Wednesday, August 8, 2012

STOB’s Player Journal – Minnesota Valkyrie C Cristina Kelley

Cristina Kelley will be a new member of the Minnesota Valkyrie, after the camp in July it seems she will be playing center.  If you think that because she'll be a first year member of the Valks she'll pull some punches in her opinions in the journal, you're going to be surprised.  Cristina tells it like it is.  The thing that her fans, teammates and coaches need to realize is that all of her opinions seem to be coming from the standpoint of wanting to win.  Winning teams have to be honest with each other, even if it isn't what teammates/coaches want to hear.

Enjoy Cristina's thoughts on joining the Valkyrie and the July weekend camp, as well as some pictures from the camp:

I am very excited to be playing football again.  I stopped playing last spring when I moved to Minneapolis to start my new job.  Since I was getting settled in to a new city and new job last summer, I decided I could not dedicate the time that is necessary to play football.

I played for a year for the Seattle Mist (2010-2011); however, because I joined that team late in the season and the season was cut short (our last game versus Dallas got cancelled), I never really got to play in a game.

I am happy to be coming on to this team with some experience and prior football knowledge.  I think it really helps me that I played for Chris Michaelson in Seattle because he is extremely tough and pushes everyone to their breaking point.  This has made it easier for me come in to the Valkyrie practices with a no-nonsense attitude.  When I go to practice, I am there to work and to improve my football game.

There are rookies that dedicate a lot of time to getting better and working out outside of practices.  I really respect these girls and I hope they get a chance to play because they have the right attitude and desire to play and win.

I feel like there are a lot expectations and pressure on me from the coaches to perform because I have played before.  I feel like I put in the work to continually get better but I am unsure if I am living up to those expectations.  I like that the coaches are honest with us about where we stand and what they expect from us.

Thoughts about camp on July 20-22, 2012

Friday was a long day. I worked from 7am until 5pm when I left for camp.  Bethenny, Michelle, and Chrissa came to pick me up from my apartment in downtown Minneapolis.  We barely fit all of our suitcases, football bags and coolers of food in the car with us.  We hit some traffic along the way and arrived in Osceola around 6:15pm.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="608"] Moving in for the weekend.[/caption]

Bethenny, Michelle and I checked in to the Osceola River Valley Inn and Suites, where they messed up our room reservation and only gave us 1 king bed instead of 2 queen beds. Since the hotel was booked on Saturday night, we were unable to switch rooms.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Hmmm....[/caption]

We got to the high school at 6:40 and chatted in the lunchroom with the rest of the girls until we did our individual evaluations with the coaches.  During my evaluation, the coaches told me they have high expectations of me and that I better live up to them.  (Not really sure how I did).

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Bethenny and Michelle packing the cooler for the day.[/caption]

At 8pm we got an introduction to camp. The theme words for camp are.




From 830pm-11pm we had 6 classroom sessions, which lasted for about 20 minutes each.  I found these sessions to be extremely helpful because they went over basics of everything that has to do with being part of the Valkyrie (the only thing I would change about these classes is the order in which we attended them - football related ones together and business related ones together):







After the classes we had a brief discussion and then went back home to bed.  We got back around midnight and fell asleep immediately (I took the floor and let Bethenny and Michelle have the bed).

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Comfy![/caption]

Saturday was another long day.  We woke up to pouring rain outside.  We got to the school around 8am but found that it was locked and the keys didn’t arrive for another 20 minutes.  After having a brief meeting, the coaches decided we would switch around the schedule and be indoors in the morning and have both of our practices outside in the afternoon.

The morning workouts had two stations: weight lifting and agility (both equally tiring in different ways).

After the workouts, we had 4 more classroom sessions that went a little more in-depth than the ones the previous night. When I was in Seattle, we jumped straight into playbooks, so I found these classes on the basics to be extremely helpful in building a base common knowledge across the team.  One of these sessions was the Wonderlic Test (which all NFL rookies take: a 50 question test in 12 minutes).  If anyone of us beat Coach Tony’s score, we didn’t have to participate in conditioning.

We had an hour lunch break then practice from 1-430pm.  Immediately at the beginning of practice many of the girls (including myself) realized that we should not have eaten so much during lunch since we were working out right after.  The practice was tiring but went very well.  As usual we worked on basics: positioning, stances, carrying techniques, blocking techniques, pursuit drills, etc.  Once again, I never really learned these in Seattle, so it was helpful to go over them.

We got a short break between practices then had practice again until 7pm.  This was fun because we had a competition between rookies and veterans.  Each team chose one person to represent them in a bag pulling competition and one person to represent them in a sprint, and the winners didn’t have to take part in conditioning.  The rookies won both competitions, but we decided to condition with the veterans to show that we are all one team.

I was one of the 3 girls that beat Coach Tony’s score on the Wonderlic test, so I didn’t need to participate in conditioning.  However, I chose to condition as this is something that will only help me improve my game.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] 3 gals + 1 small bathroom to get ready = rah ruh.[/caption]

After practice, we all got changed and got ready for our event at the Tippy Canoe Bar and Restaurant in Osceola.  The event lasted from 8-11pm and the restaurant was pretty packed!  We seemed to have a lot of fans/admirers there that bought Valkyrie posters and t-shirts from us.  There was also a bachelor party and biker gang there that seemed to love hanging out with us and taking pictures with us.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Michelle, me, and Bethenny at our Tippy Canoe event![/caption]


After the event, we went straight to bed as we had another long day in front of us.

Although practice didn’t start until 9am on Sunday, we decided to get to the school early to get a few more repetitions in.  Coach Everett had told me that I would be playing center and that I needed to get in 500 snaps before the scrimmage at 2pm.  Luckily, Bethenny and Michelle were willing to help me out and came early with me to practice my snaps.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Muscles we are a flexin'.[/caption]

During practice, I was snapping fairly well, all of the balls were the right height, some just a little to the right of the quarterback.   I had done 236 good snaps so far that day, and then I snapped a high one over the quarterback’s head.

After practice ended, I decided to get a few more snaps in (ending at 423) before going to lunch.  When I went up to the school, I found that Bethenny and Michelle had left to go get food and had taken my food with them.  At this point, I was really frustrated, both from snapping and being hungry.  I decided to go for a run to get my frustrations out.  After my run, I finished my 500 snaps by myself down on the field.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="700"] Where is my lunch?!?!?[/caption]

Before the scrimmage we met in the school to go over the depth chart.  I was named starting Center on offense and 2nd team Left tackle on offense.  I was happy to be on the 1st and 2nd offense teams but disappointed that I wasn’t playing defense.  One of my favorite parts of football is tackling, but the scrimmage is just flag football.

During the scrimmage, the 1st and 2nd teams got about 95% of the reps.  I was happy that I got to play for almost the entire scrimmage and I did well (all snaps were good).

When the scrimmage was done, we did a little conditioning then went home.  I was happy to get home and relax after a long weekend.


Thanks to Cristina for her Journal, in case you missed it, here is Cydney Froelich's Journal from last week.  

Remember that STOB is the official Valkyrie blog and we will continue to bring you more of the off-season Valkyrie news, building up to the new spring season in 2013. 

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