Nearly three months ago, I recall flying home from the Olympic Qualifier in Russia and trying to grasp the fact that I was about to embark on an Olympic Journey. I imagined what it might feel like to walk into the Opening Ceremonies. I tried to envision what the athlete village might look like. But the truth was that I had no idea! That reality seemed so surreal.
One morning, I woke-up and started my normal a.m. routine. I turned on the coffee pot and changed the television to the Today Show. In a moment’s time, it dawned on me! I might get to meet Matt and Meredith. I grew up watching the Today Show every morning with my Mom. Therefore, I knew that during Olympics they broadcast from the hosting city. In a weird way, I associated the Games with the Today Show.
I had since put the idea of meeting the show’s crew in the back of my mind. Until Sunday’s practice when Tiki Barber showed up to hangout. He walked onto the pitch, with the cameramen in toe. Mr. Barber stayed the entire practice, collected balls, and even threw football with the coaching staff while we warmed down. For something that would have seemed so exciting a short while ago, it was all too normal that afternoon. He was soft spoken and blended in like part of the staff.
As we departed on the bus, I remember thinking that it was cool to meet him and unfortunate that I did not have my camera. But, back in the village just minutes later, something more unexpected happened! I met Meredith Vieira in the doorway to my apartment. There she stood just waiting for the elevator as I walked in with my stick bag in hand. I did a double take, and then pinched myself to see if I was dreaming. By the time I woke-up, the elevator door was closing and all I could do was wave good-bye.
As much as I wanted to wait for her to come back down, I restrained myself. I jumped into the shower and joined a few teammates for a little game of wiffle ball in the front lawn.
It was strike 2 with only 1 out, when she walked out the front door and yelled, “I am up next.” I do not think I could pick my jaw off the freshly cut grass as Meredith Vieira swung the bat, hit the ball, and started running the bases in her three inch heals. As she rounded second base, she flung the stilettos off her feet so she could get to home plate without causing an out. It was going to be close, so she dove into home without getting grass stains on her white linen top.
I know that it sounds like I am writing a bad fiction book, but I swear to you that is the truth. Meredith Vieira came to interview an athlete on the sixth floor of my building and stopped to play wiffle ball, have a quick chat, and tell us how proud our country is of the American athletes.
I have always loved the Today Show, but now I have a deeper admiration for the program and the people that NBC hires to be in front of their cameras. If it is not your program of choice, it’s ok. But, on Thursday morning you might want to tune in. Tiki Barber will be interviewing our own Tiki (Kate) Barber. And, our entire team will be on the Today Show, with a special interview with our captain.
From China to the USA, I hope you have a wonderful “Today”
Keli Smith Puzo is a two-time Olympic Field Hockey player, Wife to Inako Puzo, head coach at Miami University, Mother of two young boys and your everyday kind of gal trying to keep it all together.