The National Women's Hockey League is currently in its offseason following its sixth year of play, but things have been anything but normal over the past few weeks. A lot has transpired recently, and it appears as though this could be the tip of the iceberg.
It's easy to follow tennis throughout the year, and following the latest news and scores from USA basketball and soccer is typically not too difficult either.
And when it comes to the Olympics, most people think of swimming, track, and gymnastics. But what about the other sports? Even though they're less popular, there's still reason to follow Team USA in the lesser sports, especially with the 2020 Games now less than a year away.
There's one US team that deserves just as much attention heading into 2020 as any other team in the nation. The US women's water polo team will head to the next Summer Games as two-time defending Olympic gold medalists. Away from the Olympics, they've won gold at every major world event since 2014, including three straight world championships. They're a perfect 28-0 in games played in 2019.
At the most recent Pan-Am Games this summer, the US won a fifth straight title, finishing the tournament with a dominant 24-4 win over Canada. The gold medal win was the 59th straight victory by the team.
Not only are the women winning – they're dominating. At the most recent world championship, they outscored their opponents 93-26 in six games. The domination was even greater at the Pan-Am Games, where they outscored opponents 142-24 in six games. They scored at least 20 goals in ever contest, while never allowing more than 7.
To put it simply – Team USA women's water polo is in the middle of a dynasty, and looked primed to carry that dominance into Tokyo.
Steffens has played with the US senior team since 2010. She led the team in scoring at the 2016 Olympics, and has 21 goals over the team's last two tournaments. She's a second generation water polo player, and her sister, Jessica, was a member of the US team that won silver at the 2008 Olympics, and gold at the 2012 Games.
Johnson made 91 saves over the last two tournaments, hitting double-digit saves four times. She's one of just two players on the US team not originally from California. A Miami, Florida native, Johnson graduated from Princeton, where she was the school's all-time leader in saves.
Team USA will take the rest of the year off, a well-deserved break. But if you want to learn more about water polo and get to know the team, the team has a YouTube channel.
Even though the women's water polo team won't hit the water again for a while doesn't mean there aren't events to watch this month...
- Surfing will be a new sport at the 2020 Olympics! If you're interested in learning more about the sport, the ISA World Surfing Games are taking place now through September 15 in Japan, and you can watch a lot of them on the Olympic Channel or at OlympicChannel.com.
The event is an actual Olympic qualifier, with eight spots up for grabs, and features some of the best surfers in the world. Surfers will have had to competed in either the 2019 or the 2020 ISA World Surfing Games to be eligible to qualify for the Olympics. The top name to know on the women's side of the board is Stephanie Gilmore, an Australian who has won seven world titles in the last 11 years.
- There's tons of beach volleyball happening this month, starting with the FIVB Rome 5-star World Tour Finals, which ends this week. Former Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and her playing partner Brooke Sweat advanced to the tournament finals, getting one step closer to qualifying for the 2020 Games. The duo are currently ranked No. 8 in the world.
Fellow Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman are No. 1 in the world, and most recently took home second at the Beach Volleyball Worlds in July. A beach volleyball Olympic qualifying tournament will be help on September 18-22 in Haiyang, China.
- The Blackmores Sydney Marathon will take place on September 15 in Sydney, Australia. The marathon is a gold level race in the International Association of Athletics Federations, meaning it has the strictest requirement for entry, and draws the best marathon runners in the world. Top finishers will likely be names to watch heading into the Olympics.
The race follows the same course created for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, so watching it not only gives you a chance to learn about the best runners in the world, but also see pretty scenery as they run by.
Filed under: tokyo 2020; 2020 olympics; team usa; water polo; surfing; beach volleyball; marathon; blackmores sydney marathon; april ross; alex klineman; kerri walsh jennings; brooke sweat; stephanie gilmore; maggie steffens; ashleigh johnson
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