June 28 - Spring Hill, FL - Home and Unpacked
Well, my amazing adventure has unfortunately been over for a few days now. I am reluctant to say that I am back in the states and life is back to the usual. I am happy to say that I did make it safely and the 10 hour flight was not bad at all. Ironically enough, the 1.5 hour flight from atlanta to florida took forever! Well, mentally atleast. I was so tired from the previous flight, 10 hours and I managed to sleep I think 1 hour. Well either way as soon as I boarded my flight to tampa I sat in my seat and instantly fell asleep for what seemed like forever! Well when I woke up, to my shock....WE HADN'T EVEN TAKEN OFF YET! Ahh! Haha.
Well yes, for those who noticed the picture I was number 18, that small girl in the back haha! My teammates were giants and I didn't feel like the tall one for once. Like I have said many times in these blogs I had an amazing experience! The things I have learned about the game and myself will hopefully give me that edge I am looking for for my senior season at Brevard College. I learned that in front of people I have never met before I was able to play with a confidence that I have been looking for for a long time. I am planning on bringing that confidence to the UF camps, where I will be recieving some side lessons from the professionals I have met through the previous summers of working. And better yet, I am planning on bringing that confidence back to North Carolina and taking it to whatever state we play in! I have high hopes for the Women's Volleyball Team of 2009, and I am soooo excited to be a part of it! This may be only our second season in the NCAA Division II, but we already proved EVERYONE wrong with our first season, why not top it!
So for those who have been reading my blog and keeping up with this trip you might have noticed one thing missing that I mentioned in the very first post.....don't know it? Well I'll help you :) I have previously mentioned that on this trip we were going to be helping some younger players in developing areas in a clinic. Well I am not 100% sure of why this did not happen but there were a few parts of the trip that were changed due to unforeseen circumstances, and I think this has to do with some miscommunications after the initial trip to Holland was cancelled.. Besides, we ended playing a few young club teams and they didn't seem to need any help while they beat us! Haha! So to make up for this I have volunteered for a 3-day volleyball clinic for complete beginners here in my town and I am quite excited for it. It starts tomorrow morning and lasts till wednesday. I am hoping to inspire some kids into loving the sport as much as I do! Also, just F.Y.I., I have been helping out the high school that I graduated from with some open gyms and working with the girls one on one to inspire them to continue to do better. A new coach has been hired since my time at Springstead High School, and my senior year we only had 4 wins, so she has had a lot of work on her plate. But she managed to get a small group of girls to the second round of the conference tournament this past season for the first time in probably 10+ years. She also managed to gain the unanimous vote into coach of the year. She has asked me to help inspire the girls and give them the will to win, since unfortunately it is something my high school has lost over time in the sport of volleyball.
Well I thank all of you who read my blog during my time in Argentina. I thank all who helped make it possible! It was my dream to wear the letter's USA across my chest, and I am very honored to do it during my time at Brevard College. This is only the first step of many for me towards my dream, and I hope it is not the last time I wear those same letters. Less than 2 weeks until the rest of my summer is spent at the University of Florida learning from the best and teaching those of the future. And then it is back to Brevard to finish my college career, and I plan on it being a high note for all of us!
For those interested, I have compiled some game footage for my family and friends. I plan on doing another one but this is a good start! =] Enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pB9sg7MvC4 (copy and paste into your browser)
Peace, ciao, adios!
June 24 - Buenos Aires, Argentina SA - Time to Say Goodbye :(
¡Hola! ¿Que tal?
I can´t believe my time here in Argentina is over. I have had such an amazing experience. I have learned so much about the country, it´s people, it´s history. I am in love with the city of Buenos Aires! Between the daily norms, and the crazy nightlives, I think I might have just been exposed to one of the most interesting cultures. I am glad to say that I got the most out of my trip. Between the amount of pictures I have taken, cathedrals I have explored, and chances I have taken, I think I have enough evidence of this amazing place to last me a lifetime!
Well, now to update you on the past few days. The 22nd we had some down time, I simply explored the city with my coach as well as the other two basketball coaches. We walked to the port and went to an art museum that displayed paintings from local artists. I was unable to take any photos as it was not allowed. I payed 15 pesos, which is somewhere around 4 american dollars, so either way it was a beneficial experience. The rest of the day was spent exploring Florida Street, ironically enough. It is a street where no cars drive and is full of shops and malls and musical performances. In the evening we had game 4, and unfortunately we did not even up the record at 2-2 like we had hoped to. This time we played some older girls, and they deffinately showed us how to hit. With their amazing athleticism and their ability to hit very hard, they were able to beat us 3-0, but not without a fight. Still without a setter, we held our own losing each set by only a few points. I have gained so much experience on this trip and even more confidence, and I have made some friendships that I believe will last a long time! I am proud to say that I am satisfied with my performance, and I am glad that I ended on a good note with my serving and blocking.
Yesterday was spent on the river. We took a boat tour and I got some great shots of ship wrecks. We visited the islands of Argentina, where the houses names are their addresses. We then explored Tigre City which was a more expensive neighborhood. It was more residential than the city, and it is also where the current president of Argentina lives. The neighborhood itself is a lot safer as well, so younger people prefer to live there. Along with some of my teammates, I decided to use the rest of the day to visit the local cementary. Now here in america that seems like a weird thing to do, but the cementary we visited was like an outdoor walking museum. Great big statues defined each families grave site, and most of the caskets were above ground inside little ´´units.´´
One thing I have noticed is that the whole time I have been here in Argentina I have not seen one cat, NOT ONE CAT. Instead of stray cats like most places in America, Buenos Aires has a ton of stray dogs, and the sight is unbearable. But the one thing I could not get over was that as soon as you entered the cementary, you were greeted by a statue of the virgin mary, and below it were about 20 cats, just hanging out around the base. All through the cementary cats roamed. They were very friendly and used to being fed by visitors. The cementary, although a resting place for the deceased, was like a sanctuary to these cats. I just still can´t get it out of my mind that all the cats in the city were located in nothing more ironic than a cementary.
Well today is our last day in Argentina, and I am VERY sad to leave. I was up for breakfast and now I need to pack since we are checking out in a few hours. We had a fairwell dinner last night at a local restaurant, and we have our last meal together at Torre Paris, where we have been eating lunch almost everyday. We then have a few hours to roam before we head to the airport for our agonizing 10 hour flight. But I´ll tell you what, every minute of it will be worth it, that´s for dang sure!
June 21 - Buenos Aires, Argentina SA - A Valient Win by the U.S.A!
Hey everyone! Sorry for missing a day again, I had a very long day yesterday and did not get in til late. I am going to sum up things really quick. The other day we had game 2, and we went in very excited and positive about the outcome. With every game, our group of 6 middles and no setter has been growing closer and working more and more as a team. Basically, we are starting to look like we know how to play volleyball haha. We have played in a different gym for every game. For this one we took a trip to The River Plate Staidum, also known as monumental stadium for being the largest stadium in Argentina, seating 87,000 people. It is home to the River Plate soccer club, the rival team of the soccer team in our area, The Racing Club. We walked in expecting a tour, and our tour guide was no where to be found. So we sat, and knowing we had a game in a few hours I was under the influence that we were going to be getting back on the bus and traveling elsewhere to play. Well I was wrong. The tour guide never showed and we were led to a gym inside the stadium to play our match, I thought it was an amazing experience. The court quality itself was less than what we Americans consider a good court, but for them I am sure they are satisfied with a net and some lines, that is all you need to play the game of volleyball. Anyway, we played an older team this time, and they played amazing defense and ended up beating us.
So game 3, we travel to a small gym, and we can see from the bus that the girls are already warming up. I decided to finally bring my camera for this game and get some game footage, so I am hoping to get that up on youtube eventually and I will post a link here. It was a really good game and we were all playing well. We had some great defense, our blocking was on and backrow was doing phenominal . We went back and forth: losing the first, winning the second, losing the third, and winning the forth. We made it to game 5! We hit a milestone haha. One of the youngest looking girls on the team had a mean topspin jumpserve, and gave us some trouble throughout the match. But we ultimately were able to pull out the win! So now the record for USA in Argentina is 1-2. We have game 4 tomorrow, and we are planning on evening it up!Today is sunday, and sunday in Argentina is mercado day! A certain part of town turns into a huge flea market selling new and antique items. I was able to buy my father his father´s day/birthday present (but I can´t say what it is because he will be reading this later haha). I was also able to purchase a Mate. A mate (MAT-E) is the name for the traditional drink and drinking cup used all over south america. It is, in most cases, a carved out gourd that is uaully covered with leather on the outside or some other decorational material. It is used for drinking a specific tea made from a plant that is grown in Brazil. The Mate comes with a sort of metal staw that contains a strainer on the bottom. The gourd is filled with raw tea 3/4 way, and then filled with hot water. I tried it not too long ago and it is very strong and bitter compaired to what we Americans are used to. They do not use sugar. But overall it was an enjoyable experience and I am glad to finally get my hands on one.
June 18 - Buenos Aires, Argentina SA - Hectic Schedule!
¡Hola! ?Como esta? Yo soy muy cantado.
My spanish is definitely being put to use here in Argentina! Just ordering lunch was a nightmare! Haha. Well hello and thank you for reading my blog. I sincerely apologize for already messing up on the whole "daily" thing. Let me just explain my first day and then I will onto today, which was actually yesterday since it is now....3:30 AM.
Yesterday, after a 10 hour flight we landed in Buenos Aires and was greeting with a warm welcome of medical paperwork and manditory facemasks that were to be worn at all times in the aeropuerte. After going through many checkpoints including a full body scanner that detected whether or not you came into the country with a fever, we met with our tour guides and soon after pilled onto a bus. There are 4 other teams here in Buenos Aires with us from the USA including one men´s basketball team and three women´s basketball teams.We were told while we were on the plane that we were going to be having a practice soon after we landed, which already sounded horrible after a 10 hour flight. Well, once we arrived and were packed onto the bus, we were told by our tour guides that everyone but volleyball had the day free, and that we had a match that evening. We freaked out! Partially because orf the lack of notification but mostly because we desperately needed the practice for one reason: we do not have a setter on our team. Our team consists of 6 middles, 2 outsides, 1 right side, and 1 defensive specialist. Crazy right?
So we really needed the practice not just to get used to each other but more importantly to find out who had good enough hands to set for us. We have found our setters now, but it took a bit of time, and losses. People don´t understand that the level of competition in the sport of volleyball is a lot higher in other parts of the world, and if you don´t believe me you will understand after I explain what happened in our first game. Our first game we had been warming up for about an hour and a half and a bunch of kids with knee pads walk into the gym. We thought, "Well they must be here to watch the match," and boy were we wrong. Those 15 and 14 year olds were our competition for the evening and boy did they make us work. The sets were close but we ultimately lost 3-1, need I remind you to 15 year olds haha.
Those girls play with a passion I have not seen from many even at the college level in america. Everytime the ball was thought to be down, it was up again. Those girls were diving everywhere! And for little girls, they were up there with our tallest players. Oh, by the way, I am one of the shortest girls on the team haha!
Moving on, I am not able to talk too much about tonight due to time constraints since I really need some sleep. Today was tour day, it started early and we toured a few cities in Argentina. We stopped in front of "The Pink House" which is where all the presidential work is done in Argentina. Nearby there was a very famous cathedral. This cathedral was ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS. Being an art major I see these things in class all the time, but to actually see it for the first time was absolutely amazing. Mosaic tiled floors, vaulted ceilings and beautiful paintings. We also arrived at the right time because there were some schools there on tour, and soon after we arrived, soldiers marched into the cathedral to a specific section that was gated. They performed a sort of, opening ceremony and opened the section to visitors. I am not sure what it was yet, but I got some great shots and I will be researching it at a later time. I might have just whitnessed what very few have.
So moving on, we toured many neighborhoods, and we were exposed to an extremely weird phenomenon. We were brought to one of the poorest cities in Argentina, and no lie - across the street was the most upscale town in the whole country. It is where the celebrities stay. I could not believe that such wealth and such lack thereof could literally be across the street from each other. There are slums here that are bigger than brevard and it is devastating. But it is something that is almost accepted because it is understood...? It´s hard to comprehend, the culture here is so different, but I will get more into that another day.
So we had a match tonight and we lost again 3-1, but this time it was to 19 year olds haha. These girls played AMAZING defense. Either way I am keeping my head up. I have been playing outside and I am loving it! My jumpserve has improved tremendously and I am just happy to be consistant at this point when the pressure of wearing USA is on my chest. I am also playing all the way around so I am getting my backrow experience that I so desperately need and my gosh, these girls hit hard. They knock me down with every dig! Well, time is up, it is now almost 4 AM and we are allowed to sleep in but I would like to check out more of the city in the morning. I hope to upload some pics tomorrow after my battery is completely charged.
June 12 - Spring Hill, FL - Preparing for an Adventure!
You know, packing has never been fun for me. It is always something I put off until the very last moment, a time when procrastination is my best friend. As if being a college student didn't have enough of that already. But this time, it's a new feeling. I can't help but think that every item I pack is extremely valuable, as if they themselves were guiding me to this adventure. I have been asked to write a sort of "preparation" blog and describe the feelings I am going through as I prepare for this trip. I am finding it hard to do so since I have never been so excited in my life before. People keep asking me if I am excited and I laugh everytime: What kind of a person would not be?
I am about to be in another country full of culture, people, and all sorts of new experiences just waiting for me to participate in. And what makes it best is that amidst all of these wonderful things I will be doing two things that I love doing more than anything else in the world! I will be playing the sport which has become my life's passion: VOLLEYBALL. And I will be given the opportunity to share that passion and love with kids.
Laughter, joy, passion, love. These are very powerful feelings, and they can change a persons life. We have all been given gifts to use in our own ways to change the world. Whether small, or big, every change is one step closer. Through volleyball I have met some amazing people, and some even more amazing children. These children have taught me that no matter what is going wrong in a person's life, just doing one thing you love can make you feel better. It's the ultimate prescription, and everyone's is different. To see the look in a child's eye when they learn a new skill, or do something that they couldn't in the past; the light bulb finally switches on! It's all priceless, and I wouldn't trade it for the world on a silver platter.
So yes, I AM EXCITED, BEYOND BELIEF! So much so that I don't even think it is going to hit me until I am in Argentina, on the court, wearing that jersey with those three small, but oh so mighty letters: U S A, across my chest. Only then will I get the full magnitude of how great this whole experience is going to be.