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by Christen Press, November 13th, 2012 10:09PM

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TAGS:  americans abroad, olympics, sweden, women's national team

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“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? ... Or does it explode?” – Langston Hughes

[THE PITCH: Blog 34] I really had hoped to write something insightful for my last in-season blog post. I figured that after this phenomenal experience of life and soccer abroad, I would have some sort of grand final statement on my growth to share with you. But alas, this is not the case. What I have learned, however, is that, perhaps, nothing ever goes as expected and, perhaps, that is a blessing.

 



I thought I would get homesick. During the nine months of living single, in my one-bedroom apartment at the top of my hill, over 6,000 miles from home I thought I’d feel melancholy. I thought I’d long for my home in the States, my family and friends, my old life. But somehow over the course of my time here, I found a surprising strength and security in knowing that as my home was standing tall in the glorious California sun. My people have kept tabs on me from afar, and the beams exuding from their support and pride have shone brightly over me.

 



I thought that playing in Sweden would be kissing the USWNT goodbye. In March, I decided to walk away from the disappointment of being excluded from the national team. I thought my last opportunity to be seen had crumbled with the disintegration of the WPS, so I decided to leave my London2012 dreams behind in order to make myself a better player. I played in Sweden with a freed spirit and with my attention on enjoyment and improvement. And then, of course, as fate would have it, I got invited into my first and only camp before being called to the Olympics as an alternate.

 



I thought I embodied "the American way." While I was reared in the spirit of a true American, one of the things I am most proud of this year has been my “open mind” to the Swedish way. I opened my heart and really let a new place become a part of me. With its café culture, its lagom mentality, its cobblestone streets, and its park-side waterways, this lovely little city became not only the backdrop for my story, but a starring role in it. I came to Sweden with a fierce curiosity, trying hard to suppress my stubborn, know-it-all mindset. And from that curiosity I’ve observed and absorbed a different society. It has affected me in many ways: my style, my football, my routines. And as my grasp of the language improved, I think I’ve gained an even greater understanding of the world.

 



I thought this year was going to be about finding my way on my own. Instead I have found the complete opposite to be true. 2012 was about coming together. It was about learning to lean on my friends. It was about discovering who I am and how to find happiness through healthy strong relationships. It was about learning how to be a true team player. Furthermore, it was about uncovering and harnessing the emotional and physical power that only exists when you both help and accept help from others.

 



Even though I am far away from the USA, November will always be a time when I stop to reflect upon and acknowledge the things for which I am most thankful.  In that light I have added to my list of family, friends, and good health…My time spent here in Gothenburg playing for KGFC!

 



Stoppage Time:

I’ve come full circle. My first game for KGFC was the 2011/2012 Champions League quarterfinals. My last game happened to be the 2012/2013 Champions League round of 16, with the quarterfinals to be played in the spring of 2013.

 



We ended up at 4th in Damallsvenskan, missing 2014 Champions League qualifications and failing to reach many of our expectations as a team. And although the last league game seemed a little anti-climactic for my American-playoff-mentality, I really believe that how we finished the season is a solid foundation for the team we want to be … going forward. In August our team decided upon two goals for the fall: winning the Swedish Cup championship and making it to the Champions League Quarterfinals. We named it and we achieved it, and that is an important step for our team. We know that it will take a lot to make a deeper run at Champions League, but we are an ambitious group and are willing to do what it takes to get there.

Final Score: KGFC 3 Fortuna Hjorring 2 (4-3 Aggregate)
*More details on the game to come

 



I've spent a lot of my time this week talking to my friends about how I believe 2013 is going to be THE year. 2013 is not for worrying. 2013 is for going for gold. So yes, I dream big, but I know all my dreams depend upon the simple process of improving each and every day through hard work. They are my dreams and they do not depend upon what others want or what others think of me. Nine months later ... I still maintain the same creed…

 



“Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”
- William Ernest Henley



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