Keli Smith-Puzo is the only US women’s field hockey player who has returned to international competition after giving birth, and she’s made the return twice.
After the birth of her second son, Ian, in August 2011, Ms. Smith-Puzo returned to training just three months later. She gave birth to her first son, Xavi, in 2010.
Smith-Puzo told Sports Illustrated that her children have helped her better enjoy field hockey and competing.
“For me, before having children, it was sometimes hard for me to turn [the game mentality] off,” she said. “The game ends, and I wouldn't be able to turn off what happened. And over time, what ends up happening is that you take everything back onto the field. Instead of starting fresh, and feeling like you're re-energized, you take some baggage back and it's sometimes difficult and exhausting. But after [becoming a mother], I felt I was enjoying the sport more because I was able to turn it off when I was off the field.”
Appearing in her 150th match for the US national team, Smith-Puzo competed in the 2011 Four Nations tournament in Rosario Argentina when she was three months pregnant, helping her team win a silver medal. This is her second Olympic Games – the team placed eighth in Beijing in 2008.
In London, the US women’s field hockey team is out of medal contention, playing for 11th place on Aug. 10.