PITTSBURGH - WPXI.com's Carly Noel talked to Olympian Lauren Crandall, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, before she heads to London.
The field hockey midfielder was a student in the North Allegheny School District until the age of 13.
Lauren lives in Doylestown, Pa., but visits Pittsburgh and her friends here.
"I always say Pittsburgh is where my heart is. It is the only way I can explain why I am such a crazy Steelers fan," said Lauren.
Q&A with Lauren:
Q. How are you feeling about going to London for the Olympics?
A. I am so excited to be competing in my second Olympic Games. Let's just say the excitement or immensity of selection does not fade the second time around. We have a great team and staff, and we are looking to make an impact at these London Games.
Q. Will your family and friends be going to London to support you?
A. Yes! I am so happy that my entire family and some friends will get to enjoy the Olympics! My parents, brother, two sisters, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, soon to be brother-in-law, grandma and eight or so of my friends are all booked to go! I feel very fortunate to have such support in London!
Q. How do you think the United States will do in field hockey at the Olympics?
A. Our 2008 team was disappointed with an eighth place finish in the Beijing games. I feel like we have unfinished business at the games, and I plan keep that in mind while in London. I think this team, with our mix of veterans and young talent, has something to show the world. We are entering the games as tenth in the world but have high expectations for ourselves. Our goal is to be standing on the podium. To do that, we have some steps to take as a group before we head over to London, but I feel very good at where we are at in our preparation.
Q. You went to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. What was that experience like?
A. I'm going to go ahead and say there is nothing like experiencing the Olympics. Being part of something that is so much bigger than yourself and your sport, and even your country, is such an incredible feeling. Beijing was a great host country and had many beautiful sites to see.
Q. What lessons from Beijing will you take with you to London?
A. I think the overall experience is such a valuable tool. You can prepare mentally, physically and emotionally for all situations, but until you have been to the Olympics, it is difficult to foresee all of the different distractions and stresses that the games can have on an athlete. Also, a big part of our eight place finish was tying three games in pool play. From that I have realized that every goal counts. Every play, every pass, every missed opportunity could be the difference between standing on the podium and clapping for those who are standing on it.
Q. What is training like for the Olympics?
A. It is a process to be enjoyed. Many people do not realize that we train all year round, every year. Of course, there are longer breaks depending on when our big tournaments are, but essentially, we have been training for the Olympics since the Beijing games ended. As far as a weekly schedule goes, we spend about 15 hours a week on the field practicing, four hours in the weight room, four hours of conditioning on and off the field, a few hours watching video and many hours in between taking care of our bodies and doing rehab so we can do it all again the next week. Usually, I leave my house around 7 a.m. and do not return home from the Olympic Training Center until 4 or 5 p.m.
Q. What would it mean to you to win a gold medal?
A. I don't even think I can put into words what that feeling would be like, which is all the more reason to make it happen! In some way, it would be a validation of all the hard work and sacrifices my teammates and I have made over the years we have been playing the game. It would also be great to share that excitement and pride with everyone who has been a part of my journey since my young days as an athlete.
Q. Who inspired you most to be an Olympic athlete?
A. There isn't one person in particular who inspired me to want to be an Olympic athlete. In fact, it was never a dream of mine oddly enough. I think my coaches and support group of family and friends throughout my career have continually fueled my passion and drive for the game. I draw a lot of inspiration from them as well as my past teammates.
Q. Are you superstitious? Is there anything you do before each game?
A. I'm actually quite boring with superstitions. I do not believe in them. I believe in myself and my teammates as the factors that produce a win or loss and not external factors that I can not control. However, I do take a moment during our national anthem, at the same part each time, to recite something to myself that brings me back to why I am here and who I am representing.
Q. You and your family now live in Doylestown, Pa., but you grew up in the Pittsburgh area. What kinds of fond memories do you have living in the area and going to North Allegheny?
A. For sure my memories of North Allegheny jump right to my brothers basketball games. I remember so much about sitting in that gym, watching the team and of course my brother. The team entered in a single-file line through the far door by the benches as the song, "Welcome to the Jungle" blared over the speakers. I remember certain games and even specific players that they played against. I also remember being the ball girl at my sister's NA soccer games in the football stadium. I was not very good at that job. I mostly just had a juggling competition with myself and forgot I was supposed to be providing and fetching soccer balls.
Q. When you’re not playing field hockey, what do you like to do for fun?
A. I love to bake. I make all of the birthday cakes for my teammates, and I have even done four of my teammates' wedding cakes. I have always loved the balance of exactness and creativity that baking allows. It is actually my go-to stress reliever when I just need to get away from everything. Of course, my favorite part is eating the final product.