Hopewell Homecoming Celebration

Thank you to my hometown Hopewell for an amazing celebration event yesterday! It was inspiring to celebrate the journey of Team USA on 9/11. The true honor goes to the men and women who serve and protect our freedoms. 

When I think about my time at the Olympics, I specifically recall sitting next to the refugee team and realizing how honored I am to be from the United States. We may not get everything right here, but we do it much better than many places in the world.

Thank you to everyone in Pennsylvania and across the nation who has celebrated our team through the years, it's an honor to be from such an great state and to be able to share my experiences with everyone. 

Go USA!

Read more from The Times about the celebration: http://bit.ly/2cqaMxu
Photos by Matt Weigand for The Times

Part 10, Throwback to 2012, Harmottos in London

Hi ya!  Everyday we set out to experience something new in London, today was no exception.
 

We met our Olympian for lunch at the West field Mall in Olympic Park.  She looks great, ready, and happy to have some down time with Family.  She explains it has been business as usual in the Village; Gold Medalist's scurrying about.   GO TEAM USA!

The crew splits off, Nathan and Alyssa set out to take in some sightseeing. Rob and I return to the apartment to answer emails, Skype with coworkers and catch up on what is going on at home.  

Grandmother, Eric, Alexia, Emily, Rob and I see the Shrek Musical tonight.  Thoroughly enjoyable!  

Leicester Square is buzzing at 10 p.m., we grab some dinner, people watch, and set out to find a pub.  

Pubs close at 11, interesting.  On a street corner we are approached by a Security Officer offering to stamp our hand to allow complimentary entry to the Verve.  Where is the Verve, oh I hear it or should I say feel it (sidewalk is vibrating from the bass)  Oh what the heck, why not?   Packed house, we make our way on the upper level where we can watch the people down below get their groove on, no designated dance floor, even better.  Alyssa and Nathan give it a whirl.  Picture Nathan (the security team), Alyssa is hysterical!

 Nathan "we had the nerve for the Verve" 

Sightseeing in RIO

So named one of the new 7 wonders of the world, Christ Redeemer statue of Jesus,  takes residence in Rio de Janeiro on Mt. Corcovado.  The Roomies led by the day's tour guides, Lindsay and Nolan Roomie, set out to embark this must see.  We purchase our tickets for an 11:40 departure and make use of our three hour wait with a jaunt down to Café Secreto,  (pronounced like cigarette with an o on the end) for the "best coffee in Brasil"  As we make our way down the hill in this early hour we experience a different scene in RIO. the city is waking up, people bustling, tree lined streets, strolling babies, runners, commuters, church bells, taxis picking up and dropping off, the sound of buses breaking for it's passengers, people meeting for coffee, for breakfast....and all this is being highlighted by the beauty of the shinning sun...

This alley shows off the small businesses, art galleries, and Cafe Secreto that juts out of it

This alley shows off the small businesses, art galleries, and Cafe Secreto that juts out of it

Local art displayed on the walls along the streets  

Local art displayed on the walls along the streets  

We order a round of "caps" and take in this quiet little space in the middle of this bustling city. 

A look inside Cafe Secreto  

A look inside Cafe Secreto  

After our time there, we taxi up for our departure to the top. 

The views from the train come and go quickly, you  have to be ready with your camera. 

View from the train  

View from the train  

Everyone takes turns taking picture on the steps with the redeemer statue in the back  

Everyone takes turns taking picture on the steps with the redeemer statue in the back  

We arrive at the platform to step off and begin our ascent to the top...with each overlook we step out in awe.  We reach our summit to lift our eyes up even further at the statue that stands 38 meters which I think converts to almost 125 feet. From here, we can see it seems all of RIO, each beach, each mountain peak, the bay, the ocean...beautiful.

View from the top  

View from the top  

Part 9, Throwback to 2012, Harmottos in London

August 5th 2012- Alyssa

The blog torch has been handed on—Alyssa’s turn now.

To have the full effect of the trip, we suggest reading in a British accent.

Today was a great day for many reasons. We all started out the morning with some Starbucks and croissants. The family headed on the tube down to Piccadilly to meet Alexia, Emily and Uncle Eric. We had a “splendid time” browsing shoppes, sites, and restaurants. After indulging at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant, we sat in the courtyard of St. Paul’s with Londoners and pigeons. Alexia and Emily took pictures of everything in the garden as well as the pigeons, who have all been individually named—Carl, Rodney, Eileen, the gang was all there. There was quite a show in front of St. Paul’s church—a man bared pink spankies and juggled a chainsaw. Quite funny, quite absurd, however it was a unique and fun experience.

Coach (Rob) guided us safely to Earl’s Court. Internal GPS—who knows where we would be without him! After our arrival, we waited to be seated in the stadium. USA vs. Turkey. An exciting game. Section 109 held it’s own. We have some pretty animated, dedicated, and proud fans. And all friends and family have much to be proud of, the team finished 3-0 against Turkey with great contributions from each player. Christa had an amazing match, and the team in its entirety kicked some major butt.

After the game, we trekked back to the homestead—Bond Street tube stop, turn right at the Gap. Don’t you forget it!  We searched far and wide for sustenance, but to no avail. We settled for Tresco pizzas, cheese and brewskis. I wouldn’t say we were settling though, all we needed was some pizza and laughs and we’re golden.

Tomorrow will bring good memories as well. Tune in.

Cheerio.

A day for the golfers-Rob

On our way  

On our way  

Well, with so many golfers among the Dietzen/Harmotto group here in Brazil, Scott, Derek, Nolan, and myself, decided on an off day from volleyball to go out and take in the third round of the first Olympic golf played as an official event since 1904.  Our two groups hail from the Spokane WA area and Western Pa, both rural suburban areas that boast open areas and many golf courses.  Being in Rio for over a week, the urban congested areas of Brazil were all we had seen.  We set out at 10 am to go to the new course built just for the Olympic games, a very nice course in good condition, with undulating greens and challenging for the golfers, even though Sergio Garcia of  Spain yelled at a groundskeeper after a bad shot out of the sand, "The Worst Sand Ever", and tossed his club, temper temper Sergio.  Most of all it was nice to be in an open area with green grass and no concrete, and we were very close to some of the top golfers in the world.  This new course was built in a low lying area where wet marshy areas were filled in, so as we were walking around the perimeter of the course I will admit the word ZIKA was on our minds for the first time. Derek had just texted Christa to let her know we were all attending golf, and the first text back from her was " You Better Have Bug Repellent On!", we had a laugh and Derek assured her he did.

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One other thing was somewhat comical to us throughout the day, was the lack of "Golf Etiquette" from many spectators.  It was a constant struggle for the officials to SHHHH people and stop people from walking near participating golfers, as well as talking loud on cell phones.  We really enjoyed a great day at the course though, and shared a few laughs as well.   Rob


 

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Game day...USA vs. Serbia

I know I can't put it any better than this...quote from Christa:

"Congratulations to Serbia. They played a phenomenal match. That’s the best I’ve seen them play defense. They seemed to have a solid game plan. They are a great ...team.

We’re two of the best teams in the world and we are going to expose all the weaknesses. I love the way that girls can come off the bench and be called to do any number of things. It was tough when Foluke went down. I think we were a little distracted there for a second just because we care so much for her. Obviously we wanted to turn this around for her and for everybody that’s a part of this program. We have a chance in the next 48 hours to do so.

This one stings for sure. But we had a great example set for us. Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross responded really well after their semifinal loss so we plan to take that same approach. Of course, yes, the next hour or so there is some grieving. But then we will see after 10 p.m. tonight who we will face in the bronze-medal match. We’re going after the bronze. That’s our next goal."

 

Part 8 Throwback to 2012, Harmottos in London

August 4, 2012- Game Day USA vs Serbia

Family on game day!

Family on game day!

Nathan and Alyssa arrived this morning.  That brings the Family Fan Team to 9.  It's great to have them all here with us.  Alyssa, Alexia, and I went for a stroll and had lunch in an outdoor cafe all the while speaking like the British.  The weather has been perfect.  

After a nap for the new arrivals, we were ready to head out to watch USA vs. Serbia.  We arrive to Earl's Court early and go to a local pub for a pint and an appetizer.  Neat little place filled with antiques and big windows that swing out to flower boxes.  We met the Hodges there and reassembled theSecurity team with the newest member, Nathan, he is much more interested in making us laugh by directing us around each corner with his pants yanked up high, butt out and his arms circling wildly and hollering HURRY-THIS WAY THE TUBE IS LEAVING!   

USA defeats Serbia in 3.  Go Team USA! After the game, family can go to an area in the venue and spend time with their athletes before they board the team bus for the Village.  A friend from back home, John and a few of his friends from the Netherlands came back with us, as well as Christa's friends/teammate from Italy.  I would estimate that there are probably around 70 people (close family & friends) total in this section tonight.  Two of the USA players have little ones so it is always nice to see them interact with their Mommy's.  The babies are decked out in red, white, and blue and have their Mommy's number on their t-shirt.  Really sweet.  

Christa is happy to see her brother, Nathan.  She picks up her Italian when speaking with her Italy friends.  We snap some pictures, exchange hugs, say goodbyes and on the Tube we go.  Restaurants line the street near our apartment, tonight we decide to try one-an Italian restaurant with outdoor seating.  The eight of us eat and talk until around 1:00 a.m. , these little ones are troopers! 

Around town in RIO

The Roomies are off...off to an adventure of celebration of wins and birthdays, taking tourist sites and getting credentialed at the Asics House...✅

Our morning selfie...heading out to celebrate Nolan's birthday...

Morning pic of the roomies

Morning pic of the roomies

Planes trains and automobiles...no really Ubers, subways, and buses !  

Planes trains and automobiles...no really Ubers, subways, and buses !  

First stop, the Asics House, so not only does each country have a hospitality house, athletic companies do as well.  Christa is sponsored by Asics so we can be a guest there.  They serve drinks and gourmet food in a relaxing atmosphere.  Here is a inside look at the space they have in RIO.  They found this space on the outskirts of RIO and created a space for relaxing...check it out

Poolside with life size viewing on the big screen TV! 

Poolside with life size viewing on the big screen TV! 

This night view picture doesn't actually do the real view justice!

This night view picture doesn't actually do the real view justice!

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This space sits out over a little lake where two black swans take residence, they wouldn't show up on the picture but they were beautiful. 

Lindsay and Hannah showing off their VIP credentials

Lindsay and Hannah showing off their VIP credentials

Mishal and Nolan posing for a pic  

Mishal and Nolan posing for a pic  

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After USA's win against Japan-Team Dietzen heads to the Churrascaria Palace for family time and celebration of Scott and Nolan's birthday.  This is the second trip to this eatery...it is that good! 

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We start the with the evenings signature drink, a Caipirinha, made with fresh lime, sugar, Cachaca (a Brazilian liquor), ice.  The bartender gave us a lesson on how to...in a cocktail shaker you add 1  lime cut up-mashed with sugar, lots of sugar like two dumps of it, fill the shaker with the cachaca and ice and shake...tart, sweet, cold, refreshing, yum...cheers!

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We are shown to our table of nine with our athlete in tow, hey guess who is in the "house" again...Mike Tirico, and before I heard it I said it "hey, you're back" and he's like ya, you guys too!  I mean you take a pic with a celeb and eat at the same restaurant twice, it's like we are good ole pals...I mean or at least through the lense of the Caipirinha....  he is very gracious and comes by our table later.

So we are seated and start rev up our palate with the "salad bar" which is nothing like the salad bar this salad bar consist of delicacies for every palate... sushi, capris salad, cheeses, olives, nuts, greens, breads, hot/cold soups...so good so fresh! Then starts the seafood, the prime cuts of meat, the grilled vegetables, Magnifico!

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Wine for the table-it's a birthday celebration for Scott and Nolan!!! Later, someone comes by with a hand held barrel of the Cachaca where shots are being poured...what?....oh boy..when in RIO...celebrate!

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So the night continues with a trip to the Copacabana Palace Gelato Shop...then we take in a dance party at the beach...fun!

Dance party at Copacabana Beach

Dance party at Copacabana Beach

~a good night indeed

Connie

 

 

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Part 6, Throwback to 2012, Harmottos in London,

Hi there.  Today was a free day for us but nonetheless exciting.   First it starts with a celebrity spotting in the Family House.  Giada De Laurentiis from the Food Network was in the salon. I am sitting waiting for Grandmother to finish getting primped-and I see this person getting their hair styled thinking to myself that she looks familiar-but not sure why-then I see her husband and I know it is her, I must be a big fan when I recognize the husband, right.  So I look closer and confirm.  I am going to position myself so that I can tell her how I love her show and she is the reason why I have a dish of coarse salt by my stove.  She walks my way and I take my chance.  "Hi I just want to tell you I love your show and what an inspiration you are to me in Italian cooking" she spends the next 10 minutes talking to me, we converse about our daughters, her work, she introduces me to her husband, he tells me he is from Northern Michigan and didn't know much about volleyball til he moved to California, I think he went to UCLA, I told them how the USA is favored, that Christa plays professionally in Italy-she knew exactly where it was.  She is working on the Today show for the Olympics.  I am so glad I took the chance, she was so nice, very kind, and just as beautiful in person.    

Nolan wins tickets the night before in the Family House (P&G), yes Shawn Johnson pulls his name out of the drawing for swimming tickets-I think she thinks he's cute but he is too shy to talk to her.  Nolan has to leave us today so he can be ready to report to football camp atUniversity of Dayton.  I am so glad he could be here to experience this with us if even for a short time, it's only right he has been following his sister's dream from the beginning.  High School, Junior National Team, recruiting trips, (I think he might have been on every one of them), Penn State, Anaheim, Italy, and now the pinnacle.  He has been such a huge supporter not just in the stands, but in the quietness of our Family.   

The tickets are for some of the final swimming events tonight.  The tickets get us into Olympic Park-normally one would have to buy day passes to see that.  Olympic park is where the Olympic Stadium is (opening and closing ceremonies) and also the venues for the basketball, aquatics, and BMX. We get to our seats, they have a sign on them, RESERVED big timelol!  We sit down to watch Allison Schmitt win the Gold and set the Olympic record in the 200m freestyle!  She was born in the North Hills.  The atmosphere is loud, rows of media and TV cameras, it's awesome!  We watch Michael Phelps win Silver in the Fly.  I was so impressed by him tonight during the medal ceremony-he was so gracious to the Gold and Bronze winners.  A close up is shown of the South African that wins the Gold-he just beats Michael Phelps-can't imagine what he is feeling-wiping his tears-I start crying-I know it's not the US but I am so happy for him!  

 The USA Men's Relay wins gold medal and Michael Phelps becomes the most decorated Olympic Athlete in history!  After the medal ceremony, they begin playing Born in the USA-what an atmosphere!  China's fans sitting in the row in front of us turn around and clap to us when the USA swimmers are announced during the medal ceremony, we offer to photograph each others family holding up their countries flag-the crowd when Great Britain placed in the events in front of their fans, in their country.  It's great to be hereto be a part of everything

a side trip...a perspective

This story took place on the first day we got here...posting to the blog today.

August 5, 2016...So, we, the roomies continue on this journey armed with bug repellent and our new found “street smarts” breathing a little bit easier by the news our new friend brings. 

Actually with all this, I am feeling my sense of adventure loosen…we grab a bite to eat at a little Italian restaurant and the group decides to make our way to the P & G House (Procter & Gamble). 

Our mode of travel today, the bus line along the beach, (Karla said it is safe), we solicit help from a local hotel staff…they negotiate for us with the driver of 538-Leme and we are on our way.  I decide to pull up the destination on my google maps just to be sure… my maps app assures me that we are headed in the right direction…As we pass through the streets I notice the favelas (a Brazilian shanty town) in the hills…I first learned of these places on the travel channel with Anthony Bourdain and then once I had a conversation on a plane with a young lady (American) that studied in RIO…I am curious about these things-I can't help it!

I lean back to Mishal and whisper…I wonder how you get up to those places…not actually wanting to go just wandering at what the “point of entry” is…we move along the streets…my attention is averted above as we spot the Christ the Redeemer, the Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ.  It’s all alone on the mountain, I am captivated by it…I try to take pictures through the buildings, the wires, all along while swaying through the streets at pace to our destination, we stop for passengers, the bus fills. 

We begin our ascent, winding through narrow streets with high stone walls covered with ivy and moss, to the right I can see glimpses the favelas…we continue to wind until we come to the “point of entry we are in the favelas…we, the roomies, are quieted, all of us, no doubt sharing the same thoughts of “what if” scenarios playing in our mind, no doubt the same prayers going up at a clip, time seems to be suspended…our bus driver seems to turn in to a bus driving super hero has he navigates the narrow streets with oncoming buses, motorcycles, people, just to navigate the narrow streets the buses trade lanes…traffic laws need not apply…a sense of urgency almost…there is no backing up to navigate…it’s a constant moving forward and moving fast.   I look over at Hannah and Hannah and I am feeling a real responsibility for their lives, you see, I am the one that led the charge on the bus travel and to say the least- I think I may have just gotten fired! 

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As we start our descent, Mishal leans up to me with a lightness in her voice and says “well, Connie, you just said you were wondering how you get up there” I am relieved by her grace…

I am thinking that I would welcome that the “worse” thing that could happen would be that our luggage would be lost, or our apartment would be subpar, or that my goodness there wouldn’t be a Starbucks around the corner, or there might be plastic bags floating in the bay, or I forgot my phone charger, or I am inconvenienced by this or that, or I am offended by this or that….

…or that I got on a bus that rode me through the lives that our “worse things” would be their “best things”

As we make our way off the bus I am thinking this is the most of appropriate times to sing the song “Three Cheers for the Bus Driver” we thank him, he smiles…we are back…while I am not discrediting the peril of what could have been, but I am wondering...that the best thing for all of us…was that bus ride. 

~Connie

Sunday morning...a time of reflection and thanksgiving

The Roomies assemble this morning for a time of devotion led by Scott, and we look in the Word of  God and His promises.  These verses are at the forefront in our hearts and leads us to prayer...for Christa, for Team USA, for the families, for the Roomies, for Brasil

The beauty of Creation in Brasil

The beauty of Creation in Brasil

Philippians 4: 6-8 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8: 22-29 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

So we pray and our prayers of thanksgiving are lifted-we pray for the way God protected Christa in all her foreign travel and places of professional teams, for the platform she has been given to shine His light, for the beauty of His creation in this place, for the healing of injuries and surgeries, for her husband-her companion, for hearts to be softened, for opportunities to be seen and acted upon, for relationship, for focus on the things above, for encouraging words to be spoken, for blessings of resources that allowed us to experience this, for His faithfulness as we look back and all the times He has had His hand on her, on us...Amen

~Connie

 

 

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Part 7 Throwback to 2012 Harmottos in London

Bloggin from Alexia, August 1st 2012

More USA fans arrived yesterday, Eric, Alexia, and Emily game to cheer the USA.  I asked Alexia if she would like to write the blog today-so here she is! 

Hello chaps! Alexia here, I’m writing the blog today! I came to London Wednesday morning 7:00 am in London, 1:00 am eastern time, traveled to the house we’re staying at, slept for about 4 hours and went to Christa’s 8:00 pm game. The game was USA vs China, USA won, yay! During the game I was very excited being in the actual Olympic Volleyball arena. We waved our bobble head of Christa and held up our Go USA! signs. When the game was over we went to see Christa, and got to hang out with her for a bit before she had to leave. 

We stayed the night at the apartment and Thursday morning got ready, and left to go sightseeing. We went walking across the London Bridge, right before it fell down.  Aunt Connie and I then started speaking in our British accents to see how long we could speak it. We kept it up all day.  Aunt Connie even ordered her coffee with the accent. After we finished our picture taking, we walked on the river walk, to the Tower Bridge and took some pictures of the Olympic rings suspended from the Tower Bridge . We walked on the other side of the river back to go to the Tower of London. When we got to the Tower of London we took a tour through. At first we walked with the group but we then decided that since we couldn’t hear the chap that was our tour guide, we decided to take our own tour. It was a very interesting tour. I learned a lot about London history on that tour. I think Aunt Connie and I both fancied the Royal Beasts exhibit the best.  It talked about how there were once actual animals given as gifts to the king. They had kept the animals in that very room. There used to be polar bears, lions, snakes and various other animals for 600 years. Eventually they decided to move them to the zoo because a lot of people were getting hurt.

Later we went to the P&G house, we ate, went to the salon where I got my hair done, and nails painted in red white and blue. They took pictures of me after my makeover everyone was very nice there and I loved it! After the salon we went down to the man cave and watch USA men’s volleyball defeat Brazil. Go USA! We had a great day and are looking forward to tomorrow. Alexia signing out-Cheers!

When in RIO..

Today we add a few more to our "Roomies" Scott: Father in Law of Christa, great to have him join the team, great person,  great perspective, Lindsay: Sister in Law of Christa, she is now the flag carrier taking the place of Hannah P that had to return to life in the states, Lindsay the first Dietzen fan of Christa and USA Volleyball ...way back...briefed her brother before their first date ...Nolan: Brother of Christa, has been supporting his sister since her days at Our Lady of Fatima second grade basketball team, calls his sister Chri, pronounces Cree, both Christa's brothers have attended all her highschool and most of her states and international tournaments since the Junior National Team,  went on all her college recruiting visits and her college NCAA finals and visited her overseas while playing professionally, they are so proud of her!

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 The Roomies make their way over to the stadium to cheer USA on against Italy...Team USA fights their way through 4 games against Italy-team work, skill, tenacity win out! 

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We get some family time in and the "midnight marauders" they are calling themselves, take in beach volleyball game....

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enter in their leader...Rob "Without getting into detail of how the opportunity for tickets to USA beach volleyball came about, let's just say about 7 pm after many in our group had just traveled for over 24 hours to join us in Rio, someone asked what time does USA Kerry Walsh Jennings and April Ross play? The answer was "midnight", ouch many of us just looked at each other, and within seconds we had 4 say "I'm in".   We headed off at 11pm , luckily the venue built just for beach volleyball is just a few short blocks away from our apartment on Cococabana beach.  What a great atmosphere, you walk to the venue in sand, you go through security in the sand, 10 foot waves crashing in the background, so cool!   Anyway we head up the portable grandstands to our seats that were pretty high, but great to see all that was happening, loud vibrant music constantly, announcers getting the crowd into it, high intensity roaming spotlights even out on the waves crashing next to the venue.  What a great Olympic experience!  Then we get to watch probably the greatest beach player of all time work her magic with her newest teammate April Ross.  I can't say enough about how good a player Kerry Walsh is!  The plays she made were incredible, her anticipation of what's going to take place before it actually does is something to see for sure!  Then you say to yourself she is playing at this Olympic level at 37 years old, and after also having three children.  Just so you know, I like Michael Phelps, and think he was worthy of carrying the USA flag in the opening ceremonies, but I voted for Kerry Walsh Jennings, and am glad I did, she is incredible.  They beat Italy easily 2-0, and advanced in the medal round.  We made it back to the apartment at 1 am, and crashed!  What a great Olympic moment!" ~Rob

And that folks is a wrap-Good Night~Connie

 

Game day...

Today we match up with Serbia...Team USA is ready!  The Roomies Uber over to the stadium.  Uber is the preferred method of travel here in RIO, the drivers are great and the phone app is beyond efficient-it tells you the name of your driver, the license plate number of the car, the time of arrival of your driver. 

Team USA ready to rumble!

Team USA ready to rumble!

Game Time...The Roomies are ready!

Game Time...The Roomies are ready!

Oh let me back up a bit-so we meet a woman from homeland security yesterday at the P & G house, she tells us there are over 1000 undercover agents working in RIO, apparently we are not safe anywhere, she tells us not to have your cell phone out in public, she tells us not to resist the muggers, she tells us we are not safe outside the stadium, in the streets, in Ubers, taxis, or the favelas too late lady been there done that and according to her we are lucky to be alive. oh, I should probably post that.

 Today is a light traffic day and we make it to the stadium in 38 minutes-WPXI is waiting outside of Gate C to interview Rob and I.  We make our way into the stadium, again, the atmosphere is so great!  Team USA is ready!

Love our #13! Biggest fans!

Love our #13! Biggest fans!

My Ponytail Girl...love to see the smile on her face in uniform, doing what she loves!

My Ponytail Girl...love to see the smile on her face in uniform, doing what she loves!

Before game time today, I meet Karen Zando.  Karen Zando was the chaplain in the Olympic Village in 2012 and met Christa in London.  She explains that she was so moved by Christa's testimony that year and has been following her blog and story since.  Karen so happens to be from Pittsburgh, she is with Athletes in Action and started with Campus Crusade. She is currently serving in Orlando with a professional women's soccer team.  It was so great to meet her and I am looking forward to getting together with her when she returns to Pittsburgh. 

With Karen Zando-Athletes in Action! Chaplain of the 2012 London Games in the Village A look inside the P&G House

With Karen Zando-Athletes in Action! Chaplain of the 2012 London Games in the Village

A look inside the P&G House

24 hour service, it's true says it here in big bold letters!

24 hour service, it's true says it here in big bold letters!

The man cave-shave and haircuts for men-ladies welcome too!

The man cave-shave and haircuts for men-ladies welcome too!

USA Family Pic

USA Family Pic

Full service buffet for lunch and dinner-not just any ole buffet, food is fresh, healthy, and tasty! Thank you P&G!

Full service buffet for lunch and dinner-not just any ole buffet, food is fresh, healthy, and tasty! Thank you P&G!

Big screen TV's on every wall and space to watch the other games and Olympic coverage with family and friends 

Big screen TV's on every wall and space to watch the other games and Olympic coverage with family and friends 

Ladies, P&G's salon, hair, make up, and nails....

Ladies, P&G's salon, hair, make up, and nails....

Views from the roof top patio at the P&G House

Views from the roof top patio at the P&G House

After our win we enjoy some family time with our athletes! 

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Good Night from RIO~Connie

full packed day with ...air time...fame time...game time

Air Time-Good Morning...an action packed day starting with on the set of the Today Show, well in audience at least.  The Roomies venture off at 7:30 a.m. to get their place in the audience of the Today Show.  It's pretty exciting to get an inside look at the workings of the show.  I am amazed at how professional the staff is while keeping it light and friendly with one another and with the audience.  Al, Hoda, Matt, and Billy make there way through the crowds lined up, taking selfies, holding babies, laughing and joking with one another and the audience.  It looks like a lot of fun! I am determined to get the USA Volleyball sign on TV and I have heard it was a success!

Set of the Today Show from RIO

Set of the Today Show from RIO

Having fun, keeping it light! 

Having fun, keeping it light! 

So I ask Hoda, if our group can get a selfie with her and she enthusiastically says sure!... then she looks straight at me and says-Hey! your sign has been all over the air today!  I just laugh to myself and do a fist pump in my head that the USA Volleyball Sign made it-mission accomplished!  Then Hoda proceeds to take my phone and selfies us...she snaps several pics, she obviously knows the drill!

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Ok...wow! this is easy....Snap! Al Roker!

My new friend, Kevn photo bombed us...that's ok though...we are all Team USA! 

My new friend, Kevn photo bombed us...that's ok though...we are all Team USA! 

Striking a pose with the "Golden Girls" here to support Team USA and the Rugby Team! 

Striking a pose with the "Golden Girls" here to support Team USA and the Rugby Team! 

The Roomies have a 12:00 appointment at the USA House.  The USA House is a venue that holds events for US Athlete's and their families.  It is different from the P & G house in that it is limited to an event by sport, meaning we can't visit everyday just on the days it is holding an event for our particular sport, and today is volleyball and a few others. 

Fame time-The USA house is also the place where medalist and their families are honored.  Today, it so happens we meet a gold medalist for swimming...enter Ryan Held, Gold Medalist, 4x100 m Free Style Relay.  Hannah Palochak is star struck no doubt...well we all are actually.  She wants his picture and she and Hannah are planning on how to best do that...and I am thinking...it has been my experience that the Olympic athletes are humble and appreciative of their fans, that they know the value of hard work, know the value of family, know the value of others, know the value of being on the world platform they have been given...Ryan is no exception...he is happy to snap a picture with Hannah, when I tell him she swims for the University of Akron, he shifts his attention to her and wanting to know more about that.....class act of humility! Congratulations Ryan & Team USA! 

Hannah-your whole self is smiling! 

Hannah-your whole self is smiling! 

Fame Time-We meet up with Matt Anderson, USA Men's Volleyball Player, he played volleyball at Penn State, and a very successful international player.   This time, Hannah Dietzen is working on her approach and a picture with him.  I lead the charge with confidence of our last encounter-not disappointed in the least.  I introduce myself holding out my hand and telling him I am Christa's mom, he puts down his hand and says "oh, well then give me a hug" how sweet-see we are family so easily connected...so fun, so special! Thank you Matt!

Hannah, Hannah, and Matt Anderson

Hannah, Hannah, and Matt Anderson

Moms and that at the USA House

Moms and that at the USA House

Outside the USA House

Outside the USA House

Game Time-Rob leads the charge with a dozen and 1/2  in tow to the Metro Station as we make our way to the stadium.  We are playing the Netherlands and they are good! This is the Netherlands first Olympic appearance in 20 years. 

The USA takes the Netherlands in 5. 

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After the game, we have more family time together at a little restaurant around the corner from the team hotel.  Christa's team is not in the Olympic Village, it is too far from the venue they play their games.  They are being well cared for and protected in their temporary Olympic home.  By the way, the food in Brazil is excellent, they take a lot of pride in their cooking and it shows.  The dinner hour is dinner hours-no rush-it's a time a family and togetherness...I like that. 

~Connie

 

Part 4, Throwback to 2012, Harmottos in London

July 30th 2012

Good Morning All,

We had another family fan arrive yesterday.  Uncle Alec traveled from the U.S. to take a picture with his niece to prove to his coworkers that he his indeed the Uncle of an Olympian.  Apparently they don't believe him.  
The athletes get a block of time for family on days when they are not playing, but it is more important that they rest and relax too.  We met Christa for lunch at the Westfield Mall outside of the Olympic Village. Ahhh we found the people.  Seems to be where the tourist are hanging out, a lot of people but very well controlled.  As soon as we see Christa we get our cameras out because we want to catalog and remember every moment with her there- immediately a line forms and other fans wait for their photo op.  Wow.  She obliged and then we were off to lunch.  There are many athletes in this area-once in a while you recognize one and if you don't know them by name, you can tell by the way they carry themselves, so respectable, so confident, they're special.  

Christa tells us of some of her experiences in the Olympic Village and Opening Ceremonies.  How she and a teammate were excited to see Diane Taurasi in the village, remembering how she was their hero when they were growing up.  In the opening ceremonies line up, they posed with the men's basketball team.

We shopped a little after lunch-she helped her Nolan pick a souvenir for a friend, help Grandmother pick out shoes-always making what little time she has for us.
At one point from a distance,  I watch two little boys (around 9yrs.) approach Christa, they ask her for pictures and ask her questions-she answers and then turns her attention completely to them, asking them about school, activities,  and sports they play or like.  Those moments are so great to me, realizing what a positive impact she has on people.  How athletes have that ability

Out and about in RIO...meeting with some very special people

Good morning from RIO, recording some great moments from yesterday for all of us. We started the day with a visit from our athlete, she ubered down with another team mate to our apartment.  It was great to visit with her and she of course made sure we, the roomies,  were all inline-she made sure we weren't drinking the tap water and that we were using the bug repellent, that we weren't wearing expensive jewelry, we weren't even permitted to bring it, that we were eating well and drinking our water...she get's her title "mom" from her teammates earnestly. 

Christa outfitted us with Aasic Shoes for the trip!

Christa outfitted us with Aasic Shoes for the trip!

Off for an Acai bowl with Sarg! 

Off for an Acai bowl with Sarg! 

We set out for a walk together for an Acai bowl and felt like I had the secret service ("mom")with me...every time I took out my camera or fell behind a little with the group she hovered over me and clicked her heels for me to fall in...I know we were in good hands...a side note, she and her team were trained in self defense from a navy seal before coming to RIO. 

Rob and Hannah set off for the Olympic Swimming Event. Hannah is a swimmer at the University of Akron. 

Tickets and American Flag in hand...off to an Olympic Swimming Event

Tickets and American Flag in hand...off to an Olympic Swimming Event

Later we all met up at the P & G house and mingled with some really special people...we met David and Ferby Higgins from San Clemente California, they are parents of David Higgins, Jr. a sharp shooter competing in the games.  David and I struck up a conversation about the coffee at the P & G house and it turns out David is originally from Weirton, WV, a Steeler fan, he knew all about Aliquippa and it's athletes...  We invited them to our table and really enjoyed talking to them. Look for David in the 50m Riffle Prone Men on August 12th. 

Ferby and David Higgins (Steeler Fan) parents of the Olympic athlete, David Higgins, Sharp Shooter in the 50m Prone Men  

Ferby and David Higgins (Steeler Fan) parents of the Olympic athlete, David Higgins, Sharp Shooter in the 50m Prone Men  

Anyone recognize this man...world renowned gymnastic coach, Bela Karolyi, coach of Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug, just to name a few.  Rob points him out to us and recalls the heart felt moment that he carried Kerri Strug off the mat after she competed on an injured ankle...Rob, you would remember that, you told it like it happened yesterday...

Hannah, Bela, Hannah

Hannah, Bela, Hannah

The Hannah's go over and ask him for a picture and he obliges.  It seems to me that he has a beautiful spirit...Hannah concurs.

 

Rob shaking hands with Bela. A moment in history for Rob, I'm sure of it. 

Rob shaking hands with Bela. A moment in history for Rob, I'm sure of it. 

~Connie

Part 3, Throwback to 2012, Harmottos in London

July 29, 2012 Game Day

Hi Ya! (that's a typical greeting here in England, I love it)  Well today is the big game day.  Picked up our tickets and just chilled til it was time to leave, advised to be at the venue 2 hours before starting time to allow for security and transit.  We left 3 hours just to be sure.  Traveling with the Hodges is awesome camaraderie, also an added bonus, Mr. Hodge 6' 6", Rob 6'4" and Nolan 6'3" is a pretty intimidating force for any potential trouble makers.  Needless to say, I feel very safe traveling at midnight on the Tube.

Messages on facebook-we will be watching, so proud of her, Go Team USA, tears in my eyes,  we are so proud, sending our love, she is so awesome, Hopewell is watching, Penn State proud.....Social Media in it's finest.  Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts! 

Game time-We arrive at the Earl's Court, (the volleyball venue for the Olympics) in plenty of time, security is premium, get in our seats, with our signs and we are ready!  Ayoola and Comfort Akinradewo were to the left beside us.  Comfort and I got our cheer down! we had a two sided sign so I would put the side with GO TEAM USA and she would hold up the side USA VOLLEYBALL. We met a very nice gentleman from England sitting in the row in front of us-he wanted to know all about Danielle Scott Aruda being the 5 time Olympian, so I love all these girls like my daughters, so I was happy to oblige with pride.  Then I pointed out Christa and Foluke and our new friend always turned around when they made a huge play! Neat!  
After the team introduction-game time-introduction did not evoke any emotions, hmm.  Christa on the court, I'm thinking, I love that kid, my little pony tail girl grown up to be a woman and she is gone in a blink of any eye, song that reminds me.  Then Christa goes back to serve and I hear the announcer say "Christa Harmotto serving for the United States." Then it hit me and emotions welled-The United States. The United States.  She is representing the United States!   

...continue Game Day

At 2:45 exactly, Team Dietzen starts to make their way to the stadium, our mode of travel-the Metro-we are taking the red line to Centre and catching the green line to the Maracana'zinho Arena, sounds simple enough...and I have complete confidence in our fierce leader, Team Dietzen Dad, Rob.

#13's Dad

#13's Dad

Team Dietzen 13

Team Dietzen 13

Destination-

Destination-

Now, I don't know about you but the subway system always gives me a moment of pause, maybe it's because of all the Bourne movies or I think some heinous crime is going to take place when I am on it, or someone is going to pic pocket me, or I am going to get some airborne disease from the crowd, or the system gets messed up and we meet another tram head on, or we accidently catch it to a dead end... and well it's not like you can get off it anytime you want...anyway my moment of pause is over and I/we step on.  We get off the redline and look for the green line and there is some confusion of where the green line is, some tell us to take a train, some tell us that tram isn't running today.... oh and here's the thing...I guess the Metro System "high ups" can decide that some days certain trams aren't going to run and it doesn't matter what is listed on your darn Metro Guide that is published all over the city folks and you are holding every word in it like you would your bible-because today the Metro System "high ups" changed their mind....I know this sounds like a rant and it probably is but it's really just an observation and an amusing one at that.  Let me say that after talking to 3 different Metro helpers we are straightened around and heading in the right direction to the green line.

Safe and sound on the Metro-like some thrill ride at an amusement park...my tshirt could read I survived the subway system in RIO!

Safe and sound on the Metro-like some thrill ride at an amusement park...my tshirt could read I survived the subway system in RIO!

By the way-security everywhere and people to assist you everywhere!  Great job again RIO!

Friendly faces and help everywhere you turn

Friendly faces and help everywhere you turn

Security at a premium  

Security at a premium  

Team Dietzen makes their way to the stadium, we barely get through security because Team Dietzen's, husband brought his bug repellent, then I look down and notice I (Team Dietzen's mother) have my wrist band on that holds my portable canister of mace...that little canister of mace has given more confidence, I mean to tell you, I may as well be toting an AK47.  I don't want to give this up...so I just leave it on my wrist and take my chances.  The first security guard (none of which speak a speck of English) looks at my wrist and motions for me to confirm while shaking his head that he thinks  that is some kind of inhaler-I just nod sort of in agreement, I know...shame on me but I really don't want to give it up folks---it's been deterring criminals left and right!  In the meantime, I am setting all the sirens off in the metal scanner,  so I have to remove my bracelet, my pin, and yes my canister and place them in the bin...so now the rest of security is curious about my wrist band canister, they begin inspecting it, they pick it up, turn it over, meanwhile I am not taking my eyes off it for what I dreaded might come next---they flip the top up and...I put my hand up and use every universal body gesture I know to say "no!" They look at me, puzzled while I am saying pepper spray! pepper spray!...they call an interpreter over and I explain to her what it is and she tells me it cannot come with me in the stadium that I have to throw it away! So, I make my way over to the garbage can and dispose of my "AK47"

Brasil! Thank you for the atmosphere! 

Brasil! Thank you for the atmosphere! 

Inside the Maracana'zinho Arena (side note-it holds 11,000 and the name of this arena means little version to the main arena, Maracana) we meet up with our Team USA section and all the parents and family members are in their Olympic garb! The arena is just beautiful, Brazilians love their volleyball and this arena's atmosphere is a testament of it-well the best way to compare it would be an American NBA stadium atmosphere. The excitement is building! 

So Exciting!  

So Exciting!  

We catch up with the parents that just arrived and here we are-ready to cheer on the USA!

#15 Kimberly Hill

#15 Kimberly Hill

#23 Kelsey Robinson 

#23 Kelsey Robinson 

#1 Alisha Glass

#1 Alisha Glass

#3 Courtney Thompson  

#3 Courtney Thompson  

#2 Kayla Banworth

#2 Kayla Banworth

The Hannah's

The Hannah's

#13 Christa Dietzen

#13 Christa Dietzen

 Let's get ready to rumble!

We have a winner...USA! Great  

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 I am so overwhelmed by the support from the folks back home-sharing pics and posts and cheering on Team USA Women's Volleyball-I am truly blessed to have all of you to share this with Thank you

~Connie