimming I thank the Lord above for me playing a team sport and us being chosen in Sept! My heart breaks for the many who have given so much just to have a shot on that one day. That one day they have to be their best. Less than a second, less than a centimeter, there were so many emotions in the trials this past week. I have a really close friend who was there competing for her one shot, she has given so much, faced an injury 2 months before the trials, fought so hard to overcome, she was so very close. My heart ached for her this week as she went through the trials and came up just short. She will remain a champion in my mind. Watching her face this past week just makes me realize how many belong and gave so much but yet will not be in Beijing physically but are with all of us that are. We are better and who we are and will carry them with us as we represent the US because of all these amazing athletes. It reminds me how grateful, blessed, thankful, and incredibly special this is. We have been grinding daily getting ready for this our whole lives and its only 32 days away.

EXCITING NEWS... Casey has been chosen to the top 60 players list to have a shot at the US Baseball Team!!! We are overwhelmed with joy, pride, happiness, excitement, and so much more. This would be icing on the cake and yet another dream!!! We are keeping our fingers crossed hoping. Lord willing we will both be in Beijing having the greatest honor there is for an athlete competing for our country! We are trying not to get too excited but its a little too late. Either way we are just honored having Casey be in the running. We will know in about a week!

Well Ace is shouting movie... its bed time! He isn't too happy about me being on the computer. He continues to fill our lives with such unexplainable joy! Daddy got him his first bike last week, its green and just adorable. Sure enough less than 10 minutes and he was riding around solo. Just amazing. He is growing so fast. We are soaking in as much as we can! We love it. It was absolutely so cute at lunch a couple days ago I think he hugged and kissed Casey over 10 times. He adores his daddy! He is such a loving little boy. We are so blessed! Enjoying parenthood to the fullest!

Keep dreaming & believing!