Published March 15, 2012
LONDON – She shoots, she scores!
The former Kate Middleton smashed home a goal Thursday as she played a bit of field hockey while visiting the British Olympic women's team at Olympic Park. The Duchess of Cambridge, who captained the hockey team at her high school, Marlborough College, took the field in a morale-boosting mission ahead of the July 27-Aug. 12 London games.
Admitting it's been a while since she had taken a stick in hand, she tried to suggest that no one should watch. That notion was ignored.
"I was really looking forward to coming here, but now I am here and have discovered I have to play, I am not feeling so confident," she said.
The glamorous Kate arrived at Olympic Park in heels but quickly donned a gray "Team GB" (Great Britain) sweatshirt over coral-colored jeans. She expressed some concern that her skinny jeans would clash with the bright blue pitch, but gamely grabbed a stick and took a few shots.
"This is going to be so embarrassing," she said. "My brain thinks I can do all these wonderful things but my body just doesn't play ball."
Clearly she was sandbagging the crowd of journalists. Although no one was at the net to block a goal, Kate took a big swing and let the ball fly.
Zing. It was in.
The Olympic team captain, Kate Walsh, pronounced herself impressed.
"She told me that she missed playing as part of a team," Walsh said. "She also told me that she used to hit the penalty corners and you could see that. She got low and her shots were really sweet."
Kate, 30, had specifically asked to meet with the hockey team as part of her role as an Olympic ambassador. Together with Princes William and Harry, she will make an effort to see and be seen at the London Olympics and to cheer the home side on.
But before Thursday, few really knew what sports she might like to see.
The team seemed to appreciate that she was willing to risk embarrassing herself to help promote their sport. She chatted with U.K. coaches, trainers and players, asking about training.
"Do you still get bananas and oranges at halftime?" she asked.
The visit seemed to evoke a time when she was just Kate, not a duchess, not the wife of a prince, not someone whose wedding was watched by millions around the world.
The duchess recalled wistfully how she used to play her hockey position.
"I really enjoyed it," she said. "And it is great to be here."