Director of Athletics Mike Alden and Tiger Scholarship Fund Director for Advancement Nico Yantko are on the road today for Mike's monthly statewide outreach trip. Mike has made a trip like this once a month for over 16 years… he and numerous staffers have visited all 114 counties in the State of Missouri at least twice! We'll have updates from the road with Mike and Nico as the day progresses to give you a peek into the great Tiger fans & places that make our state so special.
As I have had about a week to wind down and take everything in, I can't help but reminisce and think about all the amazing memories I made in just 12 days this summer. Walking into a place where I knew no one, I was not sure what to expect. All of the girls on my Great Britain team were so inviting, and we were all there for one common goal; to medal at the European Championships.
Although we fell just short of our goal by placing fourth, we made Great Britain softball history. Not only did we beat the Netherlands for the first time ever, but we had the highest placing any junior team has ever had for Great Britain softball. We left everything out on the field and made our country proud. That feeling is tough to describe! We were definitely the loudest team to sing our national anthem before every game and each and every one of us were beyond proud to be there. Every time they started our national anthem it gave me goose bumps. Not many people get the chance to represent their country on a world stage, so I am very, very thankful. Those are the experiences that I will never forget.
The hardest part of the whole trip was the goodbyes. Coming from knowing nobody, then in just 12 short days you have to say goodbye to some of the most amazing friends you will ever meet. We all live in different parts of the world: Italy, Australia, United States or Great Britain, and you realize you may not ever see them again. We literally spent 24 hours of the day together for 12 days. Even though it is so tough to part ways, social media plays a huge part in staying in touch. The first few days we all added each other on every social media site you could think of, and we all will continue to stay in touch. It is also pretty cool knowing that if I ever travel to any of these countries, I will have a couch to crash on!
Looking back on the trip, I think I laughed more than I slept. We laughed together, we cried happy tears together, we hugged together, we sang together, we played together, and we represented Great Britain together. If you're lucky enough to play international softball, do not ever pass up the chance!
For now, I am preparing to head back to the United States soon and start helping Mizzou towards its goal: a national championship. Thank you, Mizzou fans, for supporting me on this incredible journey around the world. It's time to get back in Black & Gold and win a championship!
Because of the rain, the game schedule got crazy and we were playing really early in the morning and really late at night, which is why I haven't been able to update this blog as often. Also, two years ago at this tournament, a lot of teams complained that there were not enough games; especially for all the money they spent on travel. So this year, the tournament organizers took that into account, and may have went a little overboard. Many teams played a minimum of nine games, and we could have had a maximum of 12 in six days. This tournament was quite grueling with the game schedule, so many teams had to be very strategic with lineups in order to rest players.
Since the last blog, we had just started a game with Belgium that got rained out. So Tuesday morning we had an early wake-up call at 5:45 a.m. Our first game was scheduled for 9 a.m. against Germany. We were expecting Germany to be a close game, but we knew they were very beatable. The first couple innings we came out a little slow and weren't hitting and the Germans were taking advantage of some of our miscues. They went up three runs early, but later in the game we struck back for five runs and that score stood! We beat Germany in a tight game, 5-3. Later that day around 3 o'clock in the afternoon, we restarted the rained out Belgium game from where we left it in the top of the third inning. We were already up 4-0 and our bats came out hot. We ended up run-ruling them in five innings, which was nice so we could save some of our pitching and get our non-starters some at-bats.
Wednesday, we had another 5:45 a.m. wake-up call. We were all exhausted from the day before, but we were super stoked because we were now 3-0 as a team. We played Lithuania the first game, and we scored about 15 runs in the first inning to end up run-ruling them in three. We were then able to rest our bodies for a huge game against Russia. They always have a good program, so we were really preparing ourselves to play for a tense game. They started their ace pitcher, but we came out swinging. We brought out the mercy rule again, with a score of 9-2 victory in five innings. This was a huge win for the many of the girls, because they had never beaten Russia while they were growing up in the under-13 and under-16 tournaments.
Thursday was one crazy day. We had yet another 5:45 a.m. wake-up call and our first game out was the Czech Republic. At this point, these games were really starting to determine who advances to the round of four and who starts to play consolation games. The Czechs were certainly ready to play and they shut us out. Their pitcher was arguably the best pitcher in the tournament and many of our girls had never seen pitching like that. Once we lost that first game, we were all kind of bummed, but it actually worked out best for us. We now had an easier route to the final four. The next game was against France, and we were able to put the Czech game behind us. We ended up with another run-rule win, beating France in five innings, which put us in a position to play the Netherlands.
This is a game that I will never ever forget. We were down 5-0 in the bottom of the seventh and came back and tied it! Then we went down again (and in international tie breaker) by two runs, and we ended up beating them 8-7! This was hands down one of the biggest wins in GB softball history. This win put us in a position for the top four. Friday morning, we played Italy and we played a tight game with them but we came up just short. That bumped us down into the bronze medal game with Russia. By this time, we were running on pure adrenaline and Russia proved the depth that they had. We unfortunately lost that game, but that put us placing fourth in the tournament and ultimately fourth in Europe. This was the highest placing ever for the Great Britain under-19 softball squad.
This has been such an amazing experience with 15 girls who had just met one week ago. Most of us knew nobody and we all came from different parts of the world. To come together and have a run like this made it extra special. I am so proud to represent Great Britain!
Thanks for following along with this blog!
Hello again, I'm back! But now... I am in Holland!
During the last blog, myself and the Great Britain U-19 team were still in England and getting ready to head out for our last morning of training on Saturday. So on Saturday, we just did a light batting practice and did a lot of stretching and recovery. Then we went back to the hotel and got ready for a fun afternoon in London. Our hotel was near a train station, and the nice thing about London is you can buy a day pass that covers all public transportation. At the subway station, we got split into teams and were told we were doing a scavenger hunt around London!
The subway ride was about a 10-minute ride into Paddington Station. This is a massive subway station that is almost like an airport terminal. Once we got to Paddington, the race was on and all the teams split up. We had about 28 challenges that included all the famous sites of London. We went to Buckingham Palace, St. Andrews Cathedral, The London Eye, Big Ben, Downey Street and so many others. It was such an amazing afternoon and I was able to see practically every tourist spot in central London.
When we got back to Paddington Station to meet up with the other teams, we looked at all of our pictures (you had to document everything with a photograph) and my group was the winner! We were able to complete 24 of the 28 challenges in just about four hours. Overall, it was such an amazing afternoon spent with my team.
On Sunday, we packed up everything and caught a quick 35-minute flight into Amsterdam. Once we got into Amsterdam, we had about an hour ride to Rosmalen, which is where the tournament and our team hotel are located. But where we are staying is not really like a hotel at all! It is this huge house with a bunch of dorm-style rooms, sitting on a farm. There is a lot of open space to lounge around outside, or play volleyball and football (or soccer as us Americans know it).
Wheels down in Amsterdam! GB softball is about to take care of some business! ⚾️-- Kirsten Mack (@kmackkk27) July 20, 2014
Yesterday, Monday, we had an early morning leaving our "farm dorm" at 8:30 a.m. to get to the fields early enough to figure out how everything was going to work. Our first game of the tournament was against Serbia. We came out swinging our bats and put up 13 runs in the first inning! We ended up winning by run-rule in three innings, but it was so awesome to be able to play Serbia because of their story. It really brought into perspective how lucky we are in the United States. The Serbian team comes from a very war-torn country, and just being able to get the funding to come here was such blessing for them. Yes, they were down after the first inning, but that did not matter to them. They were just so stoked to even be there. It was very cool to be a part of that.
We were supposed to have a one-game break, but that ended up turning into a four-hour rain delay. The field guys did an amazing job getting the fields playable, and we were able to start our second game against Belgium around 5:45 p.m. By the third inning, the rain was pouring again and the umpires had to call it. We left the game up 4-0 and will resume play Wednesday morning. The weather is looking much nicer for the rest of the week, so that is positive!
Huge win over Germany this morning. Next up we are resuming play against Belgium from last nights rain out! #GBsoftball-- Kirsten Mack (@kmackkk27) July 22, 2014
Anyways, we continue playing hopefully the rest of this week, finishing off our game with Belgium and then we play Germany. After that it goes into a bracket, so it will depend on winners and losers of other games. We are looking very strong and hoping to have one of the best finishes in Great Britain history!
Hey Mizzou fans! I hope you're all having a great summer!
Wow! It has been quite a whirlwind these past three days. Traveling all the way to London to play for my country is such a tremendous honor. Some of you may be wondering how I am able to play for Great Britain since I was born in the United States. Well, my dad was born and raised in Scotland and moved to the U.S. when he was an adult. Because of his citizenship, I am able apply for and gain citizenship in Great Britain! The cool thing is that I have my normal U.S. passport, as well as a British passport!
My long, long trek to London started on Tuesday morning when I left my house in California. It started out with a four-hour plane ride to Houston, followed by a nine-hour flight from Houston to London. I left California at 10 a.m., Tuesday, and got into London at 10 a.m., Wednesday. On top of that, from California to London is a nine-hour time difference. That made for a very exhausting two days of travel!
Once I got to London, a couple of my new teammates picked me up from the airport and brought me to one of their houses. I was able to get a little rest since I hadn't slept in over 24 hours. That same day (yes, this is still Wednesday!), we drove to our hotel accommodations in Slough, England, unpacked really quickly and got ready to go to the softball fields. We did some cool softball-related, team-bonding activities so we could get to know each other. Finally around 9 p.m., we got back to the hotel and as soon as I hit my bed, I was asleep. I have never been so tired in my entire life!
The past two days of training (Thursday and earlier today) have been long and exhausting, but very necessary! Unfortunately, it has been England's hottest two days all year the past two days.
Being that we have girls from Australia, Italy, the United States and Great Britain, we all do things a little differently. Trying to come together and mesh as a team in five days is quite the task, but we are all in it for one thing... to qualify for the World Championships next year. The team has a lot of talent and we are already looking really sharp. We have six pitchers and tons of different options in the field.
Also, the team gets along great! I can't believe I have only known my teammates for two days because it seems like I have known them for much longer. They have all been so inviting to us "foreigners", and we love to talk about the differences in our countries. The Great Britain natives always talk about how they love our American accents, and I think that is so weird that they say I have an accent. We love to argue about which country is right and which country is wrong when it comes to pronunciations of words. It is really interesting to discuss the differences in our softball, schooling and social life between all the different countries.
Day 2 of training! #GBsoftball-- Kirsten Mack (@kmackkk27) July 18, 2014
Anyways, it has been an absolutely amazing three days, so far, and tomorrow we get to take the afternoon off from training and go into London. I can't wait to share the rest of my trip with you all. Thanks for reading!
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