Latest Blog Posts

Prois Hunting Apparel Photo Caption Contest- March 2012

Jump in and take part in the fun! Prois Hunting Apparel for Women is sponsoring a monthly photo caption contest which will be posted here, on the Prois Community Blog.

How do you participate? Simply supply a unique caption to go with our posted photo in the comments section listed below.

Why should you participate? Well, for starters it’s fun! BUT- the winner that is chosen by the Prois staff will become the proud new owner of a Prois Cap in Max-1, Max-4, or Realtree AP

What are you waiting for!? Give us YOUR caption!

Prois Award Finalist Spotlight….Meet Britney Starr!

It is our honor at Prois Hunting Apparel to be associated with so many amazing women. The 2011 Prois Award brought forward an amazing group of ladies who are hardcore to the bone…and still have time to invest their energy into conservation efforts and community service. Our 2011 Prois Award Recipient, Andrea Fisher, was announced in January of this year. Despite the fact that there can only be one winner for such an award, we at Prois felt it was important to spotlight each of our 12 finalists and their amazing stories! With that…meet Britney Starr!

“Obsessed”, “crazy”, “addicted”, “driven”, “passionate”, “hardcore”, and “extreme” are words that others have used to describe myself and my lifestyle. I agree with them all.

My name is Britney Starr and I was born and bred in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My existence revolves around hunting and I have been doing it for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are following my dad while scouting for turkeys and picking up turkey poop to show to him. “Santa” brought me a Browning 7mm mag rifle for Christmas when I was 12 and the following year I harvested my first Caribou with it. I traveled to South Africa on my first safari when I was 16. I have also been hunting whitetail deer, turkey and upland birds since I was 12 along with shooting trap and sporting clays.

In 2000 I was in a car accident that left me in the hospital for six weeks. It also left my arm and wrist severely injured. I was furious because it caused me to miss spring turkey season. I was a freshman in high school at the time and during the next four years I struggled with my injury but still managed to play varsity sports and continue hunting. I even went on my second safari. During my junior year I had additional surgeries on my wrist which caused a bone infection. I carried an IV bag that pumped antibiotics directly into my heart 24 hours a day. As it neared Michigan’s deer season my dad and I formulated a plan to go to deer camp. My mom protested, but I assured her that I would be fine. Come hell or high water, I was NOT missing another hunting season. I walked through the woods with a backpack holding the IV bag and pump and climbed (one handed) into my tower blind with my rifle slung across my back. Hardcore? Maybe. Crazy? Yes.

Side Note: My IV came out while I was asleep one night at camp. My dad had to shove it back in my arm and I was bleeding everywhere. Please don’t tell my mom-she still doesn’t know.

These struggles only ignited my passion for the outdoors. I realized that I wanted to make hunting a way of life and not just a hobby. I attended Western Michigan University and acquired a B.A. in journalism in hopes that I would become an outdoor writer. By the time I graduated college my dad and I had been on three safaris and were both working for a safari outfitter as U.S. Representatives. A few years later we decided to start our own safari company (Starr & Bodill African Safaris). I couldn’t be more ecstatic with our business venture. I am fortunate to spend three months out of the year traveling to Safari Club International shows around the mid-west and helping our clients make their safari dreams a reality. Our company donates numerous safaris every year to organizations like SCI, Kids Hunting for a Cure, RMEF, etc. I strongly believe that helping these organizations raise funds is imperative to the conservation of our hunting heritage and allowing future generations to experience what I have been privileged enough to experience thus far.

I recently started writing gear reviews for The Women’s Outdoor News online. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am to have the opportunity to write about outdoor products and network with other women that share my obsession for the outdoors and similar lifestyle. When I was growing up I literally thought I was THE ONLY girl that hunted. There were no women’s hunting clothes available and I had to wear my dad’s hand me downs. I am currently on a mission to replace all of my hand me downs with women specific hunting apparel. I love the fact that women have options with their gear now and several companies (Prois being one of them) offer practical gear for hardcore huntresses.
Hunting has become not only an obsession, addiction, and passion for me but it has truly become my way of life. I don’t feel it is necessary for me to list every single animal I have harvested in this essay, as I believe that hunting is more about the experience than the trophy. I cherish every minute I spend in the outdoors along with the memories it brings. Nothing is more sacred to me than the feeling of inner peace I experience during the journey. I will continue to contribute to conservation efforts and network with other women who hunt or aspire to become involved in the outdoors. The bond between fellow hunters and huntresses is unbelievably strong and I am blessed to be a part of this industry. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and considering me for the Prois Award.

Twin Biathletes Reach Top 10 and Podium!

Photos by the International Biathlon Union

Tracy and Lanny both reach the top ten in the IBU Cup!
Lanny Barnes made the podium for the second race in a row at the IBU Cup in Canmore, Alberta finishing a career best 2nd place in the 15km Individual race on Wednesday. Lanny led for most of the race hitting all 10 of her first 10 shots in the first two shooting stages. Her one miss on the day came in her third shooting stage while shooting prone. At that point she was still leading the race and hit all five of her last five standing to finish first, but was knocked out of the top spot by a late starter. Marina Korovina of Russia won the women’s 15K individual. She passed Lanny Barnes only on the last lap. Barnes finished second with one penalty, 8.2 seconds back and led the whole race until Korovina who started later in the race, had a surge on the last lap and just edged out the American.Tracy finished not to far from her sister in 11th place with 3missed shots.

Photo by the International Biathlon Union

Lanny Barnes smiled brightly at the finish. “This was so much fun today. It is amazing to be on the podium on North American soil. I think it helped a lot, not only that we did not have to fly so far but also to have friends and family close by.”

“I was really happy with the race today. I knew I was in race because I could practically hear the announcer everywhere on course and our staff kept giving me splits of leading the race. I probably started out a little harder than I wanted too and lost a little time in the end, but was happy that my skiing is coming around. I was bummed that Tracy wasn’t right in there with me, but she is just getting over a cold otherwise I think she might have given me a run for the money! We had really great skis today, Bjorn and Brandon have done a great job and have given us our best skis all year. It was also nice to have the coaches and my teammates out there cheering for me during the race. It definitely helps you push a little harder.”

Photo by the International Biathlon Union

On Thursday, the Barnes twins hit the tracks again for a 7.5km sprint race. Tracy made the top 10 for her third time this season finishing 10th with one missed shot. Having moved up in placing in every race in Canmore, she was happy with her result. “I came into these races just recovering from a cold, so I wasn’t 100%. I took it day to day and moved up in every race. I also felt a lot better skiing as the race series progressed. I’m happy to have finished in the top 20 in a really competitive field and jump into the top ten in the last race”, commented Tracy after the finish in the last race. Lanny finished 17th in that race with two costly missed shots that kept her from making the podium again.

With two podium finishes for Lanny and a top ten finish for Tracy, both twins were happy with the race series in Canmore. “To get my best results of the season and a best ever in my career, it gives me confidence and motivation going into World Champs coming up”, say Lanny. “I can’t wait to get back out there and end the season with some good performances at World Championships”. Lanny will head to World Championships next week in Ruhpolding, Germany where the races will kick off on the first of March.

Photo by the International Biathlon Union

“We’d both like to thank our sponsors and supporters for helping us get to those races. The races were not funded and were self pay, so without the support of our sponsors and organizations like the Durango Winter Sports foundation, we wouldn’t have been able to go.”

Check out www.twinbiathletes.com for more info, updates, and pictures. The Twin Biathletes are sponsored by Advanced Technology International, Otis Technology, Enell, SealSkinz/Danalco, Babes With Bullets. Supported by SportLegs, Smith Optics, Atomic, Elete, Pelican, Teludyne Tech, 110%, The WOMA, Prois, Columbia Southern University, The WON, The Durango Winter Sports Foundation

Photo by the International Biathlon Union

Grabbing Life by the Horns- A Silver Lining Leads to a Trophy Whitetail

It’s funny how sometimes horrible things happen in your life but within that horrible event good things happen that never would have happened if not for that horrible event. That’s how I feel sometimes when I think of my accident. No doubt is has been the hardest thing my husband and I have had to deal with, but in the same sense it has brought us closer and we look at life in a whole new perspective now. Things you would have thought important before are no longer, and you learn to be very grateful for what you do have. We have also met some wonderful people since my accident and that is how this little story began….

I went to Panama in January of 2011 for stem cell therapy. While we were there, my husband and I met a wonderful couple. They too were there for stem cell therapy because the wife has Multiple Sclerosis and the disease had taken over her body at a rapid speed. She too was in a wheelchair. While I was in treatment, Levi started talking to them man and their conversation soon turned to hunting. We come to find out they own a whitetail ranch in Texas. We immediately became close friends with them and they opened the invitation to have us down to their ranch.

So this January we went to Texas and they let me shoot a VERY beautiful whitetail. Bigger than any deer most people could only imagine shooting. We had an awesome time down there. We are so fortunate to meet people like them who also are going through tough times but still are so gracious and kind. We hope to visit again to see them and maybe go hunting again. It surely was a great way to start off a new year. The whitetail scored 200 and even though the picture doesn’t show very good detail he has great palmation on his left which is about as wide a my palm across. Beautiful animal, awesome time, and wonderful people. You can’t get much better than that!

Lanny Barnes Rocks!!!

Photo by Hannah Dreisagacker

Lanny Barnes of Durango, Colorado posted the best IBU Cup finish and a podium this year on the IBU Cup circuit yesterday with a fourth place in the sprint race. Lanny & Tracy Barnes competed for the US in the International Biathlon Union Cups in Canmore, Alberta this past weekend and will compete in two more races there this week on wednesday and thursday. With twenty three Nations competing in the first IBU Cup to race on North American soil, there was some tough competition for the Barnes twins. The races consisted of two 7.5km sprint races with three laps of 2.5km loops and two shooting stages, one prone and one standing. In the first race the twin sisters shot the same with one missed shot and finished 12th and 17th.

Photo by Pam Doyle QMI Agency cal-sports@sunmedia.ca

“I was a bit disappointed in the race (Saturday) with the missed shot in prone,” said Lanny Barnes. “You can’t afford to miss on a day like that with perfect conditions and I also felt like I skied to conservatively on the first loop. The great thing was we had another opportunity on the same course and same race format to give it another go today (Sunday).”

On Sunday they had another chance to race the same 7.5km sprint course and try for a better result. Both Barnes twins went out determined in the second race to improve upon their finishes, knowing that they were within striking distance of the podium. Lanny was in the lead for most of the race posting the fastest first two loop ski times and cleaning (hitting all 5) of her prone shots.

“I went out harder today on the fist loop and tried to keep up that pace throughout the race. I cleaned prone and kept getting good splits out on the course and decided to try and go for it in standing. I came in a little too hard and missed my first shot, but resettled and knocked down the last four.”

“After I skied my penalty loop I was suprised to get a split that despite my miss, I was still in the race. I hammered hard on the last loop and finished in third, but was bumped eventually by the Russian winner. I was happy with the result, but feel there is definitely room for improvement.”
Tracy also posted a better result from the day before finishing 12th also with one missed shot.

Photo by International Biathlon Union

“It gives me confidence going into the races this week knowing that hitting that one shot would’ve possibly given me the win. The skiing is finally there and shooting is something that has always been my strong suit. Tracy and I are both pushing for a top three in the races this week.”

The Barnes twins will race in a 15km Individual timed trail on wednesday and another 7.5km sprint race on Thursday in Canmore where they both hope that their results will earn them a spot on the World Championship team set to race in Ruhpolding, Germany in a few weeks. Tracy, who had been struggling the past couple weeks with illness is looking forward to the races this week.

“I wasn’t 100% coming into these races, but am feeling better and better every day and every race. I think a podium is definitely possible this week.”

“Even though we are racing in the Canadian Rockies, they are still the Rockies and are as close to home as we will get for an international biathlon competition.”, says Tracy. “it is so nice to race on North American soil and have the Europeans make the long trek overseas for a race. We are definitely counting this as a home court advantage and are going to try to take advantage of that this week”

Photo by International Biathlon Union

You can watch the twins races live over the Internet at www.canmorebiathlon.com. There will compete on Wednesday 2/15 at 1:30 pm MST and thursday 2/16 at 12:00 pm MST. Also check out www.twinbiathletes.com to follow their racing with updates and pictures.

Prois Hunting Apparel Photo Caption Contest- February 2012

We’ve chosen this month’s photo in the spirit of Valentine’s Day! Jump in and take part in the fun! Prois Hunting Apparel for Women is sponsoring a monthly photo caption contest which will be posted here, on the Prois Community Blog.

How do you participate? Simply supply a unique caption to go with our posted photo in the comments section listed below.

Why should you participate? Well, for starters it’s fun! BUT- the winner that is chosen by the Prois staff will become the proud new owner of a Prois Cap in Max-1 or Realtree AP

What are you waiting for!? Give us YOUR caption!

Prois Hunting Apparel Photo Caption Contest- January 2012

We’ve chosen this month’s photo in the spirit of motherhood! Jump in and take part in the fun! Prois Hunting Apparel for Women is sponsoring a monthly photo caption contest which will be posted here, on the Prois Community Blog.

How do you participate? Simply supply a unique caption to go with our posted photo in the comments section listed below.

Why should you participate? Well, for starters it’s fun! BUT- the winner that is chosen by the Prois staff will become the proud new owner of a Prois Cap in Max-1 or Realtree AP

What are you waiting for!? Give us YOUR caption!

Grabbing Life by the Horns- Karma, Sweet Karma…

By: Gina McLeod

After my bad luck doe hunting this year, I was a little weary to think about buck hunting during the Colorado fourth season. My husband and I went to Evergreen, Colorado in efforts to fill my tag. It was on the second day we were there that my husband spotted a very nice muley not far off the side of the road. This shot, of course was about 20 yards off the fence line in the area where we were hunting. Did I mention it was on the WRONG side of the fence line?

We were hunting with a friend of ours and he knew the property owners in the area. He decided to contact the owner of the property where the buck was located and ask if I could gain permission to hunt the buck on his property. Despite the fact that our friend had allowed this particular property owner to hunt his property in the past, the property owner refused to allow me to hunt the buck. I did become upset- being confined to a wheelchair makes hunting a bit more challenging and seeing a gorgeous muley standing broadside and not being able to take a shot was so frustrating.

We decided to drive down the road a bit in the hopes that the buck would eventually jump the fence if we left him alone. On our way back up we heard a gunshot! The property owner that refused to give us permission to hunt the buck decided to race home to shoot the buck for himself! As Karma would have it, he missed his shot. The buck jumped the fence and I was able to take my own shot. I shot him at about 60 yards and he went down!

Talk about some good luck! He is a beautiful non-typical and scored 193. I was very happy! Interestingly, the property owner was only 200 yards from me as I shot the buck!

I just wonder though, how mad that guy must have been that his buck was taken not only by a girl…but a girl in a wheelchair! I guess what goes around comes around.

Gina McLeod and her 2011 Buck!

A First Time Huntress

As a first time huntress, I was not sure of what to expect. I always tend to be cold, so I was a little concerned about spending a long weekend in the Mountains of Montana hunting Elk. My Prois gear kept me very comfortable and I love how it fit!

Before I purchased my Prois gear, I looked at several outfitter stores. It was frustrating to see all the great gear for men, but when it came to women, the selection was almost non-existent. I had a terrible time finding anything in my size and even when it was my size it didn’t fit well. I work in construction and I have the same problem when I’m looking for work gear, so I decided to do some research online. I discovered Prois through Bass Pro Shops website. I went to the Prois website and was amazed at the options I had! After reading several testimonials I decided to call my good friend Kim McCormick and ask if she had heard of the brand and if she had any opinions about it. Kim told me that Prois gear is what she wears and that she loves it. Knowing the experiences she’s had, I decided to give it a try.

When my order came in I was so excited to try it on. It was really easy to move in and the fabrics were amazing. They were tough, but soft and quiet. My husband even said that he was impressed with my gear and he wished they made some of the same things for men! I’m so pleased with my Prois gear and I will definitely be keeping my eye on the catalog to see the new products that come out. Thanks to Prois, I can’t wait until my next hunt!

Michele Dorsch
Pickett, WI

Three Weeks in Europe with the Lanny Barnes

By Tracy Barnes

Week 3: Conclusion… Ridnaun, Italy/ Hochfilzen Austria

After a week off from racing and some good training under my belt I was ready to race again. The weekend would host two races; an individual and a sprint race. The individual is our longest race and is 15 kilometers. This race is known as a shooters race because 1 minute is added for each miss as opposed to the normal 150 meter penalty loop we ski in all of the other races. It has been years since I’ve raced in Ridnaun, Italy and I have made a promise to myself that I’ll improve on my results from the last time I was here. That being said, I had quite a lot of work to achieve that. 10 years ago my sister and I competed here and became the first women to medal at a World Junior championship. We received a silver medal in the relay and in the individual race all those years ago, Lanny placed 3rd with one penalty and I placed 8th with 2 penalties. I vowed this time around I’d hit more targets and place higher up. The stakes were higher and the field was tougher, but I’d give it my best shot.

The individual race would consist of five- 3 kilometer loops with 4 shooting stages. Twice we would shoot laying down and twice we would shoot standing. The race course was tough and wound up and down the fields that made up this beautiful valley. The climbs were long, but more gradual. The most interesting part of this course was the fact that you could see everything that was going on. You could see the competitors in front of you and you could see the ones behind you. It really gave you a good idea of how you were doing during the race.

I started the race in bib number 29 out of 96 competitors. Each racer started 30 seconds apart. I started the race and I was relaxed, a huge change from the frantic race I had in Sweden a few weeks ago. I easily found a rhythm skiing on the long 3 kilometer loop. Today, I knew I was going to clean the race. At least I had that feeling. I don’t know how to describe it, but you just know. So, when I came into the range for the first time, I laid down and settled into a shooting point. The five shots went off smoothly, but when I looked back at the target, one of the five was left standing. I’d missed one! Damn. I thought. Well, cleaning the race was out of the question at this point, but the good thing about biathlon is, if you are patient and you don’t get all worked up, you can come back from a bad stage. So, that’s what I did, I hunkered down, focused on skiing my loops well and every time I came in to shoot I was patient and just let the targets fall. After I left the shooting range for the fourth and final time I was in a good spot. I pushed hard on the last loop and finished in fourth. But there were still over 60 women still to finish the race, so I waited and waited and waited.

When all was said and done I was bumped to 8th place. 1 target, that fateful target I missed, out of 2nd place. I had tied my finish from 10 years ago, but with one target better. I was happy. A top ten on the European Cup was hard to achieve.

An hour after my race I found out that I would be starting the World Cup relay the next day in Hochfilzen, Austria. So, I packed up my bags and hitched a ride with the Canadian team over to Austria. It was a busy day and even busier the next day. In the morning I got randomly drawn for the doping control, my second day in a row, having been chosen in Italy as well. So I made my way early to the venue, gave my blood and was off to the races. Lanny, who was sick, accompanied me on my warm up. It was nice to have someone to ski with. The race came and went in a flash and we ended up in a disappointing 14th place. It wasn’t my best performance either and I left with quite a disappointed feeling. The relay is my favorite race and no one takes it harder than I do when I feel I’ve let my teammates down. But there will be plenty of more relays this year and we’ll have our revenge!

Week 4: Obertilliach, Austria

This week we’d be back in Obertilliach, Austria. The place I spent a week training at just two weeks ago and the place I’d be spending Christmas. We would have two races this weekend; a sprint and a pursuit race. The sprint is three loops of 2.5 kilometers with 2 shooting stages. The results from the sprint determine your start in the pursuit. So, the person who wins the sprint, starts the pursuit. The person who is in 2nd place starts 2nd and starts in the time that they finished behind the person if first. Only 60 people qualify for the pursuit. After the sprint was done, I finished in 59th place. You don’t cut it any closer than that. Lanny, had a pretty good race after being sick and placed 33rd. The next day in the pursuit, Lanny would start 33rd and start at about 2 minutes behind the winner. I would start in 59th over 3 minutes back. Basically in the pursuit, everyone is trying to catch the person, or people in front of them. The first person across the line wins, so clearly the people who’ve had a better sprint, have more of an advantage in the pursuit. But that’s the crazy thing about biathlon. With so much pressure in the shooting, the person in first can drop 10 places with a missed shot in the first stage, the same goes for someone in the back, with good shooting you can really move up in the placings. That was my goal today, move up as far as I can.

The race started and I was feeling good. I skied behind a pack and came in to the shooting range and cleaned my first stage. My next three stages I missed one shot in each and still moved up. Until the last loop I skied pretty conservatively, too conservatively and so during the last loop I turned up the juice and started to pass people. It felt good to finally ski like I knew how. I was flying and had the 9th fastest last loop time of the day. I was psyched. I ended up moving up 22 paces to 37th place from 59th.

Week 5: Munich, Germany/ Obertilliach, Austria

The races last weekend were the end of the December World Cups and European Cups. Now all the athletes have a two week break before the racing picks up again after the new year. Two weeks seems like a lot of time, but if you add on travel to and from the U.S. and all the jet lag, there isn’t much time for training. Which is why Lanny and I choose to stay in Europe. It’s one of the hardest sacrifices we have to make. It’s not easy and not always enjoyable being so far away from your family on Christmas. And even though we’ve done this for many years now, it doesn’t get any easier, in fact, I think it only gets harder. But that’s the sacrifice you make to reach your goals.

So, after the races we traveled to Munich, Germany to watch some of our teammates travel home to the states. After they were on their way we turned the van south once again to head back to Obertilliach, Austria where we’ll spend Christmas. On our drive down, in honor of tradition, Lanny and I stopped in the town of Sterzing, Italy. A beautiful mountain town with picturesque buildings and quint shops. They always have a spectacular Christmas market, where you can buy hand made ornaments and knick-knacks as well as gluwine. Gluwine, is a favorite of Europeans this time of year, it’s a spiced wine that is served warm. It is good! So, the tradition that Lanny and I have is to take 20 euro and split up and buy each other a gift or gifts with a 20 euro limit. Mostly we buy little stocking stuffers and gifts that will help fill the time. The best part about it is you have to be pretty creative because 20 euro won’t get you very far. It’s always fun to see what the other came up with on Christmas day. Lanny’s worried this year that I out-did her. Must be her competitive nature, only a professional athlete would be worried about being out done in the gift giving arena. Of course I’m hoping I did out do her. 🙂

Later that day we arrived back in Obertilliach, Austria and this time we were staying at a different hotel. After we settled into our rooms we made our way down to dinner. When we turned the corner into the dinning room we heard a collective “Ohhhhh!” I looked up to see the Japanese team sitting in front of us. They were so excited to see us. We’ve spent many a Christmas’ with the Japanese team in Europe. They aren’t afforded the opportunity to go home for Christmas because of the long travel, so it’s often we find ourselves together in some mountain biathlon town.

We have been friends with the Japanese team for a really long time…well… let me clarify….we’ve enjoyed each other’s company for a really long time. I think of them as friends and I want to think that they feel the same way, but our friendship involves a lot of smiling, waving, and bowing. It was only a few years ago that some of the team members started to learn English and Lanny and I are desperately trying to learn some Japanese. So, I guess you could say that we have a very non-verbal relationship. Mostly we just exchange gifts. And we get really excited when we see them, and they get really excited when they see us. Yep, that about sums it up.

Well, this year, we wanted to do something special for them, so we had a cake made at a local bakery and then we added our own decorations. Lanny drew a card and we were all set for the delivery. That night we arrived early at dinner and set the cake, which was in a box, down on their table with a note. As the Japanese team trickled in only a few of them noticed the cake and those few hadn’t yet figured out why this box was sitting on their table. Being the shy people that we are, we got too excited and embarrassed to sit and wait, so we finished our dinner and went to our room.

About an hour later we hear some commotion out in the hall. I turn my head to listen and all I can here is “Hello… Hello….” Clearly someone is walking down the hall saying “Hello” at every door. Then I hear my name “Barnes”. I almost burst out laughing. I open my door and peer down the dark hall. Then I see three of the guys on the Japanese team. They are walking from door to door trying to find us. They didn’t know what room we were in so they decided to just yell outside each door. It was such a funny sight. They came over to the door and the three of them awkwardly shook our hands and said “Thank you” and “Arigoto” and bowed and handed us two very large pieces of the cake we had given to them. They also handed us two Japanese fans and 2 packs of candies. The excitement on their face was priceless. Through some very broken English we communicated how long we were going to be in Obertilliach and where we were going next. What happened next was the most entertaining. From my encounters with the Japanese team, I’ve come to the realize that in Japanese culture it’s not very nice to turn your back on someone when you are walking away, especially when you’ve just given them a gift. So, the three guys on the Japanese team bow and say thank you one more time and then start to back down the hall, then they bow and smile again, and again, and this continues until they disappear down the hall. I leave the door open to my room and back in just to make sure I didn’t disrespectfully turn my back. A few minutes later, when I suspect they’re long gone, I go and close my door. I sit back down on the couch and open up the book I had been reading before. No sooner did I do this, do I hear a knock on the door. This time there’s a different member of the team. He bows and hands us 2 very large bottles of Coca Cola zero. He thanks us for the cake, rubs his belly and says “very good.” And then smiles and waves and bows and backs down the hall, doing the same routine as the other guys. Finally I turn, close the door and walk into the room, grab my book and there’s another knock at the door. This time it’s two of the women on the team. They say thank you for the cake and hand us a bag full of goodies from Japan. They tell us that the goodies are for making soup. There are some rice noodles, some sauces, and some really strange looking biscuits. This time, instead of doing the routine of backing down the hall they just slowly close the door while smiling, waving and bowing. It’s such a funny sight and I love every bit of it. They are such wonderful people. They’re my favorite team on the World Cup.

In two day’s it’s Christmas. Training will continue through the holidays, which is good because it keeps your mind off the fact that you are so far away from your family. We are very thankful for having the opportunity to compete for our country, but we also promise ourselves that when we are done competing we won’t take for granted a Christmas at home with family. Happy Holidays to everyone. Merry Christmas.