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Ammerman in Africa: Final Update

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Tasha and I with Dorcas, one of the grandmothers from our homestay

What a week!

We finished teaching the health promoter women, and one Maasai man, on Wednesday. They were so inspiring to teach and to watch learn!

Isack, the Maasai man, really fascinated me because Maasai is his first language, Swahili his second, and English his third. While we would teach in English, one of the women of the Nikumbuke Project would translate what was said to Swahili, but it was never translated to Maasai. Then, Isack would answer questions or make a statement and he would say it in English! How impressive. I could not believe it, especially that what he was talking about was consistently a rather complicated health topic and he was able to understand and carry a conversation about it!

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One of the women making Chapati for dinner, which is a a thick flour tortilla


On Thursday, we gave the health promoters their final exam, which they needed to pass in order to become official health promoters for their villages. Each health promoter passed and even a few received a perfect score! It really reiterated to us as a group that what we were doing was truly making a difference and that our teaching had gone extremely well.

Friday was our last official day working with the health promoters. We designated Friday to a Domestic Violence Workshop and shared knowledge about domestic violence in relation to physical health and mental health. Although we were nervous at first to discuss such a taboo topic in Kenya, we were relieved when the women began to open up about their experiences and even Isack was interested in learning ways to begin to put an end to domestic violence in their villages.

It was an emotional day but also an extremely rewarding day. Because the women were able to tell us their personal experiences regarding such a triggering topic, we were able to feel how deeply we have connected with them over the past couple of weeks and the lifelong relationship that has been created.

Our last full day in the Lunga Lunga village was on Saturday. There was a huge celebration for Health by Motorbike and the Nikumbuke Project, with our group as the guests of honor. Women of Lunga Lunga were up all night preparing food for the celebration. The entire night was spent laughing -- for hours straight -- with no care in the world!

The morning of the celebration the Maasai arrived on a red pickup truck, standing in the bed packed up like little sardines, with the radio blasting as they danced the entire way! Over 300 women attended, with seven villages present and two Maasai tribes. Personally, I think the women of these villages should have been the guests of honor due to their aura, eagerness to learn, continual happiness each day and for what they have taught us.

The celebration lasted five hours, four of which consisted of nonstop dancing and singing, no exaggeration!

Each village performed their own song and dance for us as a welcome and performed another to present us with gifts. For these villages to all present us with gifts was truly heartwarming. Each of these villages in Eastern Kenya suffer from extreme poverty, barely earning enough money to feed their families, and here they were smiling, dancing, yelling and giving us gifts to say thank you. It truly represented how big their hearts were and how thankful they were to have us as guests in their homes over the past two weeks.

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The Maasai driving into Lunga Lunga for our celebration day on Saturday


Not only did each village perform, but we performed as a group for them! Although our voices were not as beautiful as theirs, probably more tone deaf than anything, they loved our performance. We did our own dance and song to Party in the USA by Miley Cyrus. (Maybe I will post the video later, but I will give fair warning, you may want to mute the volume to save your ears from our highly untalented voices).

At the end of the celebration, we presented each health promoter with an official UW-Madison diploma to signify their graduation as a health promoter. Needless to say, there were many tears and gratifying feelings. It was such a powerful day, if only I could have captured the happiness, feeling of community and thankfulness to keep it in a jar forever.

We began our long trek back to Nairobi at 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. The bus ride back took nearly 12 hours. We saw a HUGE giraffe in its natural habitat on the side of the road!

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A few of the women huddled up during their review for the final exam, playing Jeopardy


For the next couple of days we will be staying at KICOSHEP again. On Monday we will be going to a baby elephant sanctuary, a giraffe sanctuary and then to a women's group in Nairobi that does beading to make jewelry.

Although this journey is coming to an end, what I have learned from the people of Kenya, especially the women I have had the opportunity to work with, will last forever. I can truly say that I have felt so at peace, in my element and so happy during this entire journey.

The only other time I have truly felt this way is while being on the ice and playing the sport I love. To have found something else to bring that kind of passion to has been life-altering and exciting. My sport has allowed me to feel this passion and this journey has allowed me to learn how to put forth that passion to help others and be the change that I wish to see in the world.

This trip has also taught the effect a single smile can have on a person and their heart. Although we did not speak Swahili very well, we were able to learn how much a smile, the simple touch of a loving hand, or the sound of laughter can impact, not only the people of Kenya, but also ourselves.

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A view from Wasini Island last weekend


I am forever changed from this journey and only wish that more people get the opportunity to experience what I have. In order to see change, we must do much more than believe; we must put forth our faith, passion and knowledge to make the world a better place for all.

Thank you so much for following me during this journey! I hope I was able to share with you what I have experienced and have inspired you to find your passion and change the world through your passion!

Asante sana and hakuna matata rafikis!

Ammerman in Africa: Update Three

Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress!



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Habari rafikis!
 
Sorry it has been a few days since my last post! We have been quite busy in Lunga Lunga!

On Tuesday, we took a motorbike ride to the woodcarvers just across the border towards Tanzania. These men have incredible talent! They stay in their straw mud huts 24/7 carving decorations out of wood. They make everything from little wooden zebras and elephants, to 36-inch tall giraffes, to salad bowls and tongs. You can see every single detail within the carving as well. I cannot wait to show everyone what I bought!

photoOn Wednesday we took a two-hour motorbike ride out to the Maasai. The Maasai are a very traditional Kenyan tribe who continue to isolate themselves and refuse to integrate into the village life. They wear blue, red and purple robes with big jewelry and ear piercings that they make themselves. The Maasai do not speak Swahili, but speak their own language. We were at the Maasai for almost five hours and could not interact with them by talking, because we did not know the language. However, we were able to communicate with smiles, laughter and games. I bought a soccer ball in Mombasa which I brought with me to the Maasai. We played soccer with the kids for hours, gave them candy and sang songs.

While with the Maasai, Dr. Mwangi and the rest of us were able to see 100 patients, most of which had upper respiratory infections, skin diseases and infections, and UTI’s. Around 4 p.m., the Maasai cooked for us. Our late lunch consisted of goat and rice, which you ate with your hands. It was very interesting, to say the least. The Maasai women then presented us with jewelry that they made by hand for each of us. It was a great deal that the Maasai loved us and welcomed us “mzungus” (westerners), into their home and land.

photoOn Friday night we stayed at the homes of the women we are teaching. Although we ate dinner at our camp before leaving for our homestays, the women still insisted upon cooking a feast for us. Tasha and I stayed together at grandmother Dorcas’ house just down the road from Lunga Lunga. She cooked us fish, chicken, potatoes, rice, and chipati. It was amazing!

The grandchildren performed a number of songs and dances for us also. Grandma Dorcas then gave us each a conga skirt as a gift and a thank you for visiting Kenya. She asked us to be her Rafiki and to write from America. Grandma Dorcas kept saying to us “Nikumbuke in America”, which means “Remember me in America”. We may go back and stay another night this week because we loved it so much!

Yesterday, we traveled to Diani Beach to swim in the Indian Ocean. We took the 14 women we are teaching with us to the beach. It was their first time in the ocean and at the beach! There were so many smiles and so much laughter the entire day! We stayed in the water for hours and had an absolute blast.

One of the women said to me, “I am so happy. Today is for me. Not for my husband. Not for my children. Not for my family. Today is for me. Thank you so much”. It truly blessed my heart! To be able to participate in this journey has been amazing and to be able to make so many people smile has been such an amazing feeling and experience.

photoYesterday we had a break in the teaching, educating and sharing of knowledge amongst the women. Our group from Wisconsin took a trip to Wasini Island where we were given a tour of the caves in which slaves were kept in before being shipped to Mombasa during the African Slave Trade. We then toured Wasini Island, which is an island off the coast of Kenya that is inhabited by people, but has no running water, electricity, or farming. We were also able to get American food for lunch at a restaurant in one of the beach towns near Wasini Island. That food was much needed after two weeks of rice, beans, and cabbage at every meal!

We began teaching the women on Thursday. It seems to be going well. On Thursday we taught anatomy, on Friday we taught pregnancy and maternal health, and today (Monday) Tracey and I taught nutrition.

It went extremely well- all the women loved how interactive our nutrition lesson was. After the morning session, the women thanked Tracey and I for being such great teachers and told us multiple times how much they learned from us. They seem very excited to bring the information they have learned about nutrition back to their communities and villages. I think they are most enthusiastic about our lesson because it pertains to something they do every single day, multiple times a day -- cooking.

photoWe are so thrilled that our teaching is going well and we are able to educate these women and also learn from them as we teach!

This last week will be very busy and a bit stressful with all the teaching we must get done, but it is truly amazing to be able to share knowledge with these women and know that we are making a difference. It is hard to write every detail in these posts because so much has happened! But I hope I am able to share a taste of what we are doing here in Kenya and am able to briefly touch on all the activities and experiences we are encountering.
 
Until next time,
Hakuna Matata Rafikis!

Ammerman in Africa: Update Two

Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress!



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Habari!!!
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We have been in the Lunga Lunga community for 3 days now...let the motorbike riding, teaching and working in the health clinic begin!

Our trip from Nairobi to Mombasa to Lunga Lunga took a total of 24 hours. We were on the train from Nairobi to Mombasa overnight from Friday to Saturday for a total of 16 hours! When we awoke on the train Saturday morning, we looked outside the window and the scenery was exactly what one would imagine Africa to look like - absolutely stunning.
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In the morning, the train would make a few stops in villages. When the train would begin to slow down, kids from the villages would run to the tracks and ask for food, candy and money. Some of the children were happy to see us and would enthusiastically wave as we passed through. Once again, they were smiling without a care in the world and with faith shining through their eyes. When we arrived in Mombasa, we were greeted by Bendetta, the woman from Lunga Lunga who has partnered with Professor Araceli to keep Health by Motorbike running. She is an amazing woman - so powerful, loving and inspiring.

We loaded onto a Matatu (AKA a bus) and took a three-hour ride out to Lunga Lunga. The scenery during the ride was breathtaking. We would drive for miles through green landscaping and then would drive through very small villages. Majority of the ride was on a dirt road.

Once in Lunga Lunga, we were able to tour the Nikumbuke Project facilities and see where we would be living for the next two weeks. Here in Lunga Lunga, there is no running water and limited electricity. We shower by pouring a bucket of water on ourselves and go to the bathroom in "squatty potties" which are glorified holes in the ground. It is a very sobering experience, but we are all loving it here and the people we are interacting with.

Yesterday we took our first motorbike ride! It was a 35-minute ride to the village of Goto. The roads we traveled on were barely wide enough for two people to walk on. The women of Goto were so excited to see us that many of them cried.
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Goto is a farming community and is located in a small desert. The women there do the farming while their husbands are three hours away in the city of Mombasa working or with other wives. But the women are so very passionate and eager to learn from us. Because they are such hard workers, they rarely have time to sing and dance. However, when they saw us we had a celebration with soda, bread, and dancing! They pulled me up to dance with them and sang my name. They are a really special group of women and I cannot wait to work with a couple of them this week.

Today we had a lecture on maternal health from a local doctor, Dr. Mwangi. We then toured the medical clinic here. Beginning on Thursday, we will be working in the medical clinic to aid in weighing babies, admitting patients, working in the pharmacy, and observing deliveries! We will also begin our teaching of women's health on Thursday as well.
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This year, there are seven villages involved and two women have been selected from each village to come learn from us and become "health promoters". But before that, we will be visiting the Massai medical camp, which is a motorbike ride that will take two-hours! The Massai are a very traditional tribe in Kenya and can be related to the Amish of the United State. They do not want to change their ways, but are they willing and eager to learn from us.

We are so very excited to touch more hearts and lives, and also make a difference. The women here are teaching us just as much as we are teaching them, through their willingness to learn, their passion, their perseverance and their love.




Hakuna matata rafikis!







 

Ammerman in Africa: Update One

Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress!



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Habari!

We arrived in Nairobi late Tuesday night. Then around midnight Nairobi time, we arrived at the Kibera Community Self Help Program (KICOSHEP). This is where we have been staying for the past few days. We are just outside the slum of Kibera, which is the second largest slum in all of Africa, inhabiting over one million people.
    
At KICOSHEP we have been helping communities cope with HIV/AIDS in prevention and care. Today, a group of women community sex workers came to the KICOSHEP clinic to learn from us and allow us to share our knowledge with them. These women have mostly resorted to sex work to make money to support their families. Luckily, they were very open with us about their hobby and asked many questions while also sharing their own stories. I believe they were so open with us because we were very welcoming towards them and non-judgmental. We were able to teach them about maternal, sexual, and reproductive health, as well as the signs and symptoms of HIV, how HIV is transmitted, and how to most effectively protect themselves from infection of HIV.
    
The women were so happy to learn from us and interact with us. One of the women, Stella, came up to me and said, "I am just so happy that you are here! I will not sleep tonight because of my happiness from you". It is so unbelievably touching to here such remarks from these women as we work with them and attempt to better their lives. I was also wearing a Wisconsin hockey hat and about six of them asked if they could keep my hat as a way to remember me.
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Later in the day we traveled to Kibera to see the slums and see one of the health clinics, as well as KICOSHEP's school within the slum. The walk through was very difficult. There was trash, feces, sewage, and more right outside the small shack-like houses of the people who live there. It is very unsanitary and hard to believe that over one million people live like this every day.
    
But what was so surprising was the level of happiness of the people who we interacted with in the slum. The children are so very happy and excited to see "white" people. I think they loved interacting with us especially because we did not take photos of them. They are not zoo animals, but rather human beings just like us. My only explanation for them being so happy is because they do not know life outside the slum, they do not recognize the rights they have as humans to lead better lives, and they do not realize how much better it can be in terms of health and quality of life.
    
The kids were so cute; whenever they saw us, they would wave and yell "How are youuu??" in a little Swahili accent. Many of them loved to fist bump with me and play with a volleyball. They also loved to read in their school and loved to lie on the floor of the tiny classroom to read and do work. It was nice to see that the KICOSHEP school was clean on the inside and offered a sanctuary of sorts for the children.

It's helpful to know that they are receiving an education and there is hope for their future. It is just a matter of self-will for those children in terms of who goes out of the Kibera slum to pursue their dream of becoming a doctor, accountant, or whatever.
    
We are all still digesting what we witnessed today in the Kibera slum and are mostly speechless. It is hard to put into words everything we witnessed and felt today. It was definitely a sobering experience and allows us all to realize just how privileged and lucky we are to lead the lives we lead. But that is not the reason we went to tour the slum. We went there to provoke thoughts of how to make a healthier life for these people.
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It is important to understand, I believe, that just giving money to these communities will not work. We must invest money, but also develop a community approach and educate the people so they can change their ways of life. I hope in the near future that the slum of Kibera begins to shrink and becomes a healthier place to live
    
I will try to write again in the next couple days, but the Internet is very stubborn here. We are in Kibera and Nairobi until tomorrow night, when we take an 11-hour long train ride east to the Lunga Lunga community to educate women for two weeks. Until next time....Hakuna Matata!

Ammerman in Africa: Africa bound

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Brittany Ammerman
Brittany Ammerman, a junior on the Wisconsin women's hockey team, is taking part in a one-month trip to Kenya, where she will work with a women's health education program called Health by Motorbike. Over the next month, she will send updates to UWBadgers.com about the once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to check back often to follow her progress! Below is her first update as she prepares to leave the United States.



Habari!
 
It is time for me to step out of the ice rink and gym for the next month and take a break from the student-athlete life. On Monday, May 20th, I am traveling to Kenya with a group called Health by Motorbike. Being an aspiring surgeon, and pursuing a double major in biology and women's studies and a minor in global health, I have always had dreams of helping people in developing nations and seeing the world. But I never thought I would have the opportunity to take part in something like this month-long journey I am about to embark on!
 
Health by Motorbike is an organization created by professor Araceli Alonso, a registered nurse and professor of women's studies at Wisconsin. A few years ago, Araceli and her daughter traveled to Kenya to meet a couple of women who they were exchanging letters with via a pen pal program. While in rural Kenya, women of the communities Araceli was visiting expressed their interest and need to learn more about maternal health, childbirth and women's health in general - While there were women in the communities who had delivered babies for years, they still did not know when to cut the umbilical cord!

It was evident that health services and education were out of reach to the women and girls of rural Kenya. With very few health clinics, a lack of health information and limited access to transportation, many preventable diseases were creating enormous health burdens in these communities. Araceli decided to take the initiative to change this. Being that the nearest health clinic to many of these communities was too far away, Araceli created a permanent health post in the Lunga Lunga community, along with a mobile clinic that delivers supplies and medical services via motorbikes. After her first trip to Kenya, Araceli wanted to bring college students to Kenya to train local village health workers and create a sustainable health project in Health by Motorbike.
 
On May 20th, 12 of us, all students at UW who had to apply for a very competitive position as a Health by Motorbike volunteer, will fly to Kenya. For the first four days we will work in the slums of Kibera and learn. We will then take a long train ride to the Lunga Lunga community and begin to work with the women. The women we will be working with are "health promoters" from many different communities. We will share knowledge with them about anatomy, reproduction, maternal health, nutrition, communicable and non-communicable diseases and much more. At the end of our trip, the women will "graduate" and receive a diploma from UW-Madison that officially deems them a "health promoter." They will then go back to their respective communities and teach the women there.
 
What is so great about Health by Motorbike is that we are not simply going to Kenya to "fix" anything and put a Band-Aid on the flaws in the health care, or lack thereof, received there. Instead, we simply teach a few women, who can then teach more women, and eventually we will have touched and educated thousands of women!
 
While in Kenya, I will be blogging about my experiences with Health by Motorbike. I cannot wait to share this life-changing journey with you, while also making more people aware of the change and help that is needed in Kenya.
 
Hakuna Matata!

Four Nations Update: USA wins gold behind Vetter shutout

After losing 3-1 to Canada in the prelims, Team USA used a shutout to claim the gold medal at the 2012 Four Nations Cup in Finland.

Former Wisconsin netminder Jessie Vetter made 26 saves as Canada outshot the U.S. 26-22.

Hilary Knight scored Team USA's second goal while on the power play halfway through the second period. Current Badger Brianna Decker finished the game with one shot on goal.

Bobbi-Jo Slusar recorded one shot on goal for Team Canada.

In all, seven Badgers returned from Finland with medals. Slusar and Meaghan Mikkelson earned silver with Team Canada, and Knight, Decker, Vetter, Meghan Duggan and Alex Rigsby earned gold with Team USA.

(Pekka Rautiainen photo)

Canada vs Sweden Stats  |  USA vs Finland Stats  |  Live Stats for Saturday's Gold Medal Game

It was a big day for the U.S. and Canadian offenses on Friday at the 2012 Four Nations Cup, as the two teams scored a combined 24 goals.

Former Badger Hilary Knight and current senior Brianna Decker both recorded four goals in Team USA's 15-1 win over Finland. Knight scored one goal on the power play, while Decker scored twice with the man advantage and once while shorthanded. Decker ended up being named Player of the Game for the U.S.

Jessie Vetter earned the start for Friday's contest, as all three U.S. goalies played one game each in the prelims. Vetter made nine saves, with the lone against goal coming off a Finnish power play.

Team Canada skated to a 9-0 victory over Sweden to end round-robin play. Defensemen Meaghan Mikkelson and Bobbi-Jo Slusar both finished the game with a +1 plus/minus rating, and Slusar recorded one shot on goal.

The U.S. and Canada will face off against each other for the gold medal on Saturday at 9 a.m. This will mark the 15th time the two sides have played each other for the gold medal at the Four Nations Cup.


Four Nations Update: Canada defeats USA, 3-1

(Suomen Jaakiekkoliitto photo)

The U.S. and Canada faced off against each other on Wednesday in the second day of the 2012 Four Nations Cup in Finland.

The game was part of the preliminary round, in which all four teams face each other and the two with the best records play for the gold medal on Saturday.

Five-of-the -seven Badgers skated in the game, as U.S. goaltenders Jessie Vetter and Alex Rigsby did not play.

However, it was a former Badger that got onto the score sheet first. Hilary Knight tallied the first goal of the game in the second period. Knight netted her first goal of the tournament after crashing the net and putting in a rebound from Kendall Coyne.

Though, that would be the last American goal of the day as Canada scored three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 victory.

For Team USA, both Brianna Decker and Meghan Duggan tallied one shot on goal. For Team Canada, Mikkelson recorded two shots on goal, while Bobbi-Jo Slusar finished with a +1 plus/minus rating.

All four teams will have Thursday off from competition before resuming on Friday. Canada takes on Sweden at 8 a.m. (CT) and the U.S. plays against Finland at 11 a.m. (CT). If the U.S. and Canada both win on Friday, they will meet for the gold medal on Friday at 9 a.m. (CT).

Four Nations Update: Rigsby records shutout for Team USA



It was a big day for Alex Rigsby in the first day of competition at the 2012 Four Nations Cup in Finland.

The junior goaltender made her debut in net for the U.S. Senior Women's National Team, starting against Sweden.

Rigsby made her first game count, recording her first shutout with the team. It also marks the fourth shutout in a row for Rigsby, who entered the tournament with three-consecutive shutouts with the Badgers.

Team USA skated to a 4-0 win over Sweden, outshooting the Swedes 47-9. Senior Brianna Decker netted the fourth goal of the game, marking the first Badger to score a goal at the 2012 Four Nations Cup.

Meghan Duggan recorded two shots in the game and Hilary Knight recorded five.

In the second game of the day, Canada beat Finland by a score of 6-0, outshooting the Fins 38-17.

Meaghan Mikkelson and Bobbi-Jo Slusar both skated for Team Canada, with Mikkelson recording two shots on goal.

The U.S. and Canada will face off against each other tomorrow in the preliminary round at 8 a.m. (CT). The tournament will take a day off before resuming with the final round of prelims on Friday followed by medal games on Saturday.


Two Badgers head off to Finland with Team USA



Team USA Four Nations Home  |  Team Canada Four Nations Home

MADISON, Wis. --
In the middle of the semester, and after sweeping Minnesota State this past weekend, Wisconsin women's hockey team members Brianna Decker and Alex Rigsby packed their bags for Finland.

No, it's not a European getaway for some rest and relaxation.

The two standouts on the women's hockey team took off to play with the U.S. Senior Women's National Team for the 2012 Four Nations Cup, an annual round-robin tournament that features the U.S., Canada, Finland and Sweden.

"It's really cool to be able to think that I'll be leaving for Finland," Rigsby commented after shutting out Minnesota State last Saturday night. "It was kind of stressful leading up to the weekend, having to make up exams and quizzes. I had to be on top of that, because I didn't want to come back and be completely behind."

"I think you just need to have a good balance with school and your sport, and that's what can be one of the most difficult parts," Decker added.

Another challenge the players face is playing for two different teams.

In less than 48 hours after skating at LaBahn Arena, Decker and Rigsby were on the ice with Team USA half a world away. Not only is the level of play different, but the team implements different systems and strategies than those they've been accustomed to all season at Wisconsin.

As a goalie, Rigsby has pointed out one specific difference between the two teams.

"I think the biggest thing with (Team USA) is playing the puck; their system is a little bit different than what we have here (at UW) and I've been trying to work on that this year."

The experience in Finland also stands to be vastly different for the two.
    
The 2012 Four Nations Cup will be the fourth time Decker has suited up in the tournament. For Rigsby, the tournament will be the first time she has skated with the U.S. Senior Women's National Team.

Many wouldn't have doubted Rigsby's skills in years past, but with fewer spots available for goaltenders on any hockey team, she has had to patiently wait for her opportunity to play with the senior team.

Now that chance has come.

"It's pretty exciting to finally get my foot in the door and finally be a part of the national team," Rigsby said.

Growing up playing with Rigsby in youth hockey in the greater-Milwaukee area, Decker has seen the hard work Rigsby has put in to get this opportunity.

"I'm excited to play with her on the national team," Decker remarked. "I think it's well deserved. She's been working her butt off to get to where she's at and she's earned her chance to play with the senior team."

The two both played with the U.S. U-23 team this summer in a three-game series against Canada, where Decker captained the U.S. to a sweep over its northern neighbor. Also the captain of the Badgers this season, Decker will be coming back to the national team with a different perspective.

"I'll take the leadership I've learned both from here at UW and with the U-23 team," Decker said. "There are other leaders and veterans that can step up and they'll lead differently. I can still learn from them and pick up on things, but at the same time I'm going to continue to play hard and play my role."

Rigsby enters the tournament presumably as Team USA's third-string goalie. A status not to be taken lightly as All-American goaltenders Jessie Vetter and Molly Schaus will also be competing for time in net.

"I'm not going to get too worked up if I don't get the start against Canada," Rigsby jested, as she understands and embraces her position with the team.

"I'm taking this as a learning experience and I'm excited to just be a part of the team and being able to put on the jersey for the first time at the senior national team level. I've done it in the past, but never with them, and it's always a great feeling knowing you're representing your country."

Even though it's the fourth tournament for Decker, that excitement of representing her country has never gotten old.

"Getting together with the girls and being able to hang out with them is great. They're the most talented girls in the country and being able to play with them is an honor," Decker commented.

But there is one thing Decker is looking forward more than anything else in Finland.

"Hopefully playing in the championship game and winning a gold medal."

In addition to Decker and Rigsby, five former Badgers will participate in the Four Nation's Cup. Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight and Vetter, will skate for the U.S. squad, while Meaghan Mikkelson and Bobbi-Jo Slusar will skate with Team Canada.

Team USA starts the 2012 Four Nations Cup on Tuesday with a game against Sweden at 8 a.m. (CT). Canada starts on Tuesday as well, playing against Finland at 11 a.m. (CT).


ON WISCONSIN