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Huddle: Interview with Lauren Crandall of USA Field Hockey

There is no doubt about it, Team USA had an absolutely incredible World Cup at the Hague, Netherlands.  They were a stand out team that won the hearts of many hockey lovers from across the world due to their fierce play, their competitive edge, unrivalled spirit and pure passion for the sport.  They were never pipped at being world champions, but no one expected such a might that the ladies in red had burning inside that enabled them to play so beautifully over 2 weeks, winning them a place in the semi finals against Australia’s Hockeyroos.  The match was a blistering display of world class hockey, where Crandall’s team held their nerve until the very end, scoring in the dying minutes forcing Australia to a penalty shootout, where they lost 3-1 in the end due to Australia’s excellent goal keeping.

However, Team USA’s display was what captured people’s attention and instilled in hockey fans’ minds even after the event, and with such a strong captain, it’s safe to say that we have only seen the tip of the ice berg with regards to USA Field Hockey.

We’ve caught up with Lauren Crandall post World Cup to see what she’s been up to since the tournament, what inspires her, how she got into hockey and what a day to day life of an international captain looks like.

lauren-crandall-pan-america-cup

Scoop: What have you been up to since your sensational performance at the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup?
Lauren: Much desired rest and relaxation!  But it was great to come home and see how many people followed our team at the World Cup.

Scoop: Over the course of the two weeks, Team USA fast became my favourite team (I’m from Wales!) especially due to the way you guys played as a team and had so much determination and drive.  What’s the secret to your success?
Lauren: We practice the way we want to play – every day.  Which means every training session is high intensity and purposeful.  We have a great staff that puts together a program, both short term and long term, that has allowed us to grow individually and as a team.  Together we are all a competitive group who enjoy working hard for one another.  When you combine all of this you hope to see some success.  And of course, at the end of the day, you have to love the work!

Scoop: How do you guys prepare for major tournaments?
Lauren: There really isn’t much differentiation between our preparation for a major tournament or for a 4 Nations. Every opportunity our team has to play against international competition is one we cherish.  Of course our coaches put in a tapering phase before big tournaments and monitor us as we enter into the event.  Really it is all about trusting our staff and working hard when they tell us.

Scoop: Who’s your hockey hero? Who do you enjoy watching play?
Lauren: I honestly do not have a hockey hero.  Over the years I have found that I like to take qualities from different players and incorporate them into my game.  I don’t think there is just one complete player.  There are so many dimensions to the international game, on and off the field, and I think it is important to continually learn and grow in all areas.  I can do this by watching not just men’s and women’s field hockey, but and also watching and learning from other sports.  I will say that during the World Cup I found myself amazed by some players and they are my teammates.  As a central defender I get to watch the play in front of me and I was constantly inspired by my teammates.

Video Referral: USA vs Australia – Women’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 Semi-Final Highlights

Scoop: That’s a great point! What’s your advice on dealing with losing a match?
Lauren: Losing is a part of sport – it’s going to happen.  Losing provides us with a great platform for learning.  It’s okay to be upset and have emotions, but you can never let those emotions distract you from learning the necessary lessons from a loss.  My advice: learn from your losses and don’t repeat the same mistakes.

Scoop: That’s very true. With over 200 caps under your belt, what has been the highlights of your career so far?
Lauren: Winning the 2008 Olympic Qualifier in Kazan, Russia; winning the Pan American Games in 2011, our performance at the World Cup, and the opportunity to share the field with so many great USA players are all highlights.

Scoop: What was it about field hockey that made you want to start playing in the first place?
Lauren: Peer pressure!  I moved back to Philadelphia in 7th grade and had just missed my middle school’s field hockey season.  All of my friends were raving about how fun it was.  The next year I needed a sport to play in the fall so my friend gave me a field hockey stick – that’s about it!

Scoop: How did that then turn into you being captain of Team USA?
Lauren: The love of the team sport kept me playing.  It was an exciting, fast game that continually challenged me.  It took me a while to learn the rules, and then learn some skills other than running.  But honestly during high school I started playing more and more field hockey every year.  My summers were soon filled with camps.  I kept getting invited to more camps and tournaments and tours and just having a blast playing.  Every time I moved up a level I would fall in love with the increased speed and skill at that level; I was always learning and I think that kept the sport fresh for me.  How I became captain of Team USA I can’t tell you.  I’ve just been myself and enjoyed the process.

Video Referral: USA vs Australia – Women’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 Semi-Final Shoot Out

Scoop: How do you think field hockey as a sport is growing over there?
Lauren: I think there is a lot of room for growth in the USA.  We have many sports to choose from over here, so the competition for sport selection is fierce.  But I believe our sport is one of the fastest field games out there and at the highest levels is incredibly entertaining.  We need to keep exposing people to international competitions and to get them excited about the sport and make them want to pick up a stick and play.

Scoop: What does a typical day in the life of Lauren Crandall look like?
Lauren: A typical day consists of two training sessions; depending on the day it could be two pitch session or a pitch session and a lift session.  In between sessions I do work for my part-time job at Ecore International and then at night I take classes in an effort to get my Masters degree.  In between all of that there is a lot of eating and a lot of resting.

Scoop: Do you have any lasting words of advice for aspiring hockey players out there?
Lauren: Play hard and have fun.  Don’t worry about where a sport can take you or what you can get out of it.  Embrace the moments that you play, give everything you have, enjoy yourself while doing it and you’ll find everything you want in the sport.

To keep up to date with Lauren Crandall, check out her Twitter here.

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