This article is part of the USA Women's Eagles Final in '14 blog. All entries are written exclusively by members of the women's national team.

“This is the real secret of life -- to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play. - Alan Watts

This is one of my favorite quotes for many reasons. As a pre-student teacher and a young athlete aspiring to play in the World Cup, it is hard to live in the here and now. I am always focused on what is next and what is to come. Sometimes to the point where I forgot to enjoy what is right in front of me. This is why I like my work to be play. Play is defined as the act of engaging in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. While I am not trying to challenge the definition of play, I simply believe it can be both. Play is a word that is used a lot in my life. Most people who know me well would say that all I do in life is play. Now don’t get me wrong, I work hard at everything I commit to, but I like to make work play. Right now I am in a unique spot in life where I am a young Padawan in all aspects of my life trying to become an omnipotent Jedi.

I just started student teaching in a third grade classroom. Now teaching is a lot harder than most people give credit. Trust me when I say it all isn’t coloring. You have to take into account lesson planning that meets the needs of the diverse ability group in your class. Not only that, but how am I supposed to motivate an entire classroom of kids to want to learn? Well, you might have guessed it, but play. I like to make my work play and incorporate play in my class. It is important to enjoy what you are doing and be passionate about it. I don’t wake up in the morning and dread going to school, I wake up excited to go and play and inspire my students to want to learn and have fun while doing so. They learn so much more that way! I find true enjoyment when my students are completely engaged, with smiles on their faces, loving what they are learning.

Rugby is another area where I am still a young Padawan. I am constantly growing and trying to learn and become better. There is training every day. From lifting to conditioning to skills, skills, skills, and more skills, I am always trying to be the best I can be. Sometimes rugby becomes work and a job, which it is in reality. But jobs can be play! I know this best. This is why to be the best I can be I need to play rugby not work it. I play my best rugby when I’m having fun enjoying such a unique sport. I have been told more than once that I need to be more aggressive and I’m sure a little more aggression wouldn’t hurt me, but when there is a smile on my face and a pep in my step that is when I play my best rugby.

Managing my 16-credit class load, pre-student teaching, my job working with three terrific six-month-old triplets that constantly make me smile, Penn State rugby practices, rehab, lifting, and conditioning I would say that I wouldn’t get through it if I didn’t consider it play. I still commit fully and take it seriously, but I try to make it fun. Life is a special gift that will pass us by if we don’t cherish each moment in the here and now. And heck, have fun with it and always remember to play.