staff, July 17, 2012

Former star Illini soccer player Emily Zurrer sends back her latest update as part of our ongoing Big Ten Olympic Journals for the 2012 Summer Olympics. In this post, our member of the Canadian's women's soccer steam describes life in the mountains of Switzerland and how she celebrated a big birthday.

Here's what Zurrer wrote:

Former Illinois soccer All-American Emily Zurrer is playing for Canada in the 2012 London Olympics. The three-time All Big Ten player chronicles her journey here for Read all of our Olympic journals.

"Hello, Bonjour, Ciao, Guten Tag. Quick update from the mountains of Switzerland where we have based our pre-Olympic training camp! Since I?ve last checked in, we?ve played two games against Colombia and New Zealand, taken a gondola to the peak of the mountain we?re on, and celebrated my 25th (eek!) birthday.

"We won the first game 1-0 against a high-pressuring skillful Colombian team, and then beat a talented New Zealand team 2-0 a few nights ago. It feels good to get two wins and two shutouts under our belts. Now we have one more game against  the world's No. 3-ranked Brazil tomorrow before heading to London the next day.

"Apart from a few random adventures on days off, life has been pretty standard here. A lot of meetings, video, training, gym, treatment, eating. For those who aren?t closely associated with any women?s soccer players, you should know that we place food very near the top of our list of priorities. Actually in college it may have been the top priority, besides soccer.

Here's a shot I took from our train during a travel day.

"Luckily we generally have a pretty good spread when it comes to meals (always approved by Cesar, our team's Sports Scientist). And it's no different over here in Switzerland. Cesar even let us split one slice of strudel for my birthday. Yes, one. He is so generous.

"Funny story: One of our servers is a little Italian man named Walter, who speaks maybe three words of English. When he brought out my slice of strudel, there was a sparkler on top of it in place of a candle. Everyone told me to blow out the  ?candle,? so naturally I listened, I blew and sparks went everywhere. Walter did NOT think this was funny, and he muttered a slew of Italian under his breath as it was happening.

"Little did he know, our previous coaches were Italian and we actually lived in Rome for four months prior to the 2011 World Cup, so we can understand a little Italian, especially the swear words. I can?t translate exactly what was said, but I'm happy to report that we got over this little mishap and Walter is his old self, still swearing under his breath every chance he gets.

Having fun with teammates.

"OK, it?s bedtime here in the land of the Swiss. I?ll update again from London.

"We?ll stay in the village for two days before we head to Coventry where we play our first game. Starting to get excited! Over and out.

"I-L-L ?

"Oh, and you can follow me on Twitter at @emme_z. Here are a few of my latest tweets:"

Editor's note:  Look back at Zurrer's Illinois bio page at and find her entries from London on her Big Ten Olympic archive page.