Thursday, April 26, 2012

TOUR De Cure

Last weekend I had the privileged of riding in the Tour De Cure San Diego as a part of the team "Mile 23".  This ride is to support the America Diabetes Association.  As I am sure you are all aware diabetes is a part of my life these days and because of it I have met some amazing people.  Last Saturday was no different I rode in the 30 miler and Brennan rode in the century (100 miles). 

As a part of "Mile 23" I got to ride with my little friend Ryan.  Ryan is a part of Insulindependence (the non-profit Brennan works for & I am a part of the local committee). I swim with Ryan once a week as he is working on getting into the sport of triathlon. We also rode with two other individuals that Ryan knew.  All in our group were Type 1 diabetics AKA "Red Riders" except me. The four of us had a great time out on the route.
(Our group before heading out)

With Ryan before the race- notice my Insulindependence kit!!

The route was similar to routes that I have ridden before with Brennan. It was a fun day and exciting to be a part of something bigger.  For Ryan it was his first time ever riding on the road.  Needless to say that made me a bit nervous.  Ryan is only 13 years old which makes things a bit tricky to be a new rider that has no time behind the wheel.  However even with the nerves our group did a great job and had no issues. Well except for the fact that I actually feel at one point. I unclipped and then went to still make it up the little hill and my shoe clipped back in. I could not get unclipped in time and down I went.  Thankfully not even a scratch.
(Out on the road)

The ride was great.  We held over 13 miles an hour for the 30 miles.  I can tell my training is really paying off because I was able to climb with no issues.  Once in a while I ended up leaving our little group by pushing the pace for myself.  It was great to be able to get up and go fast, with it not really hurting like it used to. I am excited to ride this weekend to see how hard I can go and for how long.  My next race is in just over 2 weeks and that is only 24 miles.  So this 30 miler was a great little warm up.  Especially because I still get nervous around big groups of riders.

Once we crossed the finish line I waited a bit of time to see Brennan finish his century ride.  Like always he did it and got back looking like he had done little more than ride through the parking lot.  I think his training is coming along great for his Ironman in November. In all we both had a great day out riding- as well as being a part of a great cause!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Article on Mikayla

Sooo proud of my little sister.. Thought she deserved a little blog post for it!!! Below is an article that ran in the Press Enterprise!! Way to go KK!!

Redlands East Valley's Mikayla Vessey has bee a star in the pool, swimming and water polo, for years but now she's also excelling on the track and field team.

REDLANDS — Everyone around her at Redlands East Valley High already knew Mikayla Vessey was an incredible force in the water.

All-CIF water polo player for two straight years, leading the Wildcats to the semifinals both times. CIF qualifier in swimming a year ago and on pace to qualify in two more events this year.
But who would have guessed Vessey could be just as dangerous on land?

Well, a school security guard who watched the 5-foot-1 blonde running 40-yard sprints one day during a football weight training class. It’s the third year in the class for Vessey, who says, “I’m just pushing myself to be the best athlete I can be.”

The security guard was impressed enough to tell Vessey she should try out for the track team. Sort of in her spare time while not swimming, going to club practices and maintaining honor-roll status as a junior student.

“It was really random,” Vessey said. “I thought why not, I’ll go talk to the track coach and see what she thinks.”

REV track and field coach Andrea Johnson-Bernardy was fine with the idea, as long as it didn’t interfere with what else Vessey had going on.

“I think she was excited that somebody noticed her as more than a swimmer,” Johnson-Bernardy said. “I said let’s just try it and have fun.”

Wildcats swimming coach Troy Delmonico, who had helped coach Mikayla’s older sisters Brooke and Jamie at Redlands High last decade as they achieved swimming and water polo stardom before heading off to San Diego State, hesitated.

Not many athletes try to play two sports that are going on at the same time.

“You sure you want to print that?” Delmonico said, laughing when asked about his initital reaction when Vessey came to him with the idea.

But after reaching a deal that Vessey would get her swimming workouts in no matter what was going on with track, Delmonico began working with Johnson-Bernardy on a schedule to make it happen.

It makes for a hectic schedule, but now Vessey is not only REV’s swimming star with a school record in the 100-yard freestyle, she’s also the fastest 100-meter sprinter on the track team.

“You’re saying, ‘I know she’s a quality swimmer,’” Johnson-Bernardy said. “I knew her 40 time was pretty good, but you don’t really expect it. Then you see her race and you say, wow, she’s pretty fast.”
Delmonico said he’s most impressed with Vessey’s work ethic.

“She’s one of the hardest-working athletes I’ve ever come in contact with,” Delmonico said. “She goes to track practice, then comes over and gets in the pool. That was our agreement.

“How many high school girls are that committed, not just to one sport, but both? She’s not your typical high school athlete.”

The best part for Vessey is that with Citrus Belt League swimming meets on Wednesday and track meets on Thursday, she doesn’t have to miss competing in either.

“I definitely didn’t know what to expect, but it’s working out so far,” said Vessey, favoring a tender ankle but determined to ignore it, as well as fears she might injure herself while trying to do too much.

“I could hurt my shoulder swimming,” she said. “That wasn’t a factor for me. I can injure myself doing anything, so I might as well just try it.”

That attitude is the byproduct of being in a family with a father, Jim, who’s the freshman football coach, and two sisters and a brother (Sean, who graduated last year) who all competed in sports.

“They keep me going,” Vessey said. “I’m really close to my brother and I called him the other night and said I’m tired, I’m trying to get through the week. He said you’re fine, just keep pushing.”
And she has, overcoming a size disadvantage in both the pool and on the track.

There’s also the little matter of being deaf in her left ear, which means compensating by doing things at events like lining up in the closest lane available to the starter and paying extra attention with her eyes.

She wears a hearing aid in the classroom to help her understand her teachers. Understanding her classmates is sometimes a different matter.

“Friends will come up and whisper and I’m like, ‘Deaf ear, I can’t hear you, I don’t know what you just said,’” she laughed.

Just another challenge that Vessey tackles with enthusiasm, and with the competitive streak that makes her smile as she points out she’s the first sibling in the family to compete in track.

“I got that on them,” she said. “I one-upped ’em on that.”

See the article here at:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Nationals Bound

Athletics have given me the opportunity to do a lot of traveling.  I find visiting new places exciting even if I am just there to compete. Much like adults who travel for work- they may not see much of the place they are staying.  I had great coaches that made an effort for us to get to experience the place we were visiting for competition.  We always got to at least see something and always got at least a mini tour of the University. I found driving or walking through different universities so exciting.  I absolutely love the idea of college that it is their own little city.  You can walk onto a campus and truly feel the spirit of it. I am excited to say as a coach I will get to give this experience to the 14 girls playing on my club water polo team.  

I am in my second season coaching the San Diego State University Club Water Polo team.  I like to think so far in my young coaching career I have had great success.  Shoot I have had great success with athletics in general at San Diego State. I am proud to say that I was apart of making program history with the water polo team, the swim team & now with the club water polo team.  Last year in my first season we placed 4th in the conference.  It was a great accomplishment for the girls & the young program.  This year the team had the same goals try to qualify for nationals.  Well I am proud to announce that we will be playing in the CWPA National Championship tournament in Tallahasse Florida on the campus of Florida State in two weeks.  (May 3-7) I have never been to Florida State so I am looking forward to sharing the experience with my players.
In our first tournament of the season we beat the 5 time National Champion Cal Poly by a goal.  This early season game ended up being extremely important in our ranking for the entire season.  In our conference the CWPA Socal Region we held the number 1 seed.  Going through the rest of the season with only our early season lost to UCSD.  Cal Poly would only have 1 loss against us in the first weekend.  As the season went on we held a number #1 seed in our conference and a top 5 national ranking.  This was very exciting for our program that previously had never gotten better than 4th in conference and never held a national ranking.

From the start of this semester I had asked Brooke since she was a college grad to help me out, when she had free time.  Brooke has a ton of coaching experience & I knew that our coaching styles would complement each other. Turns out we make a damn good pair!  If the stars aligned I think we would make great college coaches. Me as the Head Coach of course J .  In our first tournament this became evident that I needed Brooke to help me so that I could manage all these girls and the pace of the game.  After the game Brooke was speaking to the ref.  This ref had seen us play our whole career. Turns out the next weekend he was refeeing Mikayla’s game day and was speaking to my parents.  He was like saw your other daughters last weekend I see they just can’t get away from the sport. My mom just laughed. He told her that we were doing a great job with those girls. "Their team played very well.  They have so much potential”.  I laughed when my mom told us but it also made me feel good.

As the season went on Brooke came to every game with us.  She has become a part of the team and I am so thankful for all her help.  I understand the game at what I think is a high level but Brooke see’s the  game like very few people. I am sure this is because she watched film over & over through high school & college. Plus she sits on the deck for hours during tournaments watching & learning. I am so appreciative for this. Plus I take a bit more of a layed back approach when coaching these girls & Brooke is there to really get after them.  Basically during a game I do all the subbing, yelling & then some coaching of course.  Brooke’s job as my assistant holds a good amount of power.  She watches the flow of the game & what the other team is doing,  this way I can be coaching the specific play at that moment. Because Brooke is watching the entire game & taking the notes so that we can make the correct adjustments.  During all time outs & breaks between quarters Brooke then jumps into action telling the girls what adjustments need to be made.  She draws up the plays.  Brooke also coaches the girls when I sub them & answers any questions.  As I write this I am starting to think Brooke has a much harder job than mine. I promise I am also coaching.  Oh I can’t forget since Brooke is watching the flow of the game she also tells me when to take my timeouts.  I think great coaching duo’s work because there is no ego involved. We also trust each other. Brooke and I are competitive. I am sure you had no idea.  Since we just want to win our system works expectionally well. Don’t get me wrong at times we may disagree but it is rare.  Also I trust Brooke with my life so her telling me to call a timeout is like the word from the water polo gods!
(Brooke coaching)
With a coaching duo that hates to lose & seems to have a good grasp on everything it made the season very successful.  Don’t get me wrong I think we had a few coaches (cough, cough male) that were not thrilled by having girls outcoach them.  I think we may actually be the only female coaches in our league.  I actually at one point got an email from one coach (who we will not name) that gave me a scouting report.   The email may have come from a good place but needless to say it fired up Brooke & myself.  Within the email he gave me a scouting report that was not very good- Brooke does a much better job.  I laughed especially hard when he was not using actual water polo terms.  Plus my team had totally crushed his.  Needless to say I took the lesson my mom taught me when I was younger if you have nothing good to say don’t say anything at all.  I did not send him an email in response.   Then at the conference tournament Brooke & I walked by a set of parents on the way to the bench and they missed the lesson from their parents in not saying anything nice.  One mom clearly said “ you have to be kidding me, those are the San Diego State coaches! They are real coaches. I had heard SDSU was a good team. Must just have great players or a lot of luck.”  Well needless to say my team went on to bet her daughter's team.  Sorry everyone we are the real coaches.

The team before the championship tournament started
At the championship tournament we had received the number #1 seed which gave us a great advantage to make it into the championship game.  Win or lose in the championship game Sunday you get to go to Nationals.  To get to that point we had to win our two games on Saturday.  First we beat UCSD who had beaten us previously in the semester by a goal.  We had a great opening game won 10-4.  Our second game would be against UCI.  We had beaten them two times previously in the season but they had a good team.  Plus they have this lefty named Sharon Dyer.  Brooke and I have played with Sharon & her sister for years on a club team and in high school. While playing UCI our focus for the game was to make sure we limited her look with the deadly lob that she shots.  At the end of the game she made a great move but the goal was taken away.  We won 6-2.  While shaking hands we hugged & I reminded her to be a shooter. Then I told her how great her last move was great to score that goal. By beating UCI Saturday evening, we had clenched the program’s first trip every to the National Championship tournament!!

Going into Sunday’s game against Cal Poly, Brooke and I worried if we would come out flat.  The team had been extremely flat against UCI the evening before.   Our worries did not last much past the first sprint when we went & scored.  We jumped to an early lead of 2 goals.  The girls did a great job defensively.  They stuck to the plan that Brooke and I had drafted.  Plus we played to our strengths.  Cal Poly practices 6 days a week usually doing double.  While our team has 4 hours of pool time a week.  And we do very little conditioning.  I am going to be honest we hardly practice at all and I am usually lucky if I have 5 players all together.  Our game plan was to stay on offense as much as possible stopping them from the ability to counter us.  The girls did great with this.  As the game went back and forth late in the 3rd we looked to tie the game up.  We had a great goal with no time left on the shot clock.  All of a sudden the shot clocks were no longer working.  The ref’s originally called the goal.  Then after a complaint from someone they decided to hold up the game.  After about 10 minutes of deliberating and Jamie getting very pissed off in a ref’s face they took the goal away.  This was the change in momentum that we could not handle.  We would end up losing by 2 goals.  No matter this game showed us just how great we played, and with a little more practice & dedication to getting into shape that is a team we can beat.

After the game we were presented with a 2nd place plaque.  The girls were excited to at least receive something for such a great effort.  Plus they were shocked at my ability to “get pissed” they called it.  What that Ref did not know was how lucky he was that I kept Brooke from really getting mad.  Surprisingly I did not get a yellow card which was well deserved for my outburst.  I feel I did not get it due to the fact that they knew they were wrong.  No matter I showed the girls how much I cared.  While Brooke did the same by showing her disgust by almost breaking my clip board but also coaching the girls while I was arguing. No matter the loss the girls were ecstatic to have made program history.
There is my team- happy after getting 2nd!!

This being a student run club a few girls spend hours a week taking care of all the paperwork to allow the other girls to compete.  Once the excitement of getting second and playing a great game to Cal Poly who is 5 time National Champion, we realized now we have to plan our first really big travel trip to Florida. This has been a bit stressful due largely in part to our lack of funds.  The school has no ability to help so the girls are working overtime in trying to raise enough funds so that everyone can make the trip and they do not have to pay out of pocket.  The worst part is due to our lack of funds Brooke will most likely be unable to attend with us.  I am hoping we raise a ton of money which will allow Brooke to come. If not the girls have appreciated all she has done to help them and I will miss my handy dandy Assistant during the most important tournament of the year. Hopefully she has taught me enough to help guide the team to a great appearance at the national stage.  Plus we will get another crack at Cal Poly if we win our first few games.
It is an exciting time for the club in that we will get to play for a National Championship.  The girls are working hard & doing a ton of conditioning. If we can get our conditioning up and then practice all togheter a little more I have a feeling we are going to have a great time in Florida.  We just have to play our game and enjoy the experience.

I apologize for the long winded blog here just so much to talk about.
If you would like to donate to the San Diego State University Club Women’s Water polo club you can contact me directly or mail your check to:
C/o Women's Club Water Polo
Aztec Recreation Center
55th Street SDSU San Diego Ca 92182

Friday, April 13, 2012

Riding English

Life has been hectic between working at PEAR Sports, coaching water polo at SDSU and then getting in my training for my ITU triathlon (that is only 5 weeks out).  Even with life being hectic I have managed to get in some fun activities.  A few dinners with my family and grandpa.  A few great bike rides around San Diego.  A near crash with Brennan. Yea totally my fault- good news I only gave him a love tap with my arm shoving him out of the way as I rode through the intersection.  I am still mastering the whole cycling thing :)

The big adventure Easter weekend was I went horseback riding.  If you didn't know I love horse. No idea how it happened but I have loved them since I was little.  My parents have numerous books at home that are all about the different type of horse, saddles and all else that goes with horses.  While some girls played with dolls I played with horse. I had so many.  One Christmas my grandma (who had a miniature store) made me this huge barn.  Glued every red shingle on it.  Had fences. It was awesome!! Kinda wonder what happened to that barn. What I can tell you was it got its use- think Sean eventually went on to play with it and all his animals he collected. So Brennan being amazing like always knew that I loved horse so for Christmas he got me a riding lesson.  

When I got it for Christmas I was so excited and again made me realize he loves me so much. He truly listens and takes time to be extremely thoughtful.  This was the kind of gift that you realize the person took a lot of thought and effort to execute, not the I will just run to the mall gift.  He said he followed Living Social for weeks waiting for something with horseback riding to come along. 

I realize your thinking Jamie that is a huge gap.  Yea with everything happening since Christmas I had yet to schedule my horseback riding lesson. I finally did about 2 weeks ago.  We were on for noon on Saturday April 7th.  Brennan of course came with me and held out in the attack of the fly's.  The ranch was about 25 miles from where we live.  Once arriving at the Chestnut Hill Equestrian Center we were greeted by a nice woman named Sally who would be my instructor.  Since we were early (Brennan & I are always early) the lady was great about just getting us going.  As she asked me some basic questions she decided I would ride Monty who is a Thoroughbred that used to race.  I loved that his name was Monty and he was the kinda horse I have always wanted Brown with a lovely white diamond on his forehead.  Turns out I think Monty had a big crush on Brennan. More to come later in my blog.

To the delight of Brennan I was fitted for a jumping helmet. I had to laugh as well because I have ridden before but never with a helmet. At one point I did think maybe I am getting in over my head.  Turns out I am kinda athletic so I was good!  Sally let me brush Monty and help her get him all saddled up.  We were riding English (she claimed it is more comfortable) pretty sure I had only ridden Western prior to this lesson.  Once Monty was all saddled up I swung myself up.  I was ready for this lesson.

We headed down to the arena.  Once in the arena Sally went over a few basics walked next to me for one lap around and then let me go. Working on steering and all that good stuff. After a few minutes she then asked if I wanted to Trot. Of course I said sure.  Took a little getting used to. I would go with no problem and then forget something little and he would start to walk.  I think the best part of all was once I really started to get the hang of trotting whenever we got in front of Brennan no matter how perfect I was riding Monty would just stop and stare at him. To bad we cant have Monty at our wedding because he seems to love Brennan as much if not more than me.  More to come of this love story. (Stay Tuned)

After what seemed like not very long Sally then asked me if I wanted to try jumping. I thought hell why not! So she was teaching me what to do. I was a bit nervous but when I say jump it was not like at the Olympics it was probably 2 feet off the ground and my horse could just walk over if he wanted.  Needless to say a few times I think he did do that.. haha  However after a few rounds I could really tell when he was leaving the ground.  I guess a few times he cleared way over the jump and did a few canter steps.  Which was really awesome. I did the jumps coming from different angles and things.  It was cool. Then she set up two and I did like an obstacle course (avoiding where Brennan was watching). I did the obstacle course a few times and then it turns out I had been riding for over an hour, so we headed back up to the barn.
On the way back up to the barn she asked if I wanted to give him a quick bath.  It was pretty warm and the poor guy was all sweaty. I of course thought sure that will be fun. Yes again I realize by having me do it she doesn't have to, but I thought I rode him I should give him a bath. And why not get the entire experience.  So we hooked him up so that we could get the saddle and everything off. While I was doing this Brennan was standing in front of him a ways way.  Monty kept inching toward him, he kept inching to the point where he was basically laying his huge head on Brennan's shoulder.  Then Brennan finally was petting him and Monty just looked so happy. So needless to say I think my horse loved my Fiance!! It was soo funny!! Once he was ready we took him over to get his bath. I learned very quickly why all the little girls that were there washing there ponies for a show on Sunday were wearing rain boots.  My feet got soaked!! Plus the little girls thought I was just so funny. Then I gave Monty a snack! 

Then it was time for us to go. I was sad to leave Monty.  Sally invited us back anytime for a lesson or just bring carrots.  Plus I am always welcome to help wash horses and things.  I just might take her up on that offer.  Needless to say it was one of the best gifts I have gotten.  It was a great time. However my back killed for about 4 days after.  Like any new activity you are surprised at all the muscles you use and riding and jumping a horse is no different. However back pain was totally worth it!!!

Thank you Brennan for an amazing time riding my horse Monty!!!
Sunday we headed to my parents house to celebrate Easter with my family. We had a great day just hanging out all together- enjoying each others company.  We would also do a semi birthday celebration for my mom, me and Sean.  All us kids gave mom her present from us (only a week early) but we wanted to be all together when she got it.  Then grandpa gave all us April Birthday's our gifts since he was with us. It was a great day and much needed with all the other hectic things happening in life.  To just get to spend time with the important people in my life!!! Take time to be thankful.  Life is short, we have to enjoy every minute of it!! 

I also think my mom has the right idea of avoiding any type of Easter egg hunt as we have gotten older. Us Vessey kids are pretty darn competitive and then throw in Brennan and Brooke's boyfriend Nik it could have been one ugly battle for the golden egg :)

Easter weekend was a huge success of working out, riding horses and many many many laughs with my amazing family!!