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Natasha Kai Should Join the Wizards

This is going to be my standard when deciding which athletes to follow during the Olympics this summer in Beijing: would they be able to fit in with the Wizards?

Like, I went to the U.S. Women's National Team practice on Wednesday, since the team is in D.C. preparing for Saturday's friendly against Canada at RFK. Heather Mitts and Abby Wambach might have substantial followings, but there's no particular reason to think they'd fit in with the Wizards. Natasha Kai, on the other hand, was practicing in one orange boot and one red one. I'm guessing she'd fit in with the Wizards.

"She's crazy," said teammate Heather O'Reilly.

"She's crazy," agreed teammate Leslie Osborne.

What makes the Hawaiian forward crazy? Bearing in mind I had about 13 minutes to explore this topic, here's a short list: she stretched out her earlobes so she can wear 0 gauge ear plugs, she celebrated a goal during qualifying in Mexico by doing the Cha Cha in front of 27,000 Mexican fans, she refers to her occupation on her MySpace page as "RoCkStAr," she spent afternoons at Hawaii catching passes from new Redskins QB Colt Brennan (whom she calls "my best friend"), she just finished choreographing a dance routine to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" that she plans on teaching to her teammates to allow for pre-game performances, she wants to be a police officer when she quits the sport, and she once burned out on soccer and schoolwork and quit everything for a year to cook, wash dishes and wipe down tables at a college cafeteria, staying in shape by playing rugby with a men's team.

"I did a little soul-searching," she said of the 12 months between high school and college. "Sometimes, if I felt like it, I would just play hooky and go to the beach."

More noticeable than all that are her 19 tattoos, which include the names of her parents, five siblings and two nephews on one arm, which doesn't leave much room for more names; "I don't think anyone's planning on having kids any time soon," she said, which is lucky. The latest ink came in the form of three stars on the back of her neck;" "I think she has enough to actually give one of her tattoos to each person" on the team, Osborne said.

The dance routines, meantime, take a day or two to choreograph and have proven popular with the entire organization; "I've gotta make moves where everybody can learn 'em, because not everybody has rhythm, let's just put it that way," Kai said. Does this include new Coach Pia Sundhage.

"She's got a little rhythm," Kai said. "I taught her how to Crank Dat."

"Oh my gosh, the best dancer ever," defender Mitts said of Kai. "I think almost everybody pretty much knows the dances. Even our GM, Cheryl Bailey, was doing 'Superman' the other day in the locker room."

One teammate speculated that she could go to Hawaii and ask Kai for cliff-diving lessons and Kai would deliver; when asked, though, the forward said she doesn't go cliff-diving, and that she merely performs backflips off boulders.

As for those non-matching cleats, some teammates had orange, and some had red, and Kai had both, "so I figured same size, same shoe, let's just rock one of each," she said. And yes, she plans to rock that look during the Olympics.

"She's just so off the wall," O'Reilly said by way of explanation. "She's Hawaiian man; she grew up in another land."

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 8, 2008; 5:55 PM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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Great piece, I love me some Natasha Kai!

Posted by: Mark | May 9, 2008 1:58 AM | Report abuse

I'd actually like to read a little more, if you have the time, about Natasha Tai's hiatus year. Taking that time to rethink and recharge shows an independence of mind that athletes (and sports fans) often celebrate in word but condemn in practice.

This was a great intro to an evidently interesting person.

Posted by: Lindemann | May 9, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Mammmmma Mia...

Posted by: Juan-John | May 9, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

1. We are the U.S. Americans...

She NEEDS to be in Washington D.C. Like, now.

Posted by: | May 9, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

With all that ink and the way they're playing, United should offer her a contract.

Posted by: Section 130 | May 9, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

But can she play?

Posted by: Bart | May 9, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what the article means. What do you mean she should be on the Wizards? I don't get it.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

The tats (yes, that's an "a," boys and girls) are just okay but I do love her tummy. No disrespect intended.
Play on, tattooed playa.

Posted by: Arlington Pimp | May 9, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

She can play and has shown it more under the Pia system recently. The Wizards reference was to her being different and not being a boring character or interview. I love me some Kai.

//I'm not sure how I feel that when I read this last night, I scanned the piece and saw that there was already a visited link on this page. of course it was her MySpace...

Posted by: sitruc | May 9, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

She needs a psychological (the Olympics) ain't about her.

Posted by: Kerr Mudgeon | May 9, 2008 9:05 PM | Report abuse

But can she do the sprinkler?

Posted by: Rob Iola | May 10, 2008 2:50 AM | Report abuse

She needs a psychological (the Olympics) ain't about her.

Posted by: Kerr Mudgeon | May 9, 2008 9:05 PM

When did she ever say it was?

Posted by: cica | May 10, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

But can she play?

Posted by: Bart | May 9, 2008 1:25 PM

Read this then shut up.

Posted by: I-270, Exit 1 | May 11, 2008 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Yes, play for the Freedom. Play for United.

Play for the Caps too, while you're at it.

Posted by: B.A. | May 11, 2008 7:59 PM | Report abuse


Can we get more pictures of attractive female athletes that look like they are in the process of taking their shirts off? Thanks.

Posted by: FS | May 12, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Tattoo hater | May 14, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

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