Amy Tran Ready for Olympics

Amy Tran's comfort zone is taking a summer vacation.

Not because her Olympic hopes are in limbo--as the top field hockey goalkeeper in the United States, Tran was a lock to be named to the 16-woman roster that's competing in the Beijing Olympics.

Rather, it's the intense preparation that's destined to cause a few miserable moments.

"We'll be using heat chambers (at the training facility) to simulate the climate in Beijing," Tran said. "I think it's amazing the wealth of knowledge we have supporting our team.

"We also have a 'sleep doctor' who will help us to adapt to the time change when we travel to Beijing."

Artificial heat? Jet lag? Hey, they're small sacrifices for a big dream. Tran, 27, made her U.S. National Team debut in 2001, and has been a regular on the squad since graduating from North Carolina in '02 after an All-American career. But 2004 was Olympic-less for Tran and the U.S. team.

So imagine the elation when, with Tran in goal, the U.S. clinched its 2008 Olympic invitation in April with a 3-1 victory over Belgium in the World Hockey Olympic Qualfier in Kazan, Russia. It's the first Olympic appearance for U.S. women's field hockey since the 1996 Atlanta games.

As expected, Tran officially was named to the Olympic team in June along with 15 close friends. She's the only goalkeeper on the active roster, though an alternate will be in China with the team.

"The relationships you develop with your teammates are something really special," Tran said. "We run, lift and train as hard as possible for ourselves but also for the teammates who are doing that hard work right beside us. Having a common goal like the Olympics really gives you a special bond."

Tran had a unique introduction to the sport. Growing up in Grantville, Pa., she played soccer with the boys until she was no longer able to. Wanting to play a fall sport, Tran signed up for the only one offered at North Lebanon High--field hockey.

A decade later, Tran is now on the sport's grandest stage--and will forever be recognized as an Olympian. It was a fast progression, but not an uncommon one among Olympic athletes.

"I would encourage any kid to play sports," Tran said. "I would tell them to just enjoy it. Like with anything you do, you have to just have fun and hope for the best."

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