VIRGINIA BEACH, VA – Two time Olympian Caroline Nichols (Virginia Beach, VA) returns to her old stomping grounds to face No. 2 Argentina in the US’s final preparations for the Olympic Games. The upcoming two matches on June 20 and June 21 will be played on Nichols’s home turf at Old Dominion University where she received numerous accolades, including being named CAA Player of the Year and CAA Defender of the Year, the first time in CAA history someone swept both honors in the same season.
Usafieldhockey.com caught up with Nichols in Virginia Beach to hear her thoughts about being back in her hometown and competing on her home turf as well as what she looks forward to in London.
What does it feel like to be back on the campus of Old Dominion University and competing on your home turf?
CN: It is really great to be back. I was flooded with a ton of memories coming back onto campus and I got this feeling of wanting to go back in time and do it all over again. But, the most forefront thought in my head was the great foundation that ODU gave me to get me to where I am today.
On June 11, you found out you were going to London to compete in your second Olympic Games. Has it hit you yet that you are a two time Olympian?
CN: No! It kind of hits me at random moments. I recall certain memories from the Beijing Games like team processing and walking into the Olympic village for the first time and little things like that hit me throughout the day and I get really excited. I can’t wait to see what London is going to be like.
Talk us through your meeting with Coach Lee Bodimeade and your thoughts going into that meeting which determined whether or not you would be a part of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team.
CN: I remember there was a really long hallway that felt like a mile long. We were called down individually to meet with Coach and the only thoughts going through my head were “Am I going to make it… am I not going to make it.” My hands were sweating and I kept asking myself “have I done everything I needed to, to make this meeting go the way I want it to.” I knew there was nothing else I could have done at that point and it was out of my hands. My heart was beating out of my chest as I sat down and waited for the news and finally Coach said, “Shaggy you’re going to London.”
In 2008, your high school coach sold her car to fly to Beijing to see you compete. Is there anyone special in your life that will be following you to London this summer?
CN: My coach from high school, the same one that sold her jeep in 2008, is coming to London to watch me play. But, she didn’t sell her car this time around! My great uncle will also be making the trip over the pond to see me play.
What was it like to face Argentina last night for the first time since the Pan American Games and in front of a large home crowd?
CN: It was a lot of fun just to play again. Typically against Argentina we are very serious and of course there is that huge rivalry between us, but last night was different in a very good way. We were relaxed with the pressure of selections off our shoulders and it was just a lot of fun to play in front of a home crowd and feel that home town love. We were disappointed with a tie, but the game showed the improvements that we have made in a couple of specific areas and it also exposed some areas that we need to continue to work on leading up to the Games.
Are excited about Saturday’s match being broadcast live on NBC Sports Network?
CN: It is super exciting. To be able to get our sport out there and expose young male and female athletes to the game who may take an interest in it is really great. I am glad that we have the opportunity to show everyone what this sport is about and it is definitely going to be a lot of fun to play on live television.
What would you say to a young athlete aspiring to be in your shoes someday?
CN: Never stop learning. Continue to work on the basics and always work hard. I am a firm believer that I will always outwork my opponent and I think in the long run that will always pay off for you.
What are you most excited for this summer in London?
CN: One of the things I am most excited about is about the publicity the sport is going to get and playing on the world stage with this group of women is going to be really special. I think we can do something very special in London and it is going to be really cool to be a part of that.
All nominations to the U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the United States Olympic Committee board of directors.
USA Field Hockey Press Release