Rachel Dawson is a stalwart of the USA team, but were it not for the generosity of her neighbours the athletic midfielder would probably have been plying her trade on a basketball court.

But basketball's loss was hockey's gain and with 233 caps to her credit, Rachel has played for her country since 2005, quickly making her mark on the international hockey scene. In 2006 she was one of six athletes nominated for the World Hockey Women's Young Player of the Year and she has gone on to collect the National Player of the Year award in 2007 and the Olympic Qualifier Player of the Tournament in 2008.

Rachel has played at two Olympics Games – Beijing 2008 and London 2012 – and was part of the US team that beat Argentina in 2011 to win the Pan American Cup. Just last month she was one of the core of midfielders who helped springboard the USA to victory at the Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow, ensuring that the USA will appear in the Champions Trophy in 2016.

Away from the hockey pitch Rachel is a prolific writer. Her personal blog is a lively and compelling read, encompassing her thoughts about her family, life, coffee and hockey. In her introduction she explains that as a kid she wanted to be a basketball player, but her neighbours gave her and her seven siblings some hockey sticks. That simple gesture led to three of the Dawson girls playing for the national team: something that Rachel puts down to their '"stubbornness and competitive natures."