THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — ‘Paris 2014’ emblazoned on a board at the front of the room. American flags in every player’s hand. Each player breathes deeply and sighs when Pete Steinberg opens the traditional jersey ceremony of the Women’s Eagles.
“This is our goal,” announces Steinberg, pointing to the board. “Our goal is to be at our best here,” indicating the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup, in Paris.
With each line spoken and realized, players fidget more and more. Smirks grow to grins, and finally grins turn to smiles after the head coach makes each point.
“We have to play games,” simply put Steinberg. “The goal of today is to go out and play international rugby and at the end of the day we are better as a result.”
Expectations for the game are laid out for the players; “be physical, fast, and fit”.
Knees begin to bounce as each individual envisions what is required of them at the nights contest.
“If you are an inexperienced player and getting your first cap today, it is about learning for you and seeing what international rugby is like,” indicated Steinberg. “If you are a returning player, it is about demonstrating your abilities to the French and showing them what you are capable of.”
Although not until 5 p.m., the Women’s Eagles are mentally focused on the task of playing France tonight.
Steinberg then initiates the distribution of the jerseys.
As players receive their jersey, a note from a teammate pushes the sense of unity among the group.
Claps, laughs, and cheers boost the feeling among the Women’s Eagles team as 23 players receive their navy blue uniform to represent the USA that night.
As the feeling of focused excitement reverberates around the room, the unified group celebrates each other’s recent accolades. Players slowly return to the daily routine of preparing for a game after a few rounds of pictures.
The task at hand is still obvious; beat France.
Oxnard College Soccer Facility will house the game between the Women’s Eagles and France.
As the opening match of a three match series still awaits the group, so too does two more ceremonies of tradition.