Monday, September 24, 2012

One on one with Wann: Becca on winning gold, Hiroshima and hoops!

We love Becca Wann. Richmond's full-time soccer player, full-time basketball player and full-time student shared her recent experience of winning a gold medal in the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan with both Spider TV in this interview and with LadySwish after.

Some thoughts from Becca, who happens to be the Spiders' leading scorer in soccer with four goals in her last two games. (We even got her talking a little hoops.)

Becca on.....

Making the U-20 national team roster after late-summer camps in California and Florida: Four months ago, even making the roster let alone winning a gold medal wasn't in my mind. I honestly didn't think there was a possibility of my making the roster until the last day of the last camp in July. They had some injuries to the team, and I got a call to see if I could come to a camp at the end of July, the final camp before they left. I found out the last day of the camp. 

On the royal treatment in Japan: Japan was incredible. All the people there were so thoughtful. We were really treated like royalty. We had a liaison with us. She was our translator. She went everywhere with us. She was honestly something like 90 pounds, 5-foot-1. We would have all this gear with us when we went to practice. There would be two of us carrying a cooler of water off the bus to get to practice and she would run up to us and take the cooler and not let us carry it the rest of the way. Random people would come up to us and help us carry our stuff -- they were  just so thoughtful there. That made it awesome.

On touring Japan: We were in four different cities. Each one was like a different way you would think of Japan. We were in Tokyo for the semifinals and final, and that was busy, lots of lights, lots of stores. My favorite city was Hiroshima. It was really clean, really nice, not that crowded. We went to Miyagi. It was more rural farmland. 

In Hiroshima we went to Peace Park, where the memorial is for where we dropped the bomb. When we were in Miyagi we went to the coast that got hit by the tsunami.  Then in Tokyo we went to the U.S. ambassador's house, and we played soccer with middle school kids in his backyard.

On the visit to Hiroshima: It's a very important piece of history for them and for us. It's was a very somber time. We took pictures, but no goofing around.  We visited the museum and as a team, we left a wreath and had a moment of silence. It was really cool to learn about it. It says so much about the Japanese people as a whole.  I think the way we approached it was being respectful. There's a wall in the museum that is letters of protest. Every time a country sets off a test of a nuclear bomb, they send a letter to the president or the leader saying, "Please don't do this. Look what it's done." 

On the crowds: It was more people than I had ever played soccer in front of. There were probably a couple thousand in our group games. They love the U.S. team. Once we got to Tokyo to the stadium for the final, Japan played before us, so that game was packed and our game was packed as well.

A learning experience: I learned so much while I was over there. My biggest takeaway was I learned how to be a better teammate because that role was a different role on a team than I have ever had. I learned how to come up alongside one of my teammates who was maybe tired at halftime or was having a bad day at practice. That was really important for me.

And obviously, playing against the best players in the country in practice. ... I loved going to practice every day because I knew I was going to be playing against the top backs in the country, and I knew they would push me. I honestly feel like after the camps and after this month, I came back a completely different player.

Where's the gold? It's in my backpack because I have teammates and coaches who want to see it. Its permanent home is going to be with one of my jerseys signed by the whole team. I'm going to get all of it framed and put the gold medal in it. 

Your favorite moment? Other than winning gold?

OK, second favorite? My second favorite part was the team and being with the girls. I was pleasantly surprised at how welcoming they were to me. They had been together for a year and half. They had players come in and out of camps. Overall, they looked at 70 players for the team. But there was 18 who had been together for a year and a half. From my first camp, they were so welcoming. They treated me like a member of the team. I absolutely loved hanging out with them on the field and off the field. I definitely made some great friendships that I have today and will have in the future.

Thought about hoops? I have been going to our team workouts. I put on some basketball shorts for the first time in about six months and went in and shot the basketball. My shoulder was a little sore afterward, nothing big, but it was nice to be back on the hardwood. I'm focused on soccer right now, but I'm really excited for how our basketball team looks as well. I'm excited to jump back into that once soccer is over.

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