In The Dugout by Stacey Nuveman - Three-peat winners of the Olympic Gold Medal!!
By Stacey Nuveman
How much better can it get than that?!? The last couple weeks have been absolutely amazing, and we've barely taken our medals off. It is amazing how much attention you can get just wearing it around - people want to know if it is a REAL medal, and once you tell them it is, they want to touch it and say they have held a real Gold Medal!
The media attention for our team has also been amazing. The day after the Gold-medal win, we were all booked almost the entire day doing various talk shows and media interviews. Probably the biggest aftershock of our performance here in Athens was that we were selected to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated! I cannot tell you how excited we all were when we heard. That, to me, means you have arrived in the sports world! It is an awesome shot, and "our" particular issue is available NOW back in the States. So you better get down to your local 7-Eleven and buy yourself a copy!
We were also on the Today Show, the Lester Holt show, Fred Roggin's morning sports show in Los Angeles, Cold Pizza on ESPN, David Letterman's Top Ten List, Access Hollywood, and a bunch of other NBC news interviews. It was exhausting but fun. And the real kicker for me was that my infamous karaoke of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean was part of the package that Access Hollywood used. I am not sure if I am embarrassed or hoping it is my "big break", but either way it was broadcast across the UNIVERSE! Maybe American Idol will call now...
After the conclusion of the softball competition I was able to stay in Athens for a few days with several of my teammates. Some of us decided months ago that we wanted to stay at the Games after we finished competition so we could enjoy some of the city and see some other events as well. We made it to a men's basketball game and an evening at the main track & field stadium. We watched the finals of the men's pole vault, where USA won gold and silver. That same night we watched Marion Jones fail to medal in the long jump, and the unfortunate situation with the 4x100 women's relay final. Some of the girls also went to the Gold Medal match for women's soccer, which was exciting as it was the last time the super-star veterans of US Soccer will play together. And fittingly, they went out on top, winning the GOLD!
We also had a "sightseeing" day so we were able to hit the Parthenon, Acropolis, and Ancient Olympic Stadium. It would have been a crime to be in Athens and NOT see the amazing historical sites. Other than those major sites, we didn't have much time to see the city of Athens. You must remember that we played every day of our competition, so were a bit preoccupied!
A few of us also made a short trip to Santorini Island, one of the MANY small islands in Greece. Let me tell you...it was BEAUTIFUL! The view was stunning, and the setting was very much as you would imagine Greece...blue waters, crisp white buildings dotting the cliffs of the island, and a spectacular sunset. We only went for one night, but were glad we did. We were able to relax for a day and see the "other" side of Greece. Athens is nice and all, but more or less a city (albeit with a TON of history). Santorini was the romantic island most of us imagine Greece being...unfortunately my husband had already left for home!
This past weekend, my parents threw me a Gold Medal Bash in celebration of the victory. They threw a similar party after the Gold medal in 2000, and I couldn't believe that four years had passed and we were already at it again! The most common question I was asked from family and friends was which victory, 2000 or 2004, was better. Really, I don't think either takes top-billing, but there is no doubt that each experience was vastly different.
In the year 2000, we struggled all the way through the tournament, and barely won the Gold by the skin of our teeth. Our training in 2000 wasn't as intense, but the tournament itself was much more stressful and gut-wrenching because of the circumstances. On the flip-side, 2004 in Athens was much less stressful. By no means was it easy (though it may have looked that way), but we played well throughout the entire tournament, so as a team we had more confidence and peace of mind.
The training regimen we went through in 2004 was much more strenuous and consistent, which I believe accounted for our performance. So in summation, this is how I put it: "We trained harder in 2004 so that the Olympic competition would look easier." And basically I believe that statement to be true. So neither Gold medal meant more than the other, and each had a dramatically different flavor and road to victory.
So we enjoyed our time in Athens (especially standing on the Gold Medal podium hearing the Star Spangled Banner), and are still savoring the moment now that we're home. Gold Medals don't come around every day, so we're living it up! Thanks to all of you for waking up at all hours of the morning to watch and support us. I hope the departure from normal sleeping patterns were worth it!!