YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- A USS Lassen (DDG 82) Sailor-athlete tested her fitness and skills May 28-June 9, competing in the International Military Sports Council soccer tournament in Ede, Netherlands.
Sonar Technician (Surface) 3rd Class Maimy Ta and her U.S. teammates competed in Holland, wrapping up the international tournament with an impressive 5th place finish.
"Competition was tough during the tryouts," Ta said. "The coaches set up drills and scrimmages, and as an individual soccer player we had to show our stuff. There was no time for mistakes. If you were not in great physical shape, there was no time for you to try to get into shape."
Ta's road to earning a spot among the U.S. military's elite women's soccer players was far from textbook. As a forward-deployed naval forces Sailor, the demands of operational commitments meant a lot of time underway and dedicated training on her part.
A total of 36 players from all four branches of military service arrived at camp, which took place May 9-26, vying for 18 player slots and two alternate positions. When the dust settled, Ta was one of two selected players from the enlisted ranks and the only representative, enlisted or officer, from the Navy.
While underway, Ta utilized Lassen's fitness facilities to help keep her fit and ready for competition. She logged endless miles on the ship's treadmills to maintain the cardiovascular fitness required for grueling 90-minute soccer games. She also made use of the weight training gear to ensure that her muscular strength didn't deteriorate, specifically concentrating on her abdominal core strength.
While preparation was the key to her success, Ta's biggest obstacle was getting proper touches on the soccer ball before the tryouts started. Hard work during the ship's minimal time in port was the only way to overcome this difficulty.
As luck would have it, this training included a pick-up game during a recent port visit to Nagasaki, Japan as Ta's Lassen soccer team faced off with a squad from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force's (JMSDF) Helicopter Squadron, Lamps 24 (HSL-24) squadron.
While Ta was fit for tryouts and confident of her skills and past experience as a player, she realized that other team hopefuls have played at a high level and were also prepared for their opportunity to make the team.
Ta said the team would have benefited from more time on the practice field.
"There was tons of individual talent," Ta said of the U.S. military squad. "The missing link to winning, was that we all had never played together and couldn't gel as a team," she said, believing the team's level of talent is indicative of more success and commenting that she is looking forward to next year's tournament, which will take place on U.S soil.
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