Junior Abby Roth is spending her summer vacation abroad in Port Elizabeth, South Africa with sophomore teammate Cayleigh Immelman. Over the summer months, CMUChippewas.com will feature a blog written by Roth highlighting her experiences of the trip as well as her progress on the field competing internationally.
Things have still been really great down here in SA. June was quite a busy month and July seems as though it will be even busier. The family is doing quite well, we have our little routine and it is really very nice living with Cayleigh and her family. We have our weekly television shows (“Alcatraz,” “New Girl,” “Greys Anatomy”…), have coffee most every night, specific spots on the couches, and we all love giving Cayleigh a hard time. Right now we are all in Natures Valley at their holiday house, enjoying the outdoors and some peace and quiet before the hectic month of July kicks off. Natures is beautiful, the beach and lagoon are really a sight to see and very relaxing. Today we played a rousing game of beach cricket with Jason and a couple of Cayleigh's friends from high school that were visiting. Sky, Adrienne, and Ashleigh arrive tomorrow to spend the rest of the time at Natures with us.
Earlier on in the month Cayleigh took me to visit Woodridge, her high school, and it was really something. I fell in love with the school as soon as I saw that it was located out in a woodsy area just outside Port Elizabeth. It is a very quaint school, there are many small buildings scattered over the grounds, sports fields, and they even have an obstacle course. Cayleigh brought me inside one of the hostels to show me where her room was. She walked in like she owned the place, whipped open the door and to our surprise there was a girl sleeping in the bed. I tried to leave, but Cayleigh pushed me into the room and told me I must look around, that was certainly an awkward experience. All in all I really loved everything and know that I would have really enjoyed going to a school like Woodridge.
A very new experience for me was attending a high school rugby match. I honestly believe that the only close equivalent to the match is big-time high school football, but really even that is nowhere near as big an ordeal. School spirit is amazing. It was an all-boys school playing and every pupil not on the team was there in support singing songs and chanting, and they never stopped the entire match. Fans wrapped all around the field and there was standing room only. They had vendors from all over set up selling any type of treat you could think of, it was literally like a carnival. The atmosphere was really incredible considering it was just a regular match not for a championship or a big rival school; I can only imagine the scene then. Rugby itself is really awesome. I love the constant action in comparison to football where there are so many stoppages and lulls. Also the pure physicality and toughness of the game is really great, you can really see strength of the players and some of the hits are harder than football tackles, the difference being rugby players don’t wear pads. Another great experience involving rugby was having a braai at the house and watching SA vs England with all of the family friends. The support that all of SA has for their sports teams is really hard to beat, when it’s match day everywhere you go most people are buzzing with pride and have on the green and gold in support.
Training is still going well; we work out with Matt, a friend of Cayleigh’s who plays rugby. He has us doing some seriously hectic crossfit workouts. We have done handstand push-ups, jumping rope, clap push-ups, GPP’s, balancing on a bosu ball while catching a medicine ball, rowing, cycling, and regular weight training, as well. Matt says I have really good form so I can definitely thank Taylor for that. We are working hard and looking forward to getting back and training with everyone again.
Hockey is still going better than I could have ever hope. Every Tuesday I coach 9 and 10-year-old little girls’ hockey with Ashleigh. They are all very sweet girls and you can really see the skill some of them already have from starting at such a young age. The last time that I coached they found out that I would be going back to America at the end of July and were absolutely distraught, begging me not to leave and offering for me to stay at their houses instead of leaving. It was absolutely adorable and I really enjoyed such a unique opportunity. As for the Raptors, we beat the Old Grey Betas, 5-0, in a very solid match. Cayleigh played a very dynamic game and tallied a goal as well. In the last seconds of the game our teammate Millie scored a killer whammy shot from far left side of the D that ended in the top right corner of the cage, it was really spectacular and great to see that our team never let down even in the last seconds of the game. Overall our backs ran the game; communication, spirit, and fight started there and worked its way up the field. Ashleigh played a brilliant game not letting anyone get by without a heck of a fight and finding the sweetest passes, really just playing great hockey. Adrienne also is an exceptional player, combining speed with her nose for the ball and stick skills she really makes things happen from the link line. I have been learning a lot from watching them play. My overhead is improving still and I plan to try an incorporate it more into our upcoming games. Cayleigh is also helping me to improve my on-the-move defense by being a bit more tactical rather than just simply pressuring the player. I am really excited for Skylar to arrive and be able to experience the different style of hockey and become a part of our team.
I have really enjoyed being able to watch Uncle Rob play hockey. Men’s hockey is also very different to watch, the pace and power is really incredible. In his last game Uncle Rob’s team won, 3-0, and he had two goals and an assist. I would say his nickname is definitely “Stryker” for a reason, even though he always says “the more goals you set up, the more you will score.” It sounds crazy but it’s absolutely true. Rather than relying on one scorer, getting everyone involved and building the confidence of other teammates boosts the whole team’s moral. The result of a versatile confident team is a much stronger more relentless offense that cannot be easily shut down or marked out of the game.
I only have one month left in SA and I fear it will go too fast. I miss my family and friends tremendously, but this is really an amazing experience and SA is a beautiful country, it is going to be very difficult to leave. I hope everyone is enjoying their summer and I will send another update soon. Fire up CHIPS!