Individual fundamental skills and improved physical strength are off-season goals for most college athletes.
But this past month, Hilbert College’s Harlie Decker was focused on representing the USA women’s lacrosse program as she was exposed to different cultures and international competition when she traveled to Europe for 10 days. Decker was nominated for this team by Erin Robson, the head coach for the Hilbert College women’s lacrosse program the last two seasons.
Decker joined her two USA coaches and fifteen other Division II and III collegiate athletes at JFK Airport before they flew to Berlin, Germany on June 20th. Upon their arrival in Berlin, the USA squad’s schedule allowed two days of sightseeing before they played their first game against Germany the second evening. Decker and her teammates shutout Germany winning 22-0 and were pumped for the rest of their games.
The team took a train to Prague in the Czech Republic and prepared for their longest tournament schedule. The three-day agenda was Decker’s favorite because Prague was such a beautiful place to visit and the games they played were very competitive.
On day one, USA beat a Czech Republic team, comprised of older, more experienced players, 10-7, before they easily defeated the Czech Republic’s U19 National team, 11-3. On the second day of the tournament, USA lost two games, both by one goal, to a team from Great Britain and yet another Czech Republic team. Even with the losses, USA sill held a first seed in their group of play.
Oddly though, when their final day of competition arrived, the USA team was now playing for 3rd place. Decker and her teammates held on for a 9-8 victory and were able to return to the states with an overall 4-2 record and a 3rd place trophy.
Decker felt this opportunity was ‘hands down’ the best time of her life. “It was such an honor to wear a jersey that read USA on the front,” said Decker as she prepares for the start of her junior year at Hilbert College.
Decker hopes the same opportunities are available again next summer, but she also understands that she might have experienced a trip of a lifetime.