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."
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