It’s The Climb!

Today was our final day in Vancouver and probably consisted of the most strenuous activities thus far. Today we were to face The Grouse Grind. This hike has been talked up all week and every Canadian we have spoken to has not only wished us luck, but also thanked the lord it wasn’t them doing the hike. We learned that a great time for the hike was less than an hour and an average time was approximately 1.5 hours. Coach made it clear that she wanted us to go up the mountain at our own pace and many thanks that she did.

Grouse Mountain has been called nature’s Stairmaster. Confirming all the hype surrounding the hike, HCFH  learned they were in for a real doozy as soon as they started. Right from the start, there were steep stairs that were never ending. There was never a horizontal path, as the hike was directly up the mountain with minimal switchbacks.

Here are some quick facts about the Grouse Grind:

Length: 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles)
Elevation Gain: 853 meters (2,800 feet)
Base: 274 meters above sea level (900 feet)
Summit: 1,127 meters (3,700 feet)
Total Stairs: 2,830

To say the hike was exhausting would be an understatement. As we dragged ourselves up the natural staircase, we were surrounded by all the locals. I personally was passed by elderly, children, and even moms carrying babies. I’m not sure what that says about my athleticism, but the hike was definitely a challenge. There was no going back once we passed the quarter distance marker. The staircases progressively got steeper as the hike went on, to the point where we needed to get on our hands and knees to pull ourselves up. Dripping with sweat and fighting for air, everyone could feel the burn with every step.

Not surprisingly, the first to finish the hike was Coach Cox with an impressive time of approximately 45 minutes. Cory came in second at around 50 minutes followed by Assistant Coach Lauren with another sub-hour time. The whole team got up the mountain in less than 1.5 hours. The process itself was grueling and little fun, but was definitely made worth it by the views that the top provided. At the top of Grouse Mountain, we were able to get a panoramic view of Vancouver with it’s surrounding body of water and mountains. Along with the sites, there were many more activities to do at the top. The team got to view the wildlife refuge, which housed orphaned bears and wolves. We also caught some of the lumberjack show, which consisted of hillbilly styled actors doing tricks with axes and logs. Cory and Ashlee took advantage of the mountain zip lining too. The team was able to complete some filming for our upcoming music video (mentioned in the first post) and take some fun team pictures with the landscape. Thankfully we took the gondola down the mountain and were able to appreciate the impressive mountain that we had just climbed.

The team on top of Grouse Mountain overlooking Vancouver

We had a couple hours free before our late game, so the team grabbed lunch and relaxed. Some girls ventured into Gastown to see some of the city and do some shopping, while others took advantage of the hotel’s sauna/hot tub to relax and assuage their soreness.

After an early dinner, the team headed to the field for our final game against the Vancouver Hawks. Already sore from the morning hike, the team tried to pick up the pace in the warm up and give it their all in the final game. The Hawks provided great competition and were quick on their feet. HCFH kept up with their pace and took numerous shots on goals. Knowing we would have the next three days off to rest, Haverford refused to go out without a fight. The game would end in a loss, but Haverford had succeeded in finishing in the goal and playing through our fatigue. All the strenuous activities of this past week finally took their toll on HCFH and by the end of the game we were wiped out. Holding our heads high, Haverford left the field proud of all our hard work this week and looked forward to what preseason has in store for us. Knowing we are going into preseason more fit and united, HCFH can only get better from here!

Tomorrow we leave for the airport and have the long travel home to Haverford. Thank you for following our travels in Vancouver and I hope everyone gets the chance to come out and support us during our 2012 season! Go Fords!

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We may not be Batman, but our competition is still the Joker

Today was somewhat of a leisure day and was started out right by a team yoga session – led by Ashlee, the newest member of the superfan team. After an early morning wake up call, the team ran out to the park by the bay one last time and set our towels down on the ground prepared for a good stretch. Overlooking the bay, Ashlee began the session with power yoga accompanied to fun hip-hop background music, chosen previously by the team. Really stretching us out and pushing us to our limits, Ashlee had us in an amalgam of shapes that forced us to focus and breathe. The last half of the session was more of stretching yoga that helped us loosen our muscles, made tight from all the work we have been doing this week. The team really appreciated the yoga session and all felt so much more relaxed and loose afterwards. Thanks again Ashlee for your soothing motivation and much needed stretches!

Speaking of thank you’s, the team wants to give a quick shout out to our faithful bus driver, Paul! Thank you Paul for your witty comments and continual support! We hope we’ve converted you to a field hockey fan! We wouldn’t be going anywhere without you….literally!

After yoga, the team got breakfast and headed out to the suspension bridge. The suspension bridge wasn’t the only attraction, as we got to walk on some mild trails. We all made sure to document the walk to the –nth degree and take a plethora of team photos. At the end of one walk, we came upon a natural pool. Bridget Gibbons and Mary Hobbs, the only brave souls on the team, dove into the pool and after no more than 3 seconds they sprinted out of the water shocked by how cold the water was. Near the pool, Coach Cox gave the team different team bonding exercises for us to complete all of which included standing on different sized rocks. Attempting to work together, the team had to complete exercises quickly, like ordering ourselves tallest to shortest or from youngest to oldest. After hiking to overlook the some falls, the end of the walk required us to walk up a couple flights of stairs, which not only left us sore, but also terrified for the next day, which included a hike on ‘nature’s natural stair master.’

The Suspension Bridge

Team Photo Op on the Nature Walk

The Natural Pool

A view from the trails

The team arrived back at the hotel with more than enough time before our game. Everyone broke off to get their own lunch and then had a couple hours to spare. Some girls took this time to do shopping, while others fell face first into their pillow and attempted to catch up on some much needed sleep. I know I can speak for the team when I say that all of these activities this week have left us exhausted and sore.

Around 4 PM, the team left for the field for our game. We headed to a new field that had a beautiful landscape of Vancouver’s skyline and mountain range overlooking it. Every field we have encountered thus far has been water based, which means that every hour or so sprinklers turn on all around the field and spray the whole turf down with water. The wet turf is both cooler and allows for the ball to move at a much faster pace.

With a solid warm-up, HCFH took the field against Vancouver’s Jokers. The Jokers was made up of veteran players that provided great competition. While the game would end in a loss for Haverford, it illuminated important skills that needed to be worked on during preseason that could only make us better. It is always exciting to play a good team that pushes us and each player held their own throughout the whole game. This trip has truly been a learning experience and playing the Jokers was definitely a step in the right direction.

The view of Vancouver from the field

The whole crew after our game against the Jokers

The Jokers invited us to their club house for dinner. The club house, situated in Stanley Park, was directly on the water and overlooked the city and local marina. HCFH chowed down on some burgers and had a few laughs while we sat on the club house’s dock. We also got the chat with the other team and compare notes on field hockey and every day doings. At the end of dinner, the coach of the Joker’s presented the captains with a team jersey to commemorate the game and thanked us for the competition.

The Joker's Club House

The view of Vancouver at night from the club house

When we arrived back to the hotel, the players quickly showered and headed up to the roof of the hotel to have a quick nosh and enjoy the view of the city at night before heading to bed. Tomorrow the team takes on the much anticipated Grouse Mountain and our final game against the Vancouver Hawks. From everyone we have talked to, Grouse Mountain, or nature’s natural Stairmaster, will be challenging, but hopefully worth it due to the breathtaking views it provides!

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Nature’s Roller Coaster

Today the team took a break from field hockey and instead enjoyed some of the natural surroundings Canada has to offer. But before we could do that, the team underwent some early conditioning.

With a team jog to the waterfront, we arrived back at the same park from the first day. We quickly stretched and then turned our attention to Coach Cox and Cory to find out what was in store for us. For the team conditioning, the coach staff planned out 6 stations that each involved intense workouts to complete ranging from wheelbarrow runs (harder than you think, I promise), mountain climbers, 5-10-5 sprints, and squats. In teams of three, we spent 2 minutes at each station pushing ourselves and our teammates to give it their all in their sets. After going through each rotation twice, we found out that there was still more running to be done! I could hear it in my head, just like an infomercial – “But wait, there’s more!” We were shown a whole new rotation with drills like bear crawls, pyramid sprints, up-hill running, and burpies. Once again, after two rotations the team finished, drained and sore. The Vancouver residents walking around us must have thought we were crazy as they passed by girls crawling around in circles at 8 AM.

We rushed back to the hotel for a quick breakfast and grabbed our bathing suits for whitewater rafting on the Chilliwack River. The drive was around 2 hours, but we passed the time watching an all-time favorite rom-com “Never Been Kissed.” We arrived at the site a little early, so the team jumped on a nearby beach volleyball court and started playing a game. We came to the conclusion our athleticism would be better spent on the hockey field after we discovered that our volleyball skills were  subpar. Finally, we were called in for a delicious lunch provided by the rafting services before we suited up and headed out.

The first challenge of our whitewater rafting trip was fitting into our wetsuits. Each girl was provided a wetsuit that took blood, sweat, and tears to put on. Girls were rolling on the ground to pull it up while others waddled around trying to fit their legs in. The skin tight suit was necessary though for the cold water we were about to encounter. The rest of our outfit included a skintight wetsuit jacket, a life jacket, helmet, and booties. We knew immediately knew the wetsuits were bad when one of the guides looked at us and said, “These things are terrible, eh?”

Once we were all dressed to go one, of the head leaders gave the group a spiel on the different types of rapids we could choose. One tour was the ‘classic,’ which included type 2 rapids and some 3’s. The other choice was the ‘canyon tour’ that included almost all type 4 rapids and could only be done by athletic-type people. With trepidation from a few, the team finally decided that the canyon tour was for us. We all got onto a school bus and drove to the starting site.

Before we could enter the water, one of the tour leaders gave us an in-depth overview of the safety protocol. The way the guide explained the ride basically made it sound like we were destined for either broken bones or death. Basically left terrified, the team buckled up and entered our rafts to begin our tour. Piling in, we were taught commands from our group leaders such as forward paddle, left back, and move to the left side! Once we took off, we realized we were in for a lot of fun. From the beginning, there were great rapids that had us bouncing, turning, and soaking wet. Whenever we would get stuck on rocks, we had to maneuver around the raft to loosen ourselves. The paddling was tiring, but we had the instant gratification of continuous rapids to make the hard work worth it. Girls were thrown around the boat as we hit waves and were splashed in the face as we headed head first into rapids. The whole time we were able to embrace the surrounding greenery, as all around us were thick forests and high mountains. Lastly, the air was noticeably clean and the water was so clear and fresh!

View of the Chilliwack River

Halfway into our tour, we stopped on the side of the river and climbed up some rocks. From there, each person jumped around 20 feet off the rocks into the moving water. As soon as we got back to the surface, we swam to the side and grabbed the rocks for dear life. The water was cold, but definitely refreshing. It was such a thrill! After we all jumped twice, we got back into our rafts, continued down the rapids, and stopped once more for a quick snack of oranges. The tour ended on a major rapid and left us all satisfied.

Senior Bridget Gibbons Jumping

Senior Courtney Knill Jumping into the River

Through all the rapids, we did have some team members fall out of the rafts. The first to go was Megan Reilly. When looking out to the nearby raft, we got the sight of Megan being pulled back into the raft by her teammates after she was thrown out due to the rapids. Bryn Bissey and Bridget Gibbons both fell out too. At the end of the tour on the last rapid, Cory was the last to go as the huge final rapid threw him out. With all these overboards, you can tell how strong these rapids were.

At the end of the tour, we piled onto the bus, went back to base, and changed our clothing. Everyone was completely drained and exhausted when we headed back into the city for dinner. Tomorrow we have yoga, led by Cory’s fiancee Ashlee, a hike over a suspension bridge, and a game against the Vancouver Jokers.

The whole gang after our rafting tour

"Now, FLEX!"

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HCFH Sea’s Vancouver

Our second full day in Vancouver started with sea kayaking at Jericho Beach. After a short bus ride, we were dropped off at the beach and introduced to our group leaders. They fitted us into our “PFDs,” otherwise known as our personal floating devices. In no shape or form were these PFDs attractive or well fitted, but as we learned later, rules #1, 2, and 3 were to never take them off. Brought down to the beach, the team climbed into single and double kayaks and made sure all the settings were correctly fitted. The group leaders gave us a quick kayaking lesson that echoed terms we all knew too well, such as “arms at a 90 degree angle” and “fire your core.” Finally ready to enter the water, the team launched their boats and took off.

Jericho Beach was surrounded by Vancouver’s diverse landscape. In one direction you could see the city’s surrounding mountain range while on the others you could see the city skyline of West Vancouver. After paddling for around 30 minutes, the team was given its first team bonding task that included making a starfish out of our boats. This may sound like an easy task, but it took us almost 10 minutes to finally get all of our boats in formation. Once all of our kayaks resembled a starfish rather than a highly mutated blob, we quickly broke apart and continued on our journey.

Kayaking for this long length of time was definitely tiring for our arms, but it did not stop us from fooling around in the least. From our ‘reckless driving’ of kayak bumper cars to continual splashing, we made sure to enjoy the team bonding and beautiful surroundings as we paddled. Some girls on the team even got to see a seal in the water as they paddled around. I must admit, I think the best prank pulled on the kayaking tour was done by myself and sophomore Brooke Kelly. We were in a double together and realized that without the kayak’s rudder in the water it was almost impossible to turn properly in the wavy sea water. Coming up close to Cory’s double, Brooke quickly lifted up his kayak’s rudder without him noticing and then the two of us sped away. After almost 5 minutes of Cory struggling with his turns and confusion with his pedal mechanics, senior Sarah Crist finally helped out him with his rudder. With tears of laughter running down our faces, we knew it was a mission well accomplished and hoped we wouldn’t be paying for this prank later.

A second team bonding exercise was given to the team as we were asked to line up to form a raft. Once all the boats were lined up, we were introduced to the game “piano keys race.” This game basically included two people getting out from their kayaks and racing around the line of kayaks. The first pair up was senior Mary Hobbs and junior Bryn Bissey. On their hands and knees, the two of them scooted around the line of kayaks.  Hobbs eventually won the race, but not before Bissey was dunked, as she fell between two separated kayaks. Other races included Sarah Crist versus Coach Cox, junior Megan Holt versus sophomore Jen DiMaria, and sophomore Catherine Aronowitz versus sophomore Sedona Murphy. The races left everyone winded and laughing, as the sight of everyone falling and clinging on for dear life was greatly amusing.

The last team bonding experience on our sea kayaking tour was a final race. We all lined up at the starting line and took off hoping to win. What we did not realize when starting this race was that (1) we were fighting against a very strong current and (2) the finish line was much further away than what we expected. A lot of us started the race off strong, but we quickly realized this ‘hidden conditioning’ was going to leave us drained. After what felt like forever, a bunch of us reached the finish line completely exhausted with numb arms. With our desire for kayaking quenched, the team headed back onto shore and said our goodbyes to our group leaders before handing back to the hotel for lunch.

Our afternoon consisted of conditioning and our last clinic. We found out earlier that day that our conditioning for the day was…THE RUN TEST! The news may have ruined our appetite for lunch, but we all manned up and went into the test with a positive attitude. We drove to the field for our conditioning and when we arrived we found out we would be starting our conditioning with some speed and agility runs, just the sprinkles on top of our run test. After Cory ran us through the warm up and quick agility sprints, we took the field for our run test. Twenty minutes later the test was over and the results were overwhelmingly positive. There was a lot of visible improvement giving the team a huge surge of confidence heading into pre-season next week.  From the continuous words of encouragement, one could also tell there was strong team camaraderie. With the conditioning out of the way, the team was able to focus on our final clinic led by Thea and Michelle. After two hours of hard play, the team left it all on the field and headed back to the hotel tired with a feeling of accomplishment.

For dinner the team headed out to a local restaurant named Yaletown Brewery. The team and the entire coaching staff enjoyed a meal together relaxing and looking forward to the next day that included white water rafting on the Chilliwak River.

After our team dinner in Yaletown

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Greetings from Vancouver!

Hello from the Haverford field hockey team in Vancouver! Here in Canada, the country of the famous Tim Hortons and loonie and tuney currency, the Haverford field hockey team will be coached in clinics by members of the Canadian national hockey team along with playing games against local club teams. In the midst of all this playing, we will be enjoying all Vancouver has to offer with its hiking, outdoor sports, and city life.

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Introducing Sydney Hyder

Sydney HyderSydney Hyder ’13 will be blogging for the Haverford College Field Hockey team during their trip to Vancouver.

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