Can't hardly wait: the trek to Guadalajara

U.S. field hockey midfielder Rachel Dawson, a 2008 Olympian, is blogging about her team's Pan Am Games experience for espnW. In her latest installment, Dawson recounts the bonding experience that was the trip to Guadalajara. One word: Adele.

On your mark, get set…. Wait…Longer… Longer. Just a little…longer.

Ok. Now. GO.

Praise the Pan American gods we didn't have to keep holding our collective breath like patient athletes-in-waiting. Departure day was upon us.

We woke early, packed the vans, and hit the road for a double destination trip. First, Houston for a night to be kitted out by the USOC in proper Team USA apparel, some dapper Nike kicks, a couple of tops, a mean throwback zip-up hoodie, and of course, the requisite khakis and navy polo.

Then, onto Guadalajara, Mexico.

Excitement was high. Even the ungodly early morning hour couldn't tame our giddy chatter. We were like a bunch of kids on Christmas morning. Adele played on the radio. We sang. Loud. We got stuck in Southern California traffic. Adele played again. We sang. Even louder.

USA Field Hockey

Rachel Dawson, a 2008 Olympian, will be one of the leaders of the American team at Pan Ams. The U.S. hopes to upset Argentina and claim a 2012 Olympic berth.

Jersey girl Michelle "Shelby" Cesan, one of the Princeton quartet who took the year off from school to pursue "the dream," swaggishly informed us of Adele's intention -- "she wants to get back at her ex-man; she's saying, 'Hey baby, look what you're missing now.'" The rowdy van cackled up a storm.

It was only after we claimed our section in the back of the plane that we politely settled down. Some read, some 'Scrambled' (the new team iPhone word game competition), some watched movies, while the rest, pardon the redundancy, rested.

We landed in Houston and immediately went into work mode, doing what we do best (besides hockey of course) -- unloading and loading our unreasonably large amount of "stuff." I swear, post hockey-career, we have a future in the moving (unfortunately, not movie) industry. Our motivation for the effort was simple: food. The quicker we packed, the quicker we could appease the growing growl in our bellies.

That growl was morphed to laughter when Jesse Gey, who was called up to replace the injured Kayla Bashore Smedley last week, read excerpts from Ellen DeGeneres' new book, "Seriously, I'm Kidding." No seriously, it's funny, LOL funny.

Finally, we grabbed grub, went through processing, posed for our Pan Am portrait then shacked up in our rooms for a comfy night in the Houston Hilton, where all nestled and snug in our beds, dreams of field hockey fairies and Mexican oro danced in our heads.

The alarm chime came too early on Friday morning, but we awoke giddy yet again, and clad ourselves head to toe in all-American navy blue. With our Team USA compatriots from men's field hockey (yes, the U.S. has a men's team), we set sail (through the air) for that land south of the border. Destination, Guadaljara, Mexico. Journey to the 2011 Pan American Games.

Upon arrival in Guadalajara, our flight attendant with lasting words of inspiration -- "Just go out there, and give it your bestest."

The U.S. opens play on Wednesday versus Mexico.

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