This article is part of the USA Women's Eagles Final in '14 blog. All entries are written exclusively by members of the women's national team.
With the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup starting up tomorrow, I found myself reflecting on what this experience means to me as a player and us as a team. Tomorrow marks the 47th time I have had the honor of putting on a USA jersey and the 10th time that jersey has a World Cup crest. But this World Cup, our jerseys are a little different. They have a little something extra.
On the left sleeve there is, as always, a United States flag – a reminder of the great country we represent on the field. A flag that represents a country built on resilience, determination, fortitude, grit, ingenuity, creativity, intelligence, and passion – all traits we will need to bring to bare on the field of play tomorrow. But that flag is not what makes this particular jersey unique compared to ones in the past. What makes this, and all our jerseys of this World Cup, different is what is on the right sleeve. On that sleeve there is embroidered a small silver cup – a World Cup. Only three teams at this World Cup will have this marker upon their sleeve – England, New Zealand, AND the United States of America. What does this small insignia indicate? It is a badge of honor that tells everyone that this team has hoisted the World Cup into the air; that this team has been crowned the best in the world; that this team has held the title of champion. Only those teams who have won the World Cup before are given this honor. This small insignia is the symbol of a huge legacy.
All of us on this USA team know the story of the 1991 World Cup – the first World Cup – the World Cup that was won by the USA. We revere that team. We idolize those heroines who laid the foundation for us! Never is their accomplishment far from our minds. Whenever we take the pitch, we always carry their strength with us in spirit. But now we have something more tangible - a physical symbol that we can look to. We can look at that cup on each others’ sleeves and see before us the legacy upon which our team is built and can draw on the strength of that legacy! We can know deep down that the strength of this team is not just that of the 15 on the field, or the 22 on the roster, or even the 26 on the squad, but the strength of so many more. We draw on the strength of hundreds of Eagles who have come before us and set forth a winning tradition. We draw on the strength of the thousands of teammates, coaches, friends, and family members who have supported us on this journey. And we draw on the strength of the hundreds of thousands of little girls who will play this game after us and continue to grow this amazing sport.
That is an incredible feeling. It is one thing to know that we are being buoyed upwards by thousands. It is another thing to have a visual reminder of that strength that you can carry onto the field with you. So when I am standing side-by-side with my teammates and the national anthem plays, I will put my right hand over my heart and in that moment I will know. I will see that cup and feel not only the chills and tearing up of my eyes that I have felt 46 times before, but I will also feel something new and different. I will feel the surge of strength and energy given to me by our women’s rugby legacy and I will use it to play my heart out for all of you!