We’re exploring team sports on this episode of Keep the Flame Alive. At Paris 2024, there will be 11 purely team sports: artistic swimming, basketball, basketball 3×3, beach volleyball, football, handball, hockey, rowing, rugby sevens, volleyball, and water polo. Athletes don’t just have to be in top physical shape, they also have to work well with their teammates in order to achieve success. As we read in If Gold Is our Destiny, if players can’t come together and play as a team, they’re going to fall apart.

At the Team USA Media Summit in April, we talked with a number of team players who are ready to make their contribution in order to achieve victory and stand atop the podium, and we bring you those interviews here (links to follow them on Insta):

We also have news from TKFLASTAN and:

Be sure to show your TKFLASTAN pride at Paris! Get your Keep the Flame Alive gear here.

Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!

 


TRANSCRIPT

Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript and may contain errors. Please check its accuracy against the audio. Do not quote from the transcript; use the audio as the record of note.

344-Team USA 2024 Olympians-Team Sports

Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. If you love the games, we are the show for you. Each week we share stories from athletes and people behind the scenes to help you have more fun watching the games. I am your host, Jill Jaracz, joined as always by my lovely co host, Alison Brown.

Alison, hello. How are you?

Alison: I just had a thought. Uh oh. And I’m frantically writing it down on my, uh, post it notes. I have so many post its notes. And it all has to do with Paris. So Paris Organizing Committee, I hope you got sponsored by 3M because if your desks look anything like mine, we’re going through post it notes like water.

Jill: I hear you. There’s paper all over my desk as well. it’s going to be bad. It’s only getting worse. exciting day today because we got team sports we’re talking about.

Alison: And you know what? These team players, we’re really team players doing this. Media Summit. They were just a lot of fun and helped each other.

I totally saw how these team dynamics work.

Jill: Right? And it was nice because we were a team and you really jumped in because on our 3×3 interviews, it was basketball time in the video row and we were basically told, yeah, you’re probably not going to get any time. So I went out, wandered around, got a snack.

Alison: And then suddenly I had. Some very large men sitting, thankfully sitting, at the table with me. So if at the beginning of the 3x you hear me sounding a little flustered, I was. I will reveal unprofessional behavior going, why are these very large men coming at me? And they were so lovely. And I hate to, and I hate to make it sound like they were intimidating.

They weren’t. It was sheer size.

Jill: Right. and the fact that suddenly you had to jump into action.

Alison: And you know what good, it was my test event for fencing media day. I can’t wait to bring the fencing media tape to everybody because it’s just me. You can see how I function without Jill and it’s not.

It’s not always great. So

3×3: Jimmer Fredette, Canyon Barry, Dylan Thomas, Kareem Maddox

Jill: Well, first up we are talking three X three basketball. We have the entire men’s team with us first in our Jimmer Fredette and Canyon Barry, and then we’ll have the other two members of Team USA, Dylan Thomas and Kareem Maddox, the U S men are making their three X three debut at Paris and they rank second internationally.

So going into the tournament, everything’s looking pretty good for them. In our first pair, we have Jimmer Fredette, who was a college basketball star at Brigham Young University and set many records, including most points in a game with 52.

He played in Greece and China and also played with the NBA for portions of six seasons and picked up three X three in 2022. Canyon Berry also played in college and played internationally and professionally with the NBA G League from 2017 to 2022. In 2019, he added 3×3 to his repertoire. Uh, Canyon also has a master’s in nuclear engineering and balances playing ball with his career as a systems engineer.

Then, uh, Dylan Thomas and Kareem Maddox came in. Dylan was part of Florida Southern College’s NCAA Division II championship team in 2015. He played four seasons of international pro ball and then came home for the COVID 19 pandemic. Then he took up 3X3 in 2020. He is also a special education teacher. And then we have Kareem Maddox who played basketball at Princeton and in 2011 won the Ivy League title and made it to round two of the NCAA tournament. He started playing three x three basketball in 2015 and won gold at the Pan Am Games in 2019 and 2023. I believe this whole squad won the gold at Pan Am Games in 2023. And Kareem currently works in basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Take a listen.

 

Alison: Just say your name into the mic for me.

Just say your name into that mic for me. Jimmer

Jimmer Fredette: Fredette.

Alison: Perfect. I’m gonna start with the easy one. Why 3×3 versus full court basketball?

Jimmer Fredette: Well, I’ve played full court basketball for 12 years professionally before this, right? And I just transitioned about a year and a half ago. Um, but the Olympics, right? that’s the goal. That’s the opportunity that, uh, was presented to me a year and a half ago. So to be able to have that as an aspiration, drove me to the sport and, uh, and now.

Uh, it’s been a long journey, longer journey for these guys, but, uh, it’s been, been an awesome, cool experience.

Canyon Barry: I mean, Jimmer hit the nail on the head. From 2019 when I first got the 3×3 pitch from Jay Demings, the director of 3on3 at USA Basketball, it was, you know, you have a chance to be an Olympian. That really means the world to us.

It’s been a long time coming. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears put into it. A lot of airline miles gained. But, uh, so fortunate to finally achieve that dream and be able to compete with these guys in Paris.

Alison: 3×3 was new for Tokyo. So most people don’t know who’s good and who’s not good. Not really fair for the Olympic tournament,

Canyon Barry: but

Alison: what other countries should we be paying attention to besides team USA?

Jimmer Fredette: Yeah. So Serbia is ranked number one in the country or in the world right now. So they’re always really good. They basically helped invent the sport, the way that it’s played. Right. Uh, we’re number two. China’s number three. They have a good team. Latvia was the Olympic champions in 2021. So they’re really good.

A lot of Eastern European, uh, type teams like Lithuania and, uh, Belgium’s good. Netherlands are good. So it’s, it’s funny. You only need four players, right? So any country that puts it together and gets together. people together and decides that they want to be good at it, they can be good at it. So uh, there’s a lot of good competition out there.

Alison: what makes it better than full court?

Canyon Barry: For me? I think that The necessity to be a totally well-rounded player. I think the way five on five is trending, it’s very much a specialized sport where you have your three and D guys, you have your NBA All stars. You have your,

You have your, you know, centers that are running room to room and setting screens, and it’s, it’s very matchup based in the NBA where they try to get a mismatch and then let the best players in the world play. Um, very exciting brand of basketball, but I think three on three is a little more fundamental where everyone on the court has to be able to dribble, pass, shoot, defend, move without the ball, have a high basketball IQ.

So to me, it’s a very pure style of basketball and it’s also very fast paced. So if you don’t have three hours to watch an NBA game, come check out a 20 minute three on three game.

Alison: How cool is it going to be to play right by the Eiffel Tower? Or is that going to be overwhelming and distracting?

Jimmer Fredette: No, I don’t think so.

I, I think, you know, it’ll be amazing, right? I think, I don’t think you’ll notice it because, you know, obviously we’re outside, but there’ll be stands around and there’s a cover, so you won’t be able to see necessarily all your surroundings. You’re kind of just locked in on, on the basket and the people that are in the arena.

When you’re playing, you just don’t really notice all that stuff with all the commotion around, but I know that it’s going to be, Extremely nerve wracking, but exciting at the same time. So, uh, the venue looks amazing, and we’re excited to be able to get there and see it.

Yeah, if Jimmer’s watching the Eiffel Tower instead of making some shots, he’s gonna be hearing it from the rest of us.

So, uh, that would be a big

Canyon Barry: issue. I

Alison: gotta check that out later. Alright, well sorry for the chaos. Of course,

Canyon Barry: no problem.

.

Okay, I can microphone

Jill: Could you, for the tape, can you state your names, please?

Dylan Travis: Yeah, my name is Dylan Travis.

Jill: Okay.

Kareem Maddox: Kareem Maddox.

Jill: Alright. 3 and 3, you got no coach on the sidelines. So, what is it like coaching yourselves? And, Do you know where to give direction? Do you know what I mean?

Dylan Travis: Yeah, I think with us four as a team, uh, no one takes anything personal.

And, yeah, there’s no coach out there, so at times we have to hold each other accountable. But at the day, us four, we just want to win. And, you know, so, we all take coaching, we all give out coaching, and it’s just a good mix.

Kareem Maddox: Yeah, I think, yeah, that’s a big, that’s a big part of it, is not taking things personal.

Cause 10 minute game, right? You gotta, you know, If something’s broken, you gotta fix it really quickly. So, there’s no real time to, like, think about how to be extra nice about something. Sometimes it’s very direct, but, yeah, it’s the right group of guys to do it.

Alison: Speaking of direct, I keep asking TeamSport players about trash talking.

So, I wanna know How is it in 3X3?

Kareem Maddox: You know, honestly, there’s, most of the teams we play against, there’s like, varying levels of English proficiency, right? Right, because in

Alison: Eastern Europe, the, the ball ticks are big, so have you learned some Lithuanian? Lithuanian,

Jill: yeah.

Kareem Maddox: No, I mean, honestly, even now, now, it would go, if we were to trash talk in, in English, like, it would just, it probably, it wouldn’t have the intended effect.

Why even spend time on it? You’re also so out of breath in 3×3 that it’s like, I need to save all that for, for exerting energy.

Alison: It is super fast.

Dylan Travis: Very fast game, yeah. 10 minute game, almost like a shot clock. I played a 21, not once and twos, so it goes by very fast.

Alison: How are you training for that kind of endurance?

Dylan Travis: I just, you know, get in the gym everyday at home, plus the weight room. Uh, but also it’s tough, unless you’re playing 3×3 consistently. Uh, it takes time to get into form, and we have, you know, a whole bunch of tournaments and training camps before the

Kareem Maddox: Yeah, I’ve been on a Search for like seven years for what the best way to train is I think the best way that I found that most replicates the game without actually being on the court is like hit workouts High intensity interval training because you’re you know You’re like lifting a heavy weight for 45 seconds straight and then you’re doing maybe something more like cardio based Big fan of, like, pulling a sled backwards and then pushing it forwards, a heavy sled.

Uh, the sport is so much wrestling that, like, you know, literally you’re wrestling, you’re out there, like, wrestling with guys and a lot gets let go by the officials, so. So, yeah, just, you gotta be creative with how you train for it.

Alison: I do not like HIIT, so I will just say that. Yeah, he’s like, yeah, I really like HIIT training.

No. No. No.

Jill: No, because there’s, like, 3 x 3 questions are in the recesses of my brain. the rule if there’s an overtime? Is there, there’s special overtime rules, right?

Dylan Travis: Yeah, so, if the game goes in overtime, you play to the first of two points. And, so, either a shot beyond the arc, or two inside the arc.

You know, so, uh, there’s no time limit, it’s just the first to score two points.

Jill: That’s right. Cause it, that gets intense and insane, like, how do you quiet yourselves in order to concentrate for that, that bit? You know, you know what I mean? Yeah, you’re just going.

Kareem Maddox: Yeah, yeah. Um, well, there’s a few principles that you kind of just, uh, Are almost like a pretty obvious, like you can’t give up a two pointer because then the game’s over.

Right. So, you know, how do you walk into that and make sure you’re not giving that up? How are you kind of hunting one yourself, but what’s the best strategy in terms of, do you take an easy one because other team is basically giving it, giving it to you because it doesn’t beat them, um, unless you’ve already scored one.

So, yeah, I don’t know if we really quite, I said, there’s oftentimes overtime is what, two possessions, three possessions. So it’s just, it’s just part of the game.

Dylan Travis: You can’t just dream of it. I mean, you’ve already been in war for 10 minutes and it’s like, all right, you got four or five possessions left in you.

It’s like, how hard can you go? And it’s almost a luck thing, too. You know, it’s like, you’re so tired, you know, you just hope a shot drops. Sometimes that’s what happens is a team just kind of throws up a prayer from beyond the arc and it goes in. And that’s how teams win.

Jill: Uh, oh, go ahead.

Alison: I was just going to say the pressure in, 3X3 feels more intense because you are physically close to each other than full court.

And you were saying it’s a lot of wrestling. So what does that actually translate to in terms of, are they grabbing you as you’re shooting? Are they, I mean, I see the jostling, but what’s actually happening that we can’t see?

Dylan Travis: I mean, they definitely let a lot go. Uh, they want the street aspect of it. It’s a streetball game that is now has grown to the Olympics, so it’s definitely more physical than what you see with five on five.

So, you know, you’re driving the lane and kind of get away with those handshakes and the bumps. Um, and sometimes it’s borderline too physical. Where I feel like the game is almost ugly to the viewer. Uh, they’ve done a better job of cleaning that up and calling them more touch files. But, uh, compared to 515, it’s, I mean, you come out, like, beaten and battered at times.

And it’s a physical game, and some people really like that as a viewer. So Yeah. One of those. Yeah, I

Alison: mean, it’s like, like It’s those same people who like hockey fights. Yeah, exactly. Or, like, the old,

Dylan Travis: like, 80’s basketball. Detroit bad boys type of stuff sometimes, you know, where today’s day to day, they call it the little chicken fowl.

Jill: the other fun thing about 3×3 is you’ve got the DJ and the live music element. Do you notice that at all, or do you zero in on what you’re doing? You know what I mean? It

Alison: could be very distracting to have all this other action happening.

Kareem Maddox: Yeah, oddly enough, I feel like I, I personally zone out the music, like not intentionally, or I don’t think it would be, honestly, sometimes I like a little break from the wrestling just to enjoy a nice tune, but you know, yeah, I think you notice it more when you’re watching other, other teams play, but yeah, it’s, it’s not an intentional thing.

You just kind of like, you know, you’re, you only have one language processor, right? So you’re trying to speak the language of basketball and do that and you just can’t.

Alison: Do different countries, have they developed different styles of 3×3 yet? You know, do the Lithuanians play very different than the Spanish?

Dylan Travis: Yeah. You want to answer? Yeah, you can, yeah, go for it. Yeah, so like, Serbia, Lithuania, there’s some countries that are very, they’re full time pros, they get salaried to play 3×3 full time, so because of that, they have their own style of play. Like, Serbians are really good at their screen to rescreen action, and they all, they know all the little gimmicks and angles and slips.

Lithuania, like, to me They’re all six, seven a like rugby or football pla those guys because it’s s you get away with stuff t grueling game. And then l americans that are more w know, stuff like that. So of country based sometime Also have the, the gimmicks to add that with the skill and that makes it really good.

Kareem Maddox: The large, for sure Serbian influence. They have the most players playing and they’ve done it for the longest. And, I think a lot of countries have based their strategies around that way of playing. And, a lot of these countries are, these players and these teams are getting together, practicing all the time and it’s one of those things where, You practice the same way you try to emulate what has worked to this point.

And though, oftentimes it’s a disadvantage that we don’t get to train together as much as these other teams. It also has forced us to be a little bit more creative. And so I think the way that we play is, is a lot different than a lot of other teams, just out of necessity. Um, and there is always room for innovation, but you know, when you’re so in it and you see things that are working.

Changing that feels risky and we don’t, it’s not the same risk for us because we don’t train together all the time. Yeah, unpredictable at times.

Alison: So, what does that look like from now? Cause you were named not long ago, cause I remember hearing Peace on NPR saying, Oh, it’s 3×3 team was named. So how much time do the four of you have together and what’s that look like from now to July?

Kareem Maddox: Yeah, we played together all last year, all last season. And we were named officially in March, but they named the same team that we played last year. So. So we have the opportunity to build on everything we worked on last year, which is a pretty unique opportunity. You know, most times the national team has been a collection of guys from different teams.

And I think this is the first time where they’ve sent a fully intact team. So, I mean, it’s a huge opportunity to build on. What we did last year.

Alison: Excellent. Perfect. Thank you guys. I love how he says, Oh, they’re so big. They’re six, seven. This is him sitting down. How tall are you?

Dylan Travis: Six, two, six, three. But I’m always the shortest on the tour.

So I’m short. Yeah, you are short. Here

Alison: you go. Here you go, sweetie.

Dylan Travis: Here you go. Here’s a tiny violin.

Jill: .

Thank you very much. Thanks, Jess.

Alison: Appreciate it. You’re welcome. That was fun.

Field Hockey: Abby Tamer & Kelsey Bing

Jill: Thank you so much. Uh, next up we have field hockey. We’re talking with Abby Tamer and Kelsey Bing. uh, Abigail Tamer is 20 years old. She is one of the youngest members of the U. S. Women’s National Team.

Alison: No, and I reminded her of that. I love that part of the Chat. So , I, I’m not sure she loved that, but no, she did not.

Jill: she has been part of, the US system since she made the under 16 team in 2018. She will play collegiately at Michigan when, uh, she’s finished with the Olympics and as she scored the game winning gold that helped the US qualify for Paris 2024. Kelsey Bing is the U. S. Women’s National Team goalkeeper.

She’s also been playing hockey since middle school and has been part of the under 21 U. S. Women’s National Team from 2014 to 2017, then hopped over to the development squad and then got elevated to the women’s national team in 2019. Take a listen.

 

Abby Tamer: I’m Abby Tamer. Excellent.

Alison: Okay, we had a conversation with the Polytan people about turf, and I want to know how you’re doing with wet and dry, and are you doing Both depending on where and when you’re competing.

Abby Tamer: Yeah, we only play on wet turf right now. Um, I think they’re trying to switch to a more eco friendly way. Um, I, I don’t know if they’re quite there yet, but we’re, we’re sticking with wet right now, and I think that’s the plan for the Olympics, so.

Jill: Do you know if it’s less wet than wet?

Abby Tamer: I don’t, I think it’s a, it’s a different type of surface than what’s been used in the past, and I think it’s supposed to, uh, help the ball move with left foot.

Less water. So I don’t know that. I don’t know what they’re doing right now for this Olympics, but I think they’re trying to, we

Alison: have an episode to listen to for you. Everybody’s

Jill: got this look like, I don’t, who are these surface people? Talking surfaces. Kelsey

Alison: just Say your name into the microphone for us.

Jill: Hi, I’m Kelsey Bigg. Okay, so then the other question, because this is something you can talk about, talk to us about 3D play, because we don’t understand, like, there used to be, like, ball on the ground, now ball is in the air. How do you make that magic happen?

Abby Tamer: Yeah, um, so specifically with like aerials, where you’re sending it as a pass, there’s a lot of rules around that, and I think, um, they can be a little bit confusing at times, but, um, basically you just have to be in enough space that it’s not dangerous for you to receive the aerial.

But, other than that, um, you can do a little 3D skills on the ground, and that’s just, like, a kind of fun way to add some flair and eliminate defenders, so.

Jill: Wait, eliminate defenders, is that what you mean? Yeah, get past them. That sounds pretty, that sounds hardcore video gaming.

Alison: Has it changed? You’ve been playing a little bit longer, because Abby’s like, in middle school.

Whoa. We’re old ladies. I am, in fact, old enough to be your mother. I have a daughter that’s older than you, so we won’t even discuss that. But yeah, so it has that 3D. Changed.

Kelsey Bing: Yeah. Um, when I started playing, actually field hockey started the self start rule. Um, and so that completely changed the speed of the game to make it a lot faster.

And the aerial rule also changed. It used to not be able to lift your stick above the head. And I think it’s just made field hockey really exciting and dynamic.

Alison: Who else in the tournament should we be paying attention to?

Abby Tamer: I mean, I think everyone, I think everyone there is there for a reason. Um, us specifically, I think we’re trying to prove ourselves we weren’t supposed to qualify and, and.

We want to show everyone that we belong there and we can, we’re going to have a good showing there. Um, that’s what we’re working on right now and that’s what we’re going to bring in the summer.

Alison: Is there a lot of differences regionally in field hockey that you would notice, you know, Europeans play a certain way, North Americans play a certain way?

Kelsey Bing: There’s definitely different styles and flares in different, um, countries. I think what’s so exciting about the sport of hockey is it’s a global sport. Tons of countries play, um, but it is the same sport at the end of the day. It’s just how you include your style in it. It’s

Jill: Okay, I’ve got to go back to this 3D aerial stuff.

The words dynamic and exciting play came out of your mouth. How is that when the ball is coming at your head?

Kelsey Bing: You know, I am a goalkeeper, so I am a little desensitized as opposed to the ball coming at my head, but I’m fully kitted up, so I’ve got a great goalkeeping protective equipment to support me.

Jill: How long does it take to kit up?

Kelsey Bing: Um, you know, I’m not the fastest kidder ever. Um, my head coach isn’t listening to this, um, but yeah, I’d probably like five ish. I don’t know. I won’t look at the clock because it probably would make me upset.

Jill: Then when it’s hot out, how much How much electrolytes do you need?

Cause how much do you sweat and that stuff? Do they, do they breathe? Do those pads breathe?

Kelsey Bing: Yeah, so I’m from Houston, Texas originally. So I am used to the humid, hot, I think that prepared me for the rest of my career. I actually wear long sleeves under my equipment, which people think is crazy. But, um, no, it’s all about staying hydrated.

You learn at a young age growing up in Houston that you need to stay hydrated. So definitely a lot of water and fluids go on board.

Alison: So Abby, you just. You just moved up to senior. How has that transition been for you?

Abby Tamer: It’s been a lot of fun. It’s really cool. Um, the biggest thing that I notice is different is how professional it is at this level.

And I think it, we’re, we’re a really professional team, but we also can have a lot of fun. Um, and that’s something that, like, I’ve always, I’ve always wanted to be taking the sport seriously. And it would bother me when people were just like, not really putting in their 100%. And everyone at practice every day puts in 110%.

So that, that part’s been really fun. Um, And then in regards to like moving down to Charlotte, that’s been a little bit of a difficult transition, but it’s been really rewarding to be able to train with the team each and every day.

Alison: This is going to be the biggest tournament, certainly, that you’ve been involved. How is that prep? Mentally, this has got to be a big, a big shift for you.

Abby Tamer: Yeah, I mean, I think there’s a lot to think about. Like, our roster hasn’t even been named yet, so that’s, we’re always thinking about that.

But, um, I think our, you know At training every day, we’re, like I had mentioned, we want to show everyone what Team USA is and what our team is. Um, and so I think that’s what is in the front of everyone’s head, is we want to be the best that we can be for the team at Paris, not necessarily just for selection.

So I think that’s been a big help, just to have a different, different motivation.

Alison: Field hockey, not the biggest sport in the U. S.

Abby Tamer: It’s a lot of fun. It’s really fast and there’s a lot of opportunity in it. Um, I think the, the percentage of athletes that go on to play in NCAA is a lot higher than in other sports.

Um, so, if you want to go play in college, play field hockey. And I think you’re, there’s, like I said, there’s a lot of opportunity. So, um, growing the sport is only going to be good for everyone.

Kelsey Bing: I think field hockey is a global sport, so there’s a ton of support behind it, but we’ve got a great team culture. It’s our super strength that’s going to lead us into success at the Olympics and what we’re going to rely on. And as Abby said, we are a sort of fun group of girls, so it’s so lucky to have such great teammates.

So, very exciting for

Alison: us. Doesn’t feel good,

Abby Tamer: that’s for sure. You get over it, though. Yeah. He bruises,

Kelsey Bing: but

Alison: This is why I do not do field talk.

Kelsey Bing: That’s why I’m a goalie, you get a few pounds.

Alison: I know, that’s serious. Yeah. And you became a goalie very young.

Kelsey Bing: I was in the 7th grade, so a little bit older than a lot, but definitely younger.

Jill: But that was an opportunity mapping, right? Because, you know,

Kelsey Bing: you could play. Yeah, I’m all about the play time, yeah. So it was a great opportunity. Well,

Alison: thank you ladies very much. They’re waving you on get some lunch.

Jill: Thank you so much, Abby and Kelsey.

Rugby Sevens: Perry Baker

Jill: Now we’re going to the rugby pitch with rugby sevens player, Perry Baker. , Perry was going to follow his older brother and uncle into the NFL and he was even signed by the Philadelphia Eagles, but in. Knee injury ended his football career, but that opened the door for rugby sevens.

He’s been playing that game since 2015 and his speed has contributed to his ability to score. He’s the second highest try scorer in the world. And in 2017 and 2018, he was world rugby player of the year. He was also on team USA’s 2016 and 2020 Olympic squats. Take a listen.

Perry Baker: Yes, my name’s Perry Baker.

Jill: Alright. We understand that you’re nicknamed Speedstick. Is that because you’re fast or because you smell nice?

Perry Baker: Is it because I’m fast or what? Oh, you smell nice. Oh, haha, well thank you. Hahaha. Uh, it’s because I’m fast.

I do smell nice. I do smell nice. Shout out, God rest her soul. Shout out to Grandmama Torci. Grandmama Torci used to always say when I give her a hug, You smell so good, darling. Shout out to Grandmama Torci one time.

Alison: Okay, so you originally played football.

Perry Baker: Yes,

Alison: ma’am. You got hurt. But obviously, you’re still extremely capable.

So was it actually a change to your ability, or a change in how they viewed your ability?

Perry Baker: I’d say probably a change in how they viewed my ability. You know, for one, I come from a small D2 school. And then number two, um, I have been out for a while, you know, so after being out for so long from playing football, it’s like, and then the politics of your age, you’re getting older, you haven’t played, you probably still can’t play.

But I can still play. Uh,

Jill: not at all, to

Perry Baker: be honest. I’m 37, I’ll be 38, and everyone’s wondering why I’m calling it quits soon. But And they telling me to go to 40, so, uh, not at all. And then, like, in the beginning, you know, like, I tried to play rugby when I was a little younger. But I was, like, still wanted to go chase my dream of playing football.

One of the coaches told me, you can come back anytime rugby will be here for you. So, I came back, I was 24. Yeah,

Jill: we, we understand that you enjoy athletes like cereal boxes as well.

Perry Baker: I do. I thought, hey, I thought I’d be me one day on a box of Wheaties.

Jill: Never say never.

Perry Baker: Uh, never say never. I still got a chance to be on a box, but maybe not a box of Wheaties though.

Maybe something else though.

Um, I, I love cereal, period. Like right now I was on like a little cereal, uh, crave of, uh, smacks.

Alison: Oh yeah, we just talked about, we were just talking about those. Yeah. Smacks, yeah.

Perry Baker: Smacks. And then, uh. Okay, so

Jill: one thing I love about rugby besides its speed is the agility. Yup. So what kind of drills do you do to maintain and improve your agility?

Perry Baker: Uh, so you can set up drills to where you have like pads down, and uh, you make moves through the pads, and then use like a start stop drills that I do too. Um, to, and visualize that it’s like, it’s a defender coming out of nowhere, then I stop and go again.

So it’s just a little bit of different stuff. We are here and there.

Alison: In the Olympic tournament, obviously, besides Team USA, who are you interested in being able to watch and who are you worried about?

Perry Baker: When you say worried about them, what happens? As in who you

Alison: have to play.

Perry Baker: Oh, oh, um, I’m really not, okay, I’ll be honest with you.

Um, I am worried about playing France and if we make it to the quarters. I’m worried about playing them in the quarterfinals.

Alison: Why?

Perry Baker: Because it’s their home, their home game. And it’s gonna be packed. Yes, but I’d rather play them in the semis than the quarters.

Jill: Um, have you ever had the Haka done to you?

Perry Baker: No, so, so New Zealand, the way they work is on sevens, they only do the Haka once they win the tournament.

Versus 15, they do it before they play the game. So no, I’ve never had the Haka. But you’ve seen them? Oh yeah, I’ve seen them do it many a time. Many a times.

Jill: What’s it like playing Fiji?

Perry Baker: Oh, it’s cool playing Fiji. I mean, they do a lot of talking during the game. Oh yeah? What’s the trash

Jill: talking in the rugby?

Perry Baker: Oh, I don’t understand a word they say . I just know they, I just know they point at you. They point and they do like the come here jester type deal and like that’s just fuel though. That fuels me. I like it.

Alison: Who else has a good trash talk day?

Perry Baker: They’re like the only team that really trash talk. I mean, you might get a few of the New Zealand boys saying stuff here and there, but they don’t really trash talk.

Um, no team really be trash talking right now besides the Pigeons. I think it’s like a scare tactic, that kind of deal, you know? But, that’s my game, though. I love that. Like, that’s just a fuel to me.

Alison: Okay, so Jill asked about agility. I’ll ask about flexibility. Because that’s also a huge Okay.

Perry Baker: Oh gosh.

Alison: I hear you say that, like, that’s not your favorite thing in the world.

Perry Baker: Not at all. Okay. I only have the worst when it comes to flexibility. And, like, the stories that I get now when I always go in there is like, Your hips are so tight. But it’s like, but it comes with the territory of being fast. But then it’s like certain things I can’t do. So they’re like, we need to loosen your hips.

And then I’m like, I thought stretching wasn’t supposed to hurt. This is hurting me. So, and then the older you get and the tighter you get, and that’s why I have to try and do it so much now. And that’s why I feel like I need to retire now because I feel like I just take too much time trying to warm up to get to go.

And it take me a lot to now recover and stuff. It takes longer.

Alison: See, I, you can’t say it’s me. I’m way older than you and I can still do a split. Oh, stop it. You’re flexible.

Perry Baker: See, I felt like if I didn’t play sports, I might be a little more flexible and stuff. You know, if I didn’t play sports, I just get beat up all the time and everything just started just aching up.

What’s the injuries that you deal with in rugby? Pretty much the same that you deal with in any sports. A little bit of ACL stuff. No, like, nothing really major with the contact part. It’s just Movements, like a lot of ACLs, Achilles, stuff like that. Ear

Jill: pulling?

Perry Baker: Ear pulling? No ear pulling. No, that’s just the rubbing.

So that’s a lot when you’re in the scrummage. That’s why guys get the cauliflower ears. They’re down in between. Your ears are rubbing all the time. And from tackling because you’re taught to put a, what do they say, a cheek to cheek. So it’s like put your cheek to a thigh or a butt cheek kind of deal. So when you’re doing that, your ears are already rubbing.

And that’s how you get the cauliflower ears. So a lot of guys put the tape around the head.

Jill: I’m not sure it would be fun to put your face. I’m not putting my cheek. Yeah, you have to

Perry Baker: because you put it in the front you’re gonna get knocked out like me, you know Because that’s where you go across the front and you’re gonna get a a knee to the cheek Yeah, you see Yeah So it’s just it’s just a common sense just so you realize you’ve got to put it to the soft part Soft part not the hard part you put in the front you’ll get bam knocked

Alison: out.

Okay, the rugby tournament is over very early on Yes Are you going to get to stay?

Perry Baker: Um, it depends. So I always say like, if we medal, I’ll stay because now I get to hang out with other medalists that’s there. If we lose, then I won’t stay. Cause like, you don’t have nothing to talk about. Cause all the talk is they want to know if you won.

If you didn’t win, then the conversation goes on to the next, but if you win, we can talk all day long. You know what I mean? That’s the type of vibe. Yeah,

Jill: it is, but

Perry Baker: everyone’s there for one common goal and that’s to get medals, you know, and to be great in their sport by getting those medals, you know, and it’s like, okay, now I can hang out.

I just now was sitting on a panel. I just felt so like. Gosh, man, I just won a medal. Cause like, when they’re introducing themselves, then they drop in, oh, I’m a silver medalist. And then the next person, I’m a silver medalist. And then the next person, I’m a two time silver medalist. And then they get to us and be like, I’m just a rugby player.

Yeah, it’s like so lame. And so weak. I know, but that’s already, that’s there, you know what I mean? You know, that’s cool that you got to go and stuff and be selected for your sport, but it’s the medals that matters. Like, that’s what people want to see. That’s what people want to know. They’re like, well, how’d you do?

Because they already know you’re going, how’d you do? So you say, I didn’t medal. It’s like, uh, next question, what’s going on now? But if you medal, like, how was it? How, like, how was the podium stand? Like, all this stuff. Like, there’s just so much more that comes with that territory, you know? And it’s like, I can’t wait.

I just can’t wait. I need, by all means, any means necessary, I need a medal. You will put your cheek

Alison: to anybody’s butt cheek to get that medal. Oh,

Perry Baker: you

Alison: better

Perry Baker: believe it to get

Alison: that medal. Oh,

Perry Baker: you better believe it. You better believe it.

Alison: Tape your head, the entire thing around your head.

Perry Baker: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I’m in there.

I’m all in. I’ll tell you by any means. Okay,

Alison: can I?

Perry Baker: You

Alison: cheat it like a

Perry Baker: baby. It’s

Alison: a

Perry Baker: baby. Yeah,

Alison: it’s your security ball.

Jill: Dress it up. Put a little wig on it sometimes.

Alison: Well, thank you so much for stopping by and seeing us. Thank you, ladies. You were amazing. Hope we were a good stop for the end of the day. You was, you

Perry Baker: was. Yeah, great way to end the day.

Jill: Thank you so much, Perry.

Football (Soccer): Emily Sonnett

Jill: And finally, we have a football or soccer player, Emily Sonnett, who’s part of the women’s national team and has been since 2015.

She was part of the 2019 World Cup winning team and the 2020 bronze medal winning Olympic team, and also was on the 2023 U. S. World Cup team. Take a listen.

Can you state your name so we have it on tape?

Emily Sonnett: Emily Sonneth.

Jill: Um, Emily. Soccer players have to go back and forth between international play, pro play, whatever kind of play. What is the difference like going back and forth?

Emily Sonnett: Um, I wouldn’t say there’s much difference. Um, I think in terms of travel and recovery and understanding how um, Your body is in between to stay available is probably the biggest, um, the biggest aspect.

Um, going from a pro environment to the international, um, you obviously have for your respective country, best of the best trying to compete against on the world stage. Um, so I’d say the difference of playing for your country and then playing for your, um, respective club, um, same passion, but in a different aspect,

Alison: are there.

Differences in terms of you don’t get to play together as much and that I mean obviously the women’s team does get to play together Quite often, but then you go off and you play with different people. Yeah, and kind of read constantly rebuilding that team dynamic

Emily Sonnett: Yeah, I think what’s important with our team is This winning mentality and understanding when we do have the time together and that development time together that we don’t lose those steps.

So understanding what have we learned in this week, go back with your pro team, come back, building on that and making sure that we have that foundation and we continue laying the foundation down so there isn’t a catch up period. Um, not being on the team for almost eight, ten years and understanding how, how vital those, Week and a half, two weeks we have together as an international group.

Um, not forgetting what we’ve learned and what we’ve built and then building the next two weeks that we get in the next two weeks until we hit, um, a world tournament,

Alison: the U S is obviously the favorite, who else should we be paying attention to?

Emily Sonnett: You know what’s so interesting? The, the, the Olympics, there’s 12 teams.

It’s so hard to qualify and each team is, is good. So I want to say almost all of them. Um, I think I’d be excited. There’s a lot of really good matchups. I think, um, you know, England, Germany, we just played, um, uh, Japan in our She Believes, um, uh, a week ago. Any of these teams, um, the, they’re gonna be good.

They’re gonna be good competition and create, um, create a really good game environment.

Jill: Thank you so much, Emily. You can follow all of these athletes on Instagram and we will have links to their accounts in the show notes.

Get Your Keep the Flame Alive Merch for Paris!

Alison: So, not too long ago, we talked about getting free, wearing friezes at Paris 2024. We don’t have friezes, but our Tee Public shop does now have hats. Most excellent. Baseball hats, trucker hats, something they refer to as dad hats, perfect for Father’s Day.

All with your favorite Keep the Flame Alive graphics. Some fancy things we have for Paris all emblazoned on there. And let me tell you something. If you are going to Paris 2024, you are going to need a hat. Keep the sun off. Keep the sun off. And they’re really great looking stuff. There’s t shirts. There are, um, all sorts of, uh, office things, you know, notebooks and pens and all your keep the flame alive merch that you would love to have.

Jill: Exactly. And we would love for you to have it because. If you’re going to Paris, we want to be able to spot you easily. We need to be able to spot our choucroustanis. Please be wearing some Keep the Flame Alive merch so we can figure out who you

Alison: are in the crowds. And if you’re not going to Paris, we want to see you wearing this on your So far as we’re making a divot watching all your favorite sports here back home during Paris 24 So all of the merch can be found at our tea public shop

so if you go to our website, flamealivepod. com, scroll all the way to the bottom, there is a link to the store, uh, there.

And we, like Jill said, would love to see what you’ve

TKFLASTAN Update

Alison: Welcome to Shooklastan.

Jill: We don’t have much. in the way of Paris 2024 news. Although we know some stuff is happening over the weekend, so be sure to tune in to Monday Show to look for that. Uh, instead we’re jumping straight to our Schookvlistan update. This is the time of the show where we check in with our team, Keep the Flame Alive.

These are past guests and listeners of the show who make up the citizenship of our very own country, Schookvlistan.

Alison: First up. Kelly Cheng and Sarah Hughes won the Queens of the Court Beach Volleyball Tournament in Hamburg, Germany. This did involve getting a crown and cape. Oh, nice!

Jill: Wheelchair fencer Ellen Geddes has officially qualified for her second Paralympics in women’s foil.

Alison: Erin Jackson has made the 2024 25 long track speed skating national team and Ryan Shane has made the short track national team.

Jill: Equestrian Philip Dutton was not named to the U. S. eventing Olympic squad. We’re not sure, what the story is behind that. But, uh, he did send his congratulations to those who made it, said he was a little envious, but said the team

Alison: is going to do a great job.

And as we mentioned on the last show, the Katie Moon pole vault classic in Olmstead Falls, Ohio, am I saying that correctly will be this weekend. So you can stream that you can go, Jill will be there. So if you are going find her,

I will wear my team, keep the flame alive shirt. And so look for me there.

Jill: And that will do it for this episode. Let us know what you think of the team sports that are going to happen this summer in Paris. Thanks.

Alison: You can find us on X, YouTube and Instagram at flamealivepod. Send us an email at flamealivepod at gmail. com. Call or text us at 208 333 4232. 3 5 2 6 3 4 8 that’s 2 0 8 flame it chat with us and other fans on our Facebook group.

Keep the flame alive podcast and sign up for our weekly newsletter with even more Olympic and Paralympic info for you. You can do that at our website, flame alive, pod. com. On

Jill: Monday, we will be speaking with Paralympic swimming legends, Jessica Long and Mackenzie Cohen, and also with up and comer Olivia chambers.

Please don’t forget to tell a friend about the show. Thank you so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive.