UWG Volleyball in Europe 2005: Journal Recap

Day One – March 18, 2005
By Jennifer Wells

The team met at the Atlanta Airport the night before we were to arrive in Munich.

Although we were told to sleep as much as we could, most of the team found it difficult to sleep on the airplane. We arrived in Munich around 8 o’clock am but with still a long day ahead of us. We met our tour guide, Cory, at the airport. We received our luggage and carried it to our first train.

We then went up and down what felt like 20 flights of stairs and 50 miles later we got to our second train. Boarding our that train is where the real experience began. We had to fight through skinny roads with a minimum of two bags apiece. Most of us ended up alone in carts full of Europeans.

We arrived Innsbruck Austria where Cory taught us the value of public transportation. We spent most of our day by tram or walking to where we needed to get.

After we settled into the hotel, we went to lunch as a team. Then we spilt into groups to see the town for ourselves. The best part about the town was the view of the Alps as a backdrop.

At this point we realized that we had been awake for more than thirty hours and it was definitely starting to hit us. After waking the town for a few hours it was time to get ready for practice. We met the VC Tirol volleyball team. Even the gym had a beautiful view of the mountain.

At practice we were exposed to a completely different style of play. The Austrian team proved to be very good competition and had unbelievable ball control and amazing hitting talent.

It was a great experience to see how even things such as sports vary so much in different cultures. The Austrian team was very hospitable and nice to tell us about their hometown. We even had trivia bonus points to learn more about each other’s countries.

After practice we met at a local restaurant where we exposed to a new type of food. While walking to the restaurant our coach greeted by a not so friendly dog, but it turned out okay.

Riding the train back to the hotel was an experience we won’t soon forget. Since we were with limited German speaking ability we had difficulty communicating with a local tram driver. As we arrived to the hotel we all went our separate ways and got some long needed rest.

Although the first day was long, we have started to learn more about the Austrian culture and everybody on the team is excited to see what other adventures are to come.

Day Two Journal
March 19, 2005
By Siha Collins

Wow, we’re all sitting here on a train speeding through the Austrian countryside and 16 girls are suffering from exhaustion, dehydration, or both.

We’ve already lived a lifetime in 48 hours! The shock of it all is quite amazing. The people, the food, the atmosphere is something we’ve all tried to imagine but could never really grasp. All of us are so different, but we all came to play volleyball, experience Europe, and definitely to celebrate it all.

Without realizing it, we’re slowly changing every minute. We smile a little bigger and laugh a little harder and oddly, feel a little smaller because we have finally stepped out of our world and into another.

Oh, it’s the same on the surface: the shopping mall on a Saturday afternoon, the Internet café downtown, the great restaurants, and the smoky little bars. But counting euro, struggling to get a glass of Faca Natural, and finally being the one with an accent suddenly turns your world upside-down, making you feel wonderful and scared all at once.

But it’s being a little scared that makes it even more special, like we are a little more brave than all those people who are back at home.

We’re all planners. We plan our outfits, tomorrow’s schedule, and who we’ll meet next. But right now it is blank. We can’t see the place and we don’t know the people. So we quietly sit back and wait for the experience to come to us.

It’s so easy but so hard to just let go! So, we sit here on our train, going someplace and no place at the same time. We think about the past (well, the part we can remember), but we prepare ourselves for an even better day. And we know that the only thing that will be the same is the uncertainty of it. But that’s what makes it so great.

Today we played TC Tirol, a 1st division Austrian team currently in 5th place. TC won the match 3-0 and we played two extra sets with TC won 2-0. However three sets were very close with scores of 25-23, 25-22 and 25-22.

Over the years TC has had 17 American players play professional volleyball for the club. That night, former Colorado State star Michelle Knox, currently playing for Salzburg came over to have dinner with the players and talk about living and playing in Europe.

Day Three
March 20, 2005
By Kristy Benowitz and Lauren Bright

Today was a long day. It began at 6 a.m. for our last breakfast in Innsbruck, Austria. We later loaded our many bags on Trolley #3 to the train station.

We traveled all through the country on a very nice train for two and a half hours. We met many interesting people on our journey like a young, skinny man named Urf. He was very helpful by explaining all the unknown landmarks to us Americans.

After the first train ride, we switched to another. Another two and a half later we moved to a very roomy bus with the nicest bus driver ever. He packed our entire luggage and helped us off.

We had two matches that day in Klangenfurt, Austria and played the number one national team, we lost. Later, we played the junior national team with ages ranging from 12 to 16, losing that one as well. Quite embarrassing, but we are in Europe so no worries.

After the matches we loaded the bus again and drove two hours to Maribor, Slovenia. We almost had a problem getting the whole team across the border. Kristy’s passport is about to expire in two weeks and some countries don’t allow people to enter with an expiration date within 3 months. It all worked out okay, and the 12 members of West Georgia Volleyball were able to enter Slovenia freely.

Our hotel was at the bottom of a mountain with a ski slope running right into the entrance of it. We have the day off tomorrow so the whole team will hit the slopes and go sledding at night. Many of the girls have never skied before so tomorrow should he interesting.

So far, this Europe adventure has been mind opening. The scene changes every day and so does our perspective on the different ways of life that share this Earth. As for now, it is time to have a good time and take it all in. Day three has come to an end.

Editors Note: After a long train ride West Georgia first had a match against Klagnefurt Wildcats, currently in 2nd place in first division Austria. Molly Sc, former University of Kansas Star plays for the Klagenfurt team so it was a neat experience for them to play against an American playing professional volleyball player in Europe. West Georgia played well, however they lost four sets.

After the first match, West Georgia had the opportunity to play against the Austrian Youth National team. They are in the process of preparing for the European Junior Championships later this month.

The Austrian team played real well and beat West Georgia 3-0 in the match. However it was a real positive experience for them to have the opportunity play against an actual youth National team.

Day Four
March 21, 2005
By Amy Lamparter and Stephanie Johnson

We started off our first full day in Slovenia with an amazing activity that many of us have not attempted before: skiing! After a long but relaxing ride up the mountain on the gondola, we were ready to go.

Most of us ate it in the snow at first, but after a while we got the hang of it and were even trying some tough runs. We skied for a couple hours and then took a break to eat lunch.

The place we ate at was on top of the mountain and famous for its hot wine and sausage. After eating, it was time to get back to the slopes. A big group of us decided to ski down the mountain, which was a great experience although there were quite a few wipeouts. Overall everyone did really well and our skiing adventure was a big success.

After skiing, we went to eat at a restaurant where they served us some of the most amazing pastas, pizzas, and salads. We left the restaurant anxious to go sledding.

The ride up the mountain, for some of us, seemed like we were riding to our death. We were all freaking out in the gondola because they hadn’t turned on the lights on the mountain. Finally, we got to the top of the mountain, and we are given our sled, and we are told that no matter what happens, we better hold on to that sled.

Let’s just say that was a little easier said than done. The first couple parts down the mountain were easy because they happened to be lit up and not too steep, but as we continued it became harder and harder.

At one point, we all thought we were going to end up sledding off the mountain because the snow was coming up and hitting us in the face. I know that when I couldn’t see anything or even open my eyes for that matter, I was wondering why I had gotten on that little plastic sled in the first place! The worst part for most people was when we had to walk across a part of the mountain that seemed like it was straight up and down.

The funniest part about the experience for me was how the instructors who helped us would talk to each other right before we were going to go down a new part of the mountain, and they would speak in Slovenian. Then they would turn to say and us something like, “Well, you can go down this, but be careful.” Something about it just wasn’t too comforting! It was kind of like they were scared we might die, but they figured they would just let us go anyway! The whole experience had us laughing at some points and almost wanting to cry at others. But when it was all over, no matter how much I hated that mountain while I was going down, I would not trade that experience for anything.

Day Five
March 22, 2005
By Stephanie Singleton and Megan Crumpton

Today was our second day of skiing, and half of the team went skiing and then into the city to shop. While in the city we ate at McDonalds and decided it was not a whole lot different in Europe. The meals in Europe are in smaller portions, and they charge for condiments and there are no free refills.

We shopped for about two hours and then returned back to the hotel for a nap before our match. We won our match against the Maribor Juniors and then went out to eat at a winery and the food was delicious.

We had the opportunity to taste wine from the oldest vineyard in Slovenia and also to eat traditional Slovenian food. At dinner we met some Slovenian teenagers. Their names are Nate, Nika, and Ana. We all thought it was one of the best meals we have had since we arrived in Europe.

After dinner we took the bus into the city and met up with some of the basketball players from the Slovenian team. They showed us around and introduced us to some Slovenian nightlife.

We stayed in the city for a few hours and then returned back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep. However when we arrived the door was locked and we could not get in. We stood outside and banged on the doors as loud as we could for about twenty minutes before we were finally let in.

So finally after our long day we were able to get some sleep. A few of the girls went out to a club called Trust with the basketball players. They said the club experience in Slovenia was very unique. They played Slovenian music and American music mixed with a techno beat.

They were having such a good time that they did not make it back to the hotel until 6 am. So finally at 6am everyone was in bed.

Editors Note: Tonight West Georgia played really well and defeated the Nova KBM Maribor Juniors team in three. This team is preparing to come to Salt Lake City in July for a large USA volleyball High Performance tournament so it was good for them to see American style volleyball.

Day Six
March 23, 2005
By Anna Gautreau, Jennifer Wells and Amy Lamparter

Today as we arose, we were beckoned to breakfast to depart on our journey to meet the Slovenj Grad volleyball team. Approximately forty-five minutes down the road we arrived at our destination.

First we met with the volleyball team and their tour guide who showed us around their city. The tour guide showed us a European Medieval Roman Catholic Church. He was very descriptive in telling us about the history of Slovenj Grad. Next we visited an art gallery of a very famous Slovenian artist who had a very interesting artistic style. Once exiting the gallery, we had some Kodak moments in front of iron horses. Then we went to lunch at an Italian restaurant where we finally decided that the Italian food is better in Slovenia than it is in America.

After lunch we viewed something that we never knew existed. Wearing slippers, we went into a church with glass floors. Underneath the floor we saw dead people, i.e., there were decayed bones. We also had a concert performed on the organ by Amy and Siha, with a special appearance from Coach Angela Langford. After the church we visited the ski jump and rode to lift to the top where we took in a breathtaking view of Slovenj Grad.

Next we went to the gym where we played a very competitive match against our new Slovenian buddies. We continued to hang out with the Slovenj Grad team and enjoyed a traditional Slovenian meal. To our pleasant surprise we learned how kind and friendly Slovenians are throughout our adventurous day.

Editors Note: Today was a very special day for the West Volleyball team. The team was hosted the entire day by the Mislinja volleyball club, a small town in Northern Slovenia. Mislanja is bringing a team to the USA in late April for a round of matches against top juniors team, so again it was a great experience for both teams. So far this was the best volleyball match of the tour as it went five sets right down the wire with Mislinja winning in five.

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