Can't Stop, Won't Stop

Life is stressful.

I'm not telling anyone anything you don't already know, but it had to be said. For example, I'm writing this post from the food court during a brief break in my six-plus hours of lecture today, in lieu of doing schoolwork that's due by 6:25. But there's a reason for this. Hold that thought.

These last few days have been... well, quite the experience. On Friday morning/afternoon, I worked at my first tennis match for my internship, and then it was off to the library for several hours of thesis research, which took far longer than expected and prompted a wave of mild panic. On Saturday was another tennis match and then a shift at the wellness center. Sunday had me working women's and men's basketball games back-to-back, which meant over eight hours at the BankUnited Center. Yesterday I got to worrying about my thesis again, and did the math to realize that I have to research nearly five Olympics each week through April (46 Games in ten weeks) if I want to have a prayer of finishing on time.

Like I said, life is stressful.

So, today I brought my laptop with me in the hopes of getting some work done in between classes, which would leave some time later to work on my thesis (I'll most definitely need it; the 1900 Paris Olympics were a hot mess). But when I sat down and opened my computer, I checked my email and found this:
Dear Darci, 
Thank you for your readiness to contribute to the XXII Olympic Winter Games and the XI Paralympic Games in Sochi as a volunteer. It is these volunteers who will be the main driving force behind the Games, creating the unique atmosphere of hospitality Russia is preparing to show millions of guests. 
Knowledge of the English language is one of the key components of our success and, because of this, one of the steps to becoming a volunteer is a test of your knowledge of English. 
The aim of this test is to determine your current level of English, to help us plan future training, and to decide the most suitable position for each volunteer candidate. The test will be online. As soon as you receive the link for the test, click on it and follow the online instructions. 
The test consists of four parts (grammar, listening, reading and writing). The exact questions asked will depend on your answers, no one test will be the same. It will take, on average, 40 minutes to complete. We recommend answering questions in the order they come, as it is not possible to go back later. 
It is recommended to take the test in Internet Explorer browser.  
More information about the structure of the test, and tips on how to complete it, can be found on the volunteer portal (My events tab).  
Please follow the link and complete the test during the week. Please register with the same e-mail you use in Sochi 2014 volunteer application form. When you have completed this test, we will let you know what the next step is. 
The Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee
So, naturally, my time today will have to be reallocated! :)

However, that email in itself didn't inspire this post. Another one did, this one from "The Universe." There's a website,, where you can sign up to receive notes from The Universe. They're all inspirational stuff, which is great for when you're feeling unmotivated, stressed or generally blah about life. Sometimes they end up being creepily appropriate for my current situation, but I don't think they've ever been more so than this one:
You're going to miss the slow times and quiet days, Darci. Your anonymity, stealth, and small circle of friends. Plodding along at your own pace, working in spurts, and wondering where your next break will come from. Even your uncertainties, doubts, and fears will be missed.  
It just works like that once massive dreams start coming true.  
You'll manage just fine,    The Universe
 It gave me goosebumps. Because right now, I have zero slow times and quiet days, I have no idea when my next break will come, and I'm more uncertain, doubtful and afraid than I've probably ever been in my life. But I adore my internship and am chomping at the bit to get my thesis going, so I feel like it all has a purpose, like it's all bringing me where I want to end up. Getting this email right on the heels of the next steps to become a Sochi 2014 volunteer felt suspiciously like karma.

Look out, world. I'm coming for you.

Favorites Friday: Jim Craig

Welcome to the new series I'm starting here, folks! My plan is to dedicate Fridays to my Olympic favorites; athletes, moments, logos, whatever. I can't promise a post every Friday (because let's be real), but that's what I'm going to shoot for. Dream big, right? And hey, I do rather enjoy talking about things I love, so I'm sure I won't have to twist my own arm into blogging regularly.

So, onwards!

There really isn't a better place to start my list of favorites than with Jim Craig. (I know, I've been on a serious Miracle kick lately. Sshh. Just go with it.)

Prior to reading The Boys of Winter, all I really knew about him was that he was the goalie of the most well-known hockey team ever, and that his on-screen counterpart was Eddie Cahill, who is extremely attractive. I, however, am not one to like an athlete (or anyone, really) just because he's attractive (or, in this case, the guy portraying him is attractive). There has to be a good human being in there for me to care. So I liked him and all, but was pretty ambivalent about it.

Jim Craig and Herb Brooks.
(Eddie Cahill might have some competition...)
But this was one of those cases in which the more I learned about him, the more I grew to love him. Seriously. I'm still waiting for something to make me like him less, but I'm now a movie, a documentary, two books and at least a dozen articles in and it hasn't happened yet. It's a bit of a situation.

I think all that really needs to be said about him is that he would write a note to his mom before he went to school every morning that said, "Have a great day, mom, I love you." And that, when his mom got really sick during his first year at Boston University, he took the T to visit her in the hospital almost every night after practice. And that, "[d]uring the pre-Olympic tour, the players moved into apartments together in the Twin Cities area; Craig lived in the basement of Doc Nagobads’ house. It not only spared him from paying rent and left him more money to send home each month, but it was the homier, family environment he preferred. Craig missed him mother profoundly and became especially fond of Velma Nagobads, Doc’s wife. He was much more inclined to spend time at the kitchen table with the Nagobadses than to go out with the guys." And, of course, there's the iconic image of him on the ice at the Olympics, clutching the American flag, eyes scanning the crowd, asking, "Where's my father?"

Do you want to hug him, or is it just me? Because I really, really want to hug him.

He was also apparently a bit of a loner, very self sufficient, and not overly chummy with most of the guys on the team because it just wasn't his priority. However, "If you were Jim’s friend, he absolutely could not do enough for you or say enough to make you feel good.” I think we would've been best friends if he wasn't 22, oh, eleven years before I was born. Sigh.

I hear he lives in St. Petersburg, FL now, though. He sounds like the kind of guy that would want to come to a University of Miami men's ice hockey game, right?

Hey, a girl can dream!

The Boys of Winter

Is it just me, or does anyone else own movies and rarely watch them, but freak out in excitement and glue yourself to the couch if they're on TV?

That's what happened to me early in my holiday break. One night I stumbled across Miracle airing on AMC. It was almost halfway through, but I hadn't seen it probably in years and I LOVE it, so I settled in for the night. It aired again the next three nights in a row, and I watched parts of it each time. And each time, I got goosebumps when Mike Eruzione yelled, "I play for the United States of America!," cried when Ralph Cox got cut, and found myself nervous, sweaty and on the edge of my seat during the game against the Soviets.

This is a big part of the reason why I can't watch Miracle too often; it requires a certain mindset. It's not just a mindless movie I can pop in at any time. It's a pretty emotional process. But watching it reminded me how utterly obsessed with it I am, which spawned my current quest to learn as much about the 1980 US hockey team as possible. So I hit Amazon and ordered The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey. It's a book written by the co-author of RA Dickey's autobiography, about America's greatest Olympic moment ever. How bad could it be?

Not bad at all. In fact, pretty spectacular.

When you watch the movie, you kind of forget that there are 20+ guys on the team, because we only really meet Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, Jack O'Callahan, Rob McClanahan, and Ralph Cox. All other names are mentioned in passing, faces shown in montages. You don't pay attention to "Mark Pavelich, UMD Bulldogs," or "Knocked away by Morrow!" But in this book, each player gets the focus. It might just be a paragraph, or it might be an entire chapter (only Jim Craig was bestowed that honor), but suddenly all those background boys became real people.

Buzz Schneider was the only guy on the 1980 team that was also on the 1976 team, and very well could've been voted team captain over Eruzione. Mark Wells was sent down and spent months playing in the minors before being called back up to the team only days before the games. Bah Harrington kept a little spiral notebook where he recorded all of Herb Brooks's sayings. Steve Janaszak was the only hockey player in Lake Placid to not play a single minute in a game. Mark Pavelich accidentally shot and killed his best friend when they were out hunting together. Jack O'Callahan was accepted to Harvard but chose to go to Boston University because he thought it gave him a better chance to win a national championship. Mike Eruzione was very nearly cut from the team in January before the Olympics.

What's also really cool is watching Miracle and being able to notice character traits that I hadn't before. When they're all at the bar doing their psychology tests, Phil Verchota finishes first; he was a decorated student. The first shot of Rob McClanahan is of him meticulously taping his stick, then unraveling it and doing it again; the guys on the team apparently teased him about "the fastidious manner in which he prepared his sticks." When Herb calls the Conehead line into his office, Buzz and Bah chat away while all Mark Pavelich says is, "Yeah. Pass, shoot and score"; he was extremely introverted and quiet, even around his closest friends. We almost never see Jim Craig interacting with the team in a chummy sort of way; making friends wasn't his priority, and he was very self-sufficient and a bit of a loner.

Unfortunately, though, I now also know which aspects of the movie are nothing but Hollywood. I won't ruin the illusion for you (because a lot of it is massively disappointing), but I will say this: would it have killed them to tell the guy playing Ken Morrow to grow a beard?

All in all, it's a really fantastic read. It blends the boys' stories in with play-by-play from the Soviet game and includes some really cool insights into the Lake Placid Games. I highly recommend it if you're interested in learning more about the individual people that made up the most famous team in American sports history!

The Sochi Struggle Continues

Sochi Olympic venues
I'm slowly beginning to come to terms with the fact that my dreams are not real dreams if they don't have setbacks.

In my quest to find a way to get myself to RIOU (click for the last post I wrote about it), I found a foundation that's offering 20 full scholarships to students in the school's first class. I figured that was my in! I was all set to prepare my application to the school so I could get my acceptance and apply for the scholarship before its March deadline, until I realized that the school application asks for a copy of your undergraduate diploma. I won't have that until May.

So I emailed the school, telling them about my situation, and I got a response: I need my diploma to apply. No exceptions. I sulked for a few days and then tried again, asking if I could send my transcript, a letter from the university, or some other proof that I'm going to graduate. Today, I got their response: I need my diploma to apply. No exceptions.

Fan-freaking-tastic. >.< Back to square one and the prospect of some ridiculous loans.

Sochi, Russia
But you know what? I was an exception in the two coolest things I've ever done in my life. The summer I was on Endurance, I went to sleep-away camp for a month before the show, which meant I wouldn't be home to get all the necessary information or sign forms and such. But Mark and Patrick let that slide. My mom would print everything out and send it to me, I would do whatever I had to do and send it back, and she would get it to the producers for me. When it came to London 2012 Ceremonies, everyone involved needed to have a UK visa that was good until November, otherwise you weren't supposed to be allowed to work or perform. Mine expired in June. But somehow I was processed through the system anyway -- maybe because the volunteer coordinator was American too, or maybe it was just a mistake -- and I volunteered with them until the day before I had to leave the country.

In both cases, I probably shouldn't have been able to do what I did. But it happened anyway. I think that bodes well for my chances with RIOU.

And if it doesn't? As soon as I got their first response, I went right over to and registered to be a volunteer during the Games. I am going to Russia. Whether or not RIOU wants me there for their program is entirely up to them!

Olympic Things To Look Forward To In 2013

Like I said at the end of my previous post, 2013 is not an Olympic year, and that makes me sad. But then I decided that just wouldn't do! I mean, being sad for an entire year? NOPE! And besides, there are plenty of Olympics things happening in 2013 to get excited about. Here's my list!

1. One year until Sochi 2014: February 7th, 2013.

While, on one hand, Sochi feels like a lifetime away, putting things into perspective is the fact that this countdown was once in quadruple digits. That, my friends, was truly disgusting. So suddenly 365 days sounds like nothing! With the way time is just speeding by, just blink and it'll be here! YAY!

2. 33rd anniversary of the miracle on ice: February 22nd, 2013.

Because we should absolutely be celebrating random anniversaries of this country's greatest Olympic moment ever. If nothing else, it's a great excuse to watch Miracle (psh, as if you need an excuse!).

3. 2020 host city announcement: September 7th, 2013.

Jeez, can you believe we're already thinking ahead to the games in 2020?! Man. I remember when London was selected to host the 2012 games, back in 2005. I went to a NYC 2012 host city support rally on my birthday that year, when I turned FOURTEEN, and I went to London 2012 at age 21. That's literally a third of my lifetime. OH MY GOD! And now we're getting ready to start another one of these massive journeys. Are you ready? I remember where I was when I found out that Rio had won back in 2009, and I watched the announcement of PyeongChang won in 2011. So the battle between Madrid, Tokyo and Istanbul should be another one to file away in the memory bank.

4. Opening and Closing Ceremony rumors: summer 2013?

Are you as excited about this as I am? I mean, I don't want to be completely spoiled so I'll be steering clear of leaks. But for London 2012, those didn't start until rehearsals began in earnest out at Dagenham, and that wasn't until June-ish. There were times while I was a volunteer where my friends would be saying, "OMG so-and-so is apparently definitely performing at closing! Has anyone at Ceremonies told you?!" And I'd go into work and find out that claim was completely unsubstantiated. So in the early stages, rumors are, more often than not, just rumors. Watch out for REAL spoilers starting around November, but rumors should start trickling in during the spring or summer!

5. Official team selections: all year.

While all sports and athletes come together for the Olympics into one team, for the rest of the time they're separate entities with all sorts of World Cup events and team tryouts to pick the best of the best to represent America in Sochi. Some sports like biathlon (the more individual events) don't pick their Olympians until the 2013/2014 competition season, but sports with teams that need to practice together before the Olympics are chosen far earlier. Fun fact: the final hockey teams are named in August.

6. Apolo Ohno's Olympic decision: hopefully sometime before I die.

Okay, guys. This decision has to happen eventually. Apolo has been completely mum on whether or not he's going to compete in Sochi or not since he stepped off the ice in Vancouver. In August he said he's 50/50 about a comeback, and in November he said he'd need three months to just train and a year on the ice if he wanted to return for the Olympics. He regularly Instagrams photos of himself in the gym, but it also sounds like he's indulging in lots of R&R, which ain't his M.O. when he's seriously training. Either way, USA short track Olympic team trials are in September, and then the world cup season begins. We'll definitely know then!

And then, when 2013 ends, Sochi is right around the corner in February. See? 2013 won't be such a drought at all!