5-2

Let’s do a recap of the past couple days first….

We lost to Japan in OT. We fought really REALLY hard, but got the short end of the stick. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. It stung. It was our first loss, it kept us from reaching our goal of 5-0 in pool play. Still, we hung together as a team and a family.

For dinner we got to go to Lake Ontario. It was so beautiful! The water was clear and even though we were down from our loss everyone tried to look past it and stay in good spirits. Wednesday we had the first round of playoffs. In order to stay in the championship bracket, we needed to beat New Zealand to make it into the Elite 8. After our stinging overtime loss vs. Japan, there was definitely an extra spark there for us to play our hardest. Our goal for pool play was to go 5-0. We went 4-1, which was pretty darn close. We decided to make a new goal for playoffs, which was make it into the top 8. Our first time at the World Cup, to finish in the top 8 in the World would be more than an achievement. It would be historical.

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In a very physical battle, we came out on top!!! We beat New Zealand 12-9. They had a run towards the end, but instead of getting flustered, our team stayed composed and kept the lead.
This win clinched are fate. We made it to the Elite 8. We accomplished our goal, but we weren’t going to stop there.

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For dinner everyone got dressed up and we went to a really nice Italian place. It was so fun, even though everyone was exhausted we were cracking jokes and just having a really great time together. It’s amazing to me that a group of 20 girls, after spending 3 weeks together, still want to be around each other all the time.

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Last night, we played #2 Canada for a spot in the final 4. We knew this was going to be tough. Not only are they a very established, strong program with elite players (most of them play Division 1 in the US), but we are playing on their home turf. Our game was prime time. It was on TV, and there were a lot of fans there. We held our own and caught them off guard. We played lacrosse like we had never played before. The half time score was 6-4. I repeat: 6-4. The second half they came out mad and went on a run and we ended up lost 17-5. The score is not a good representation of the game. It was back and forth the entire time. Don’t believe me? Ask the midfielders. They are still asleep. Just kidding.

last night was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. One of our teammates never was able to have a Bat Mitzvah. What id our team do? We threw a Bat Mitzvah for her. We’ve been together for 20 days, yet we still want to be around each other at 11pm at night when we could be sleeping and taking time for ourselves. It was in a meeting room, Julia, literally the most amazing guitar player I have ever met, played jams, we ate ice cream and just celebrated. There was the prayer before reading the torah, the Hora, and some American jams (my favorites, The Call, Grenade, and Wonderwall). Lauren’s get up consisted of a flag as her Talis, a decorative headband, happy birthday balloons, a happy birthday necklace and a Star of David necklace made out of paper.

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If before now you weren’t convinced that this team is more than friends, but family, I hope that changed your mind.

If you know me well, which most people reading this blog do, you know that 85% of the time I am not serious. I’m either joking around, laughing my face off at whatever is happening, being sarcastic, singing awfully, or sleeping. This is about to be the most intense 15% ever.

Most of the time, I am a passive aggressive person. I’m not proud of that but It’s the truth. I am not a fan of confrontation. Sit at a dinner with my family. I love my family to death, and I respect all of them, but we are very opinionated. We have many “discussions” at dinner regarding things such as politics, religion, or just day to day news. I’m the one sitting there, trying to change the subject to something about me…

I truly believe that most people have their opinions and it will not change no matter what, and unfortunately want nothing to do with anyone else’s opinions. That might be why I usually don’t bother to get into with people. If someone wanted to have a discussion with me about something, like an actually discussion where you hear my side and I hear yours, where there are some “I see your point, but…” Thrown in there. That usually isn’t the way it works..which is fine but don’t expect me to entertain you with my opinion. Usually…..

There is a lot of press going around about the Israeli team not playing on Shabbat. I first and foremost want to thank ALL of my friends and family. For those of you who support our decision, THANK YOU. Your words are more meaningful than you will ever know. For those of you who don’t support our decision, THANK YOU. I have not received a hateful message, comment, wall post, text, phone call or anything, and I appreciate that more than YOU will ever know as well. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by such good people.

Just a side note. This is NOT a religious decision. This is something that the entire country observes, no matter how each individual decides to make use of this time. I first heard about our decision not to play lacrosse on Shabbat at TRYOUTS. We knew this coming into the program. It’s true, when you hear that you’re like Ok cool….got it. There has never been a doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t play on Shabbat. And that’s fine by me.

If you have been following my blog from the beginning, you know the amazing experiences we got to have in Israel. If anything, it inspired me even MORE not to play on Shabbat. I learned all about the Israeli culture. I got to celebrate Shabbat in an orthodox synagogue IN TEL AVIV. I also got to learn about Israel from my teammates who live there and are so informed about everything going on. After experiencing Israel, I have never felt more passionate about NOT playing a sport in order to represent the country on the front of your jersey’s.

As the Israel Women’s National Lacrosse team, we are more than lacrosse players, just as any other country is. The US team is representing the belief and culture of the US. The Latvia team is representing the beliefs and culture of Latvia. Team Japan is representing the beliefs and culture of Japan. We are all on the same page. This isn’t us thinking we are better or more entitled than any country, this is us being true to the culture of Israel. That’s it.

We are doing something positive for the state of Israel. We have won 5 games at the World Cup. We are one of the best 8 teams in the World. Not only that, we carry ourselves with poise, class and pride. This whole experience is bigger than the 25 of us.

Yes, I live, work and grew up in the United States. I never went on birthright. However after being in Israel for 11 days, I feel so connected to the country and to the people. I may have signed autographs one other time in my life, but being around the youth programs in Ashkelon, having 5th and 6th grade girls look up to you when you know that might be all they have to look up to, and knowing that you helped grow the sport you love is an amazing feeling.I also feel so close to my teammates, coaches, and Scott Neiss, the director of ILA. The sport of lacrosse will never ever be played on Shabbat in Israel. Why would we go against that?
I don’t think I have ever stood up for something so deep, meaningful, or controversial before. A lot of people have a lot of different opinions to say about this. If I read something that might hit a nerve, I just go down the hall to Schwabby or Jenna’s smiling face, Steph’s confident demeanor, Julia’s laid back swag or any one of my teammates and it reminds me why we are doing this.
I plan to go back every summer for as long as I can to help with camps and to promote lacrosse and experience Israel again and again. I also plan to have a lot of my teammates with me as I do so, because if there is one thing I know, it’s that we have grown bonds that will probably never ever be broken because we stayed true to who we are playing for: Israel.

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Today we play Scotland at 3pm. This will be for 6th place. This is our last game together as a lacrosse team, but just the beginning of something great as a family.

4-1!!!

The best and worst thing about this tournament, and this being our first time in the tournament, is that we have no idea what to expect from other teams. Yes, we know US, Canada, England and Australia are the big dogs, but other than that we really just don’t know. We can scout, talk to other coaches, etc, but we haven’t been together as a team that long so it’s hard to think of how you will match up. That makes it interesting when preparing….it almost makes it easier. You don’t find yourself underestimating teams. If anything, teams are definitely underestimating us. That might be why in our first four games we’ve gotten off 3 quick goals to start….forcing the other team to call a time out.

During our game on Friday, our team hit the ground running and never looked back. We had scouted Scotland and knew they were quick, but our team was on and played with passion and heart. We ended up winning 13-6, and loved every minute of it. I don’t think people knew what to expect from us, but I think we have turned a couple heads.

Friday night our team went to Shabbat services at a Chabad House near where we were staying. My mom came with me and it was nice to experience that with her, since it has been a while since we went to services together. I had the privilege of going to services in Israel but being with my mom was something special. After services we has Shabbat dinner.

Saturday we observed Shabbat. I went to Toronto to spend time with my family and rest up! It was great to see my sister Alysa who lives in Toronto. She runs the Museum of Inuit Art, which is amazing. She gave us a tour and from someone who isn’t usually in to art, I found it extremely enjoyable and super cool to see what my sister does. We got to pick our favorite piece of art. Mine was a dancing polar bear. Why? Because I love dancing, and I love polar bears. Simple as that.

Sunday we had a game verse Korea. We won 19-2. Every player on attack scored so it was really exciting!

Monday our game was at 9am!!! We had to get up so early (now that I have finally gotten off “teacher time” it was a struggle). We beat Hong Kong 19-4.

Today we had a big game. We were undefeated and Japan was undefeated. We played hard but unfortunately we lost in over time. It’s really tough to lose like that. Being a player during training camp, I grew really close to these girls; I see them as my best friends and family. As a coach now, it’s tough to see my best friends upset after the game. We were all upset but we can only move forward from here. We didn’t reach our team goal of going 5-0 in pool play, but we came pretty damn close. I also know we have made a name for ourselves and people are starting to respect us as a good lacrosse team.

We reached our goal of getting into the championship bracket, so now we need to focus on that and get pumped for making history as the first Israeli women’s lacrosse team competing at the highest level.

Shabbat

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Yalla Israel! 1-0!!

I am going to do my best to blog every two days, because things get so hectic here that all I want to do is go to bed when we get back and we only have WiFi in the lobby sooooo it’s a little more challenging than I would like!

Yesterday was HOT here…good thing we are accustomed to scorching heat from the beautiful land of Israel. We started out the morning with a meeting. For those of you are facebook friends with me, you might be aware of the issue we are having here. We plan on making it to the championship bracket. If we make it to the championship game, we would have to play on Saturday. Saturday’s Israel observes Shabbat. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Shabbat, it is from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night. Everything in Israel shuts down. People celebrate many different ways…when it comes down to it, it is the day of rest. Originally, the championship would have been held on Friday, but a team dropped out and it has been moved. We as a team and an organization, from day one, said we would not play on Shabbat. This is something we still stand by. We have provided alternatives to the FIL that would help them accommodate this issue, but they are not willing to budge. Something that people don’t understand is that this isn’t necessarily about the Jewish religion. Israel shuts down on Shabbat. It is part of the culture of the country we are so proudly representing. This is more than just lacrosse for our team. This is doing something positive for Israel and being proud of our heritage which I have learned much more about in 11 days thanks to my teammates than I have my entire life. Everyone on the team is 100% on board for not playing on Shabbat.

We practiced in the morning and then got ready for the opening ceremonies!! We had no idea what to expect. We also didn’t have blow dryers or straighteners so we had to go all natural…..which according to Mazer makes me look like a gypsy. I’m ok with it.

When we got there, we hand around for a bit and then got our flag! It was really awesome to be with all of the other countries and see everyone so excited. While we were waiting, we sang Hebrew songs and just had a blast with eachother.

I’m not gonna lie it was pretty olympic like, without Michael Phelps. And maybe about .001 of the fans there…but our families were there that’s all that mattered because we had lots of cheers for Israel!!!

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It was such an amazing experience!!

Today we had our first game!! We played Germany. We were tied 3-3 and then went on a 10 straight goal run. I was coaching and it was incredible to watch how hard our team played. Everyone played together and with 100% intensity. We won 15-6. Lauren also got player of the match! And here’s a funny about Lauren………..The first day I was in Israel we had a pick up practice. We were using these goals that were kind of like rage cages but with soft ‘pipes’. One of them was kind of broken so we just left it off to the side. So we’re playing 7v7 and Lauren’s like intensely running off a double team and runs directly into the broken goal and falls down. Now at this point we all don’t know each other very well yet so we didn’t feel it was appropriate to laugh at her. Now, in retrospect, I’m thinking “remember when!” and look at her now!! She’s a beast on the field.

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Tomorrow we play Scotland. If we win, we automatically get into the Championship bracket!!!
Go Israel!!!!

Yalla!! lila tov!!

We Made It! We Made It!

Israel has arrived!!!!….after the most torturous traveling I have ever experienced… And half the team had it worse than I did!

Half of the girls had to leave the embassy at 2am for a 6am flight. Our flight was at 11:30. I get there and security is literally going through every piece or my luggage before I even check in. It was crazy. Then the same thing happened with my Carry on! I guess my Israel lacrosse shirt made me look suspicious.

We had a 12 hour flight to Toronto. I lucked out and got the window seat in an emergency exit row so I had tons of leg room. After naps, I Love You Man, Superbad and despicable me, we were almost there. We were flying in circles waiting for a storm to pass so we could land, and I think every baby on the plane decided simultaneously to cry hysterically.

We finally had to land at a nearby airport. We sat on the plane for almost two hours, and then finally took off and landed in Toronto. At this point it’s 9pm….4am Israel time. The poor other girls on the team had it way worse though. They had to fly to Poland, have a 7hour layover, then they ended up landing in Ottawa and had to wait for 3 hours on the plane. Then when they finally landed they had to stay on the plan for another hour.

We made it to our place at 2am. Where we are staying is nice! They are dorms but fancy. Each room has to separate bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. All I was saying when we got there was “WHERE IS THE LAUNDRY MACHINE? I NEED TO FIND THE LAUNDRY MACHINE!” The girls talked some sense in to me so I took a shower and went to bed.

This morning AFTER putting my laundry in, Jenna, Nicole, Lauren and I went to Tim Hortons and got breakfast. We also got our player packs which included our participant badges. That’s when it hit us. We are at the World Cup!!!!

We started out by taking our team picture. I must say we look pretty legit in our uniforms!!
After picture we had a short practice and then an exhibition game against the Netherlands. We killed it!!! Everyone played so great and we won 12-1! It was really fun.

I am so tired which is probably why I’m not being so detailed right now but I promise my posts will get better!! I can’t wait to see my family tomorrow!!
Tomorrow the opening ceremony will stream live for free on this website, so tune in if you can!!

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Last two days in Israel…. NOOOO!!

Ok, before I get into yesterday and today’s events (sorry I am so late…just super busy!!) I need to take a minute to talk about Shabbat services. We went to an Orthodox Temple for services. I really didn’t know what to expect. The women had to sit on one side and the men on the other. I was blown away by the service, there was a chorus of about 12 boys that sang every prayer and songs. They were so amazing, I caught myself watching with a big smile on my face! It must be the teacher in me…
There were a lot of people at the dinner and it was nice to see the support of the Turkish men’s team as well.

Saturday we went to the Dead Sea!! I have been waiting for that forever! We were all pretty nervous because we have blisters and cuts and that we knew would burn when we got in. The first thing we did was cover ourselves in mud. It was so awkward getting in the water because either your feet were in the air or your butt was in the air. We finally figured out how to ‘stand’ in the water by balancing. We also made a human centipede which was fun until we realized blisters start to burn when they get out of the water rather than when they are in it!! The water was so salty, thank goodness I didn’t get splashed or anything because that would have been awful.

Kim, Sasha and I decided we wanted to swim, or float, to Jordan. That idea lasted about 30 seconds, as the farther we swam, the hotter it got. And because we probably would have died before we even got half way there.

After we got out we took the Mt. Everest climb up to the showers. Seriously. It was so steep and slippery and dangerous…but we made it. It was so refreshing to wash all the sand off!

After the Dead Sea we went to En Gedi. It is a park that has these beautiful natural waterfalls. that go about 1,300 feet up. We walked all the way to the top waterfall, up and down these stone stairs. It was crazy. It was also really HOT. I thought I might melt on the way up, but when we reached the top waterfall it was amazing. The best part…it was COLD!!!! The ocean in Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea are very warm and very salty. This is cold, clean water! It was so refreshing. Then we made our way down, stopping at the springs and waterfalls to cool off.

Once we got back to the embassy we had a BBQ and went to bed. It was a long, fun filled day, and we had practice the next morning…..

Day 10!!
This morning was our last practice. Afterwards it really hit us that we are leaving soon! We went home, showered and got ready for another full day of experiencing Israel. Today we went to
Jerusalem. Our first stop was the Holocaust Museum. I have been to the one in DC before, but there was a different feeling to this one because it was in Israel. I have never read so much. Being here has helped me find a love for learning about the country. It is always hard to read about the tragic things that happened at the holocaust. It was a beautiful museum.

Our next stop was the Wailing Wall. Before we went, Cherry took us up to this hidden gem where we could see Je-RU. I’m gonna try to get a picture in here…we’ll see. If not it’s on Twit twit.

The Wailing Wall was interesting. I didn’t know you are supposed to walk backwards after you visit the wall. This represents not turning your back to the wall. Talia also taught me that the wall used to be a supporting wall to the Temple mount. The wall is the closest you can get to the Temple mount, so it is considered the Holiest place for the jews. Some people will not go up to the Temple Mount because they believe it is too Holy. I put a note on the wall, walked backwards and took in the experience.

After visiting the wall, we went shopping and headed home. Now everyone’s packing and getting ready to head to the World Cup! I am lucky because my flight is direct, but a lot of the girls have to fly to Poland, have a 6 hour layover and then get to Canada. This is my last post from Israel and it makes me VERY sad! I have really enjoyed my experience here and I hope to come back next summer and help out with the wonderful lacrosse programs they have going!

Day 7 and 8 in Israel

Wow, these days are going by so fast!! I can’t believe in just 3 days I will be off to Canada with my amazing teammates. I have learned so much in the past two days about Israel.

Yesterday, I woke up to the most pleasant smell….chocolate chip pancakes. Julia made them before we woke up and I can’t even tell you how good they tasted. It was like eating a Georgetown Cupcake.

After we ate, we went and played lacrosse on the beach around 9am. We went through a partner passing routine which was really fun with the ocean right behind us. The funniest part was the look on everyone’s faces as they walked by us wondering what the heck we were doing! Lacrosse is still a foreign sport to Israel. Although it has grown so much since Scott and the boys began the program, we still get the occasional “tennis?” or “butterflies?” or just flat out “what is this??”. The best answer we have come up with is “like hockey, but the sticks are up instead of down and the ball is in the air, not on the ground”

After playing on the beach, we went back to the embassy and got ready for the day. Our first stop was Sderot. We had a tour guide who is in the process of making a documentary about the Gaza attacks. Sderout is not even a mile from the Gaza Strip. Over the past 13 years, Gaza has been sending random rocket attacks over to Sderot, aiming at civilians. In Sderot, they have balloons and radars that can detect when a rocket is launched. The civilians have 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter. Over the years the government has built a ton of bomb shelters so close together so that anyone can run to one if they hear the alarm. Laura told us about how when the alarms go off, people will leave their cars on, jump out and run to the closest house or bomb shelter. It is crazy to see and I can’t even imagine living like that. Each apartment, house, school movie theater either has a bomb shelter in it or has a completely bomb proofed building.

Laura also informed us about the fact that young children who have experienced this from the time they were born often have PTSS as they grow up. Being a teacher, and also being terrified of lock downs which most of my friends know, it is scary to think about the fact that almost every day for a few years you had to react to an alarm that could end your life or your family and friends. She showed us the rockets that have been collected over the years. The idea behind these rockets are similar to the Boston Marathon attacks. They fill them with nails and bullets and other things that explode when it hits the ground. It is awful to think about. We also went to a platform where you could literally see the Gaza Strip. It was insane to see how close the two places are.

After feeling very informed, we left and went to Ashkolon. The men’s National Team was playing Turkey that night and we went to practice there before they played. It was really cool to watch them play AND to see so many of the kids from the camp showing there support. The kids that I worked with the other day reviewed how to count and we cheered and danced. It was so much fun. The men’s team dominated, too, so that made it more enjoyable!

Today we woke up early for a morning practice. After practice we went straight to an Army Base known as the FIDF which means Friends of the Israel Defense Force. They patrol the boundaries and make sure that there area is safe. They are doing everything they can to keep civilians safe and to make sure awful tragedies like the Holocaust never happen again. We went out to a spot where they showed us a Palestinian city and the gate that keeps them out of their area, unless they are given special permission for work or other things, even though he said that often a Jihad will sneak in a harm people. We got to see the control center and how they patrol the area. It was really interesting.

After we got back, we went to the beach!! It was nice to just chill out and relax. Now we are all getting ready for Shabbat services and dinner!!
Shabbat Shalom!!
For pictures go to twitter.com/coachdaviapro

Day 4, 5, 6 in Israel

Day 4 and 5 I didn’t get to blog yesterday because I was SO tired!! We had our first two practices Monday, one in the morning, one in the evening. I have literally never trained with girls as talented as this team. This is a whole new level of lacrosse. It’s amazing. The coaches are great and I am learning so much as a player and a coach. I can’t wait to teach my teams the things I have learned!

It is pretty hot here, especially away from the beach! We are sucking it up though and giving everything we have at practice. In between practice I rested and slept. Ali, Taylor and I found this place for dinner that has legit pasta…it was so good…penne with pesto sauce and broccoli. So yummmmy.

Monday night Julia, our goalie, played guitar and I TRIED to sing. It was a lot of fun, she is so good! She even knew how to play one of my favorites, BSB ‘the call’…

Yesterday we had practice in the AM and then came back to our place. I took a nap and then read, but I was pretty beat. We did some chalk talk and then went to the field in the afternoon to go over everything we learned. Our team is looking better and better every day! Yesterday afternoon I was mostly helping coach rather than playing which was a lot of fun.

One of the craziest things I have seen so far is that when we are at practice, there are these kids who ride around on horses with nothing but a rope. Not only that, but there was a baby horse following behind them WITH NOTHING!! No halter, no lead rope, nothing! It is just crazy. What was even more ridiculous was that I definitely saw them galloping down a different street.

Day 6

Almost our last 6am wake up!! They are getting easier though. After practice, Ali and I went with some of the boys players to Ashkelon to work at the camp they have been running. It was such an amazing experience! The camp consisted of about 50 kids, half girls and half boys. The girls were so precious!! They were just gleaming with happiness play lacrosse. It was so awesome to see. They were also very personable which, anyone who works with kids knows, makes things a lot easier!! They were teaching me how to say things in hebrew like ” I am excited” and “I love Israel” and they helped me work on “My name is Davia” and all of my numbers! We did some relay races and played mini games which were really fun. The girls were cheering for each other and celebrating with such enthusiasm. We want these kids to love lacrosse and I think that the men’s team is doing such an incredible job with it…there wasn’t a kid at that camp not smiling. :)
After camp was over everyone wanted autographs and pictures. It was so fun. I am so happy I got to experience that.

Then came the adventure of a lifetime. Ali and I had to take a bus back to Tel Aviv. We have never been on a bus in Israel nor do we speak Hebrew AT ALL!!! Every stop we were like “do you think this is it?”…it was a 50 minute bus ride so you can think how stressful that was! Finally I went and asked the bus driver how many more stops, and it was the next one!! So we get out at the bus station and have no idea what to do. We needed to take a sherut to our street. When we got into the bus station it was like an indoor flee market. It was pure madness. Ali and I were finally going to give in and ask someone but we found a door to the outside world and voila! Sheruts! We needed to find a number 4, which we eventually did. We asked if they were going to our street and they said yes, so we crossed our fingers and hoped on. We constantly looked over at each other thinking ‘Where the heck are we’…and then we finally saw the a street we recognized. We made it home without having to call anymore and without getting lost or dying. I can’t believe it. We were so proud of ourselves, but exhausted from our trip. We had our afternoon practice. My “tibialus anterior” (thanks for the correction Bro-line!) is hurting. I’m trying not to be a baby about it but it hurts every now and then, kind of like rolling your ankle for a bit and then it feels a little better. Mike taped it for the afternoon practice to keep my toes from pointing down to far which causes the pain, and it really helped. Tomorrow we get to play our blue and white scrimmage! I am excited!

I was glad to hear things are going well back home…7v7 and Axis training are off to a smooth start and of course Malory and Karoline are taking care of my Hero’s team!

Yala!