Catch Up With Caroline Nelson Nichols During Hockey World Cup
NEW YORK – Columbia head field hockey coach Caroline Nelson Nichols continued her involvement with USA Field Hockey last week, leading a training session with the national team's reserves as the U.S. geared up for the 2018 Hockey World Cup in London. The U.S. sits at 0-1-1 in pool play thus far and has an opportunity to advance to the knockout stage if they can defeat India Sunday. Nelson-Nichols, a two-time Olympian and participant in the last World Cup in Holland in 2014, sat down with GoColumbiaLions.com to recap the experience, take a look back at her World Cup journey and talked about the current state of the USWNT. Typically, when the travel squad is announced there are some members of the team that are not selected to that team, but they have to keep those players training just in case of injuries or if they want to make a change to the lineup. Sometimes that will be a player-led session, sometimes they'll invite coaches in to help. I had been doing some work with the U21 team and one of the assistant coaches from the USWNT reached out and asked if I wouldn't mind coming in to help that group maintain their fitness. It's an honor to be asked to work with the national team in any way, shape or form. You're working with some of the best athletes in the world and you get to see what skills they're working on, how they look at the game and what kind of conversations they're having around the training environment. So, it's a great educational environment for me to bring those lessons back to our program at Columbia. It's also an opportunity to stay at the forefront of the game and make sure I continue to push the boundaries on how we challenge our student-athletes. I've been lucky enough to train with many of these players before at various levels, whether it be with the U21 or at different camps along the way. So, it's really amazing to see them live out a dream and play a small part in completing that process. I still feel like I'm very young in my coaching career, so any opportunity I have to learn and grow I'm going to try and take advantage of it. Watching these games brings me back to the experience I had playing in the last World Cup in 2014. Representing my country is something I never took for granted and it's a special moment to wear the red, white and blue. We played in amazing stadiums against the best teams in the world. That team was a really special group that I'm so proud to be a part of. I think we turned a lot of heads with our fourth-place finish. This 2018 U.S. team has a lot of young faces with about 9-10 players that have 50 or fewer caps under their belts. So, on paper the loss to Ireland to open the World Cup wasn't something a lot of people expected, but they showed a lot by earning a draw against a top-five team in the world (England) to stay in the mix. Now, all eyes are going to be on the India match on Sunday to get out of the group stage. Of course, the results in this event matter, but this is a great opportunity to develop as a group and create an identity for the next Olympics.