October brings a new adventure

So it's been quite a while since I wrote (my apologies).  I think I will start by recapping the final months of another wonderful summer with USA Volleyball.  Although we didn't finish the way we wanted in the final week of Gran Prix,  I felt like our team grew in many areas and were challenged significantly.  5 weeks on the road with the same group in foreign countries certainly poses its challenges.  However, as stated in my previous blog posts, we had the opportunity to enjoy some activities and connect with the community and do things outside of our normal routine

 A week and a half after returning to the US we found ourselves competing for the NORCECA Continental Championship held in Omaha, Nebraska.  It was the first time the US Women have hosted an international event in four years.   I would like to just point out how wonderful of a job the city of Omaha and USA Volleyball did at hosting the tournament. I thought the event was well organized, the facilities and amenities proved that we can host quality events, and it was so much fun to finally be on the side of the "Husker" fans! We finished first in that tournament and have qualified to compete in Grand Champions Cup November 12-17 in Japan.  The team will all meet in Tokyo a week prior to the tournament (November 5) to train with the Japanese National Team. 

Before November arrives, I have to catch you up on the new adventure the month of October has brought me.

For those of you who are not aware of how the International Volleyball world works...Once the National Team season ends each fall, my teammates and I compete for professional teams for 6-8 (October-May) months all across the globe...This year I've landed in Istanbul, Turkey where I will compete for the Eczacibasi Tigers.  

The past three years of my professional career, I've played for a club in Modena, Italy.  I was comfortable with the Italian lifestyle and had developed a sense of community there.  Modena became another "home" for me.  I will write more on my love for Modena in a later blog post.  Moving to a new place and starting a new "life" can be scary at first.  The unknown is always a challenge, but I can only begin to describe what a wonderful transition it has been thus far.  The Eczacibasi club is fantastic from the staff to the players.  They are well organized and managed and I can understand why they are one of the top volleyball clubs in the world.   I am fortunate to begin my life in the small town of Gokturk.  I find myself about 20 minutes from downtown and have all the essentials here in Gokturk.  I'm a "country" girl at heart, so little Gokturk suits me just fine.  There is a great deal of green landscape in this neck of the woods, which makes it feel more like home in Pennsylvania.  The road I travel to and from work everyday is like a windy back country road..but instead of pot holes ever 1/4 mile, there are speed bumps.  Instead of worrying about deer you have to worry about goats.  I wonder if goats take out trucks like deer do.  

My team will compete in the Turkish League and Champions League this year. Champions League is a European League where the top teams from each countries league compete to see who is the best in Europe.  You can find an updated schedule on my Home Page.  I will also try and update when our matches will be streamed live on the internet (check Twitter as well).     

Before I close I would like to share some thoughts...

 I've had a few moments recently where I realize how blessed I am to play this fantastic sport for a living, and the doors it has opened to interact with such special human beings. Gary Chapman says that "Life's deepest meaning is not found in accomplishments but in relationships." My US teammates and I spend 6 days a week between the months of May and October working together towards a common goal...I've enjoyed not only competing and representing our country with them, but embracing the opportunity to build relationships by doing life with them.  Playing abroad, I meet and interact with girls from all over the globe, literally.  Last week there were six different languages spoken at practice.  English, Turkish, Chinese, German, Italian, and Croatian.  What? How cool is that.  Volleyball is just the commonality that brings on opportunities, but the relationships and experiences that stem from those opportunities...those will have the most meaning in my life.

Until the next time...