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Natasha Kai

By Jonathan Castner

Her goals against Mexico and Costa Rica sealed Olympic qualification this week. But the best is yet to come for USA striker Natasha Kai. This issue GP sits down with the Hawaii native to talk about her emerging responsibility with team USA.

You scored some important goals in qualifying. How satisfying is it to be such an important part of the team now? I am just going into this with a positive mindset and I give it my all whether I知 coming off the bench or starting. I知 trying to make any contribution I can without a second guess. There is so much talent and such great camaraderie on this team, I知 just happy to be here.

Hawaiian, Chinese, Caucasian. You have an interesting mix of heritage. Do you feel anyone more than the other? How has your identity played a role in your achievements? I don稚 know. I知 just me. I知 proud that I知 opening up doors for players in Hawaii. I知 proud when I知 putting on this jersey. There is no better feeling. This is not just for me or for my state. It痴 for my country and it痴 just an incredible feeling.

 

"I'm proud I'm opening up doors for players in Hawaii."

But growing up away from the mainland made it hard at times. I知 proud I知 from Hawaii. There are six kids in my family so they couldn稚 really afford to be flying me to the mainland to play in a lot of these tournaments. Finally I got called up in college for the U21s and gradually I made the full team. I knew in my mind I wanted to be a part of this team.

You have a number of tattoos. Which is your favorite? My favorite tattoo? Hm. It has to be the one of my family, of my mom and my dad, siblings, and my three nephews on it.

The sport is growing in Hawaii. Tell me about it. Every time I go back home the sport is getting big. For me, I知 just setting the standards for small kids. I知 living proof, I never thought I would be here to this day.

How have you improved as a player since PIA was named manager? This year, starting in January, I came back a new person. I was fit, I worked on my touch, my It just makes a difference. You can tell. When I have confidence Abby has confidence. I知 pretty feisty. I知 pretty good in the air and I知 fast. There are a few things I need to work on but we usually keep that kind of stuff within the team.

4/9/2008



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