Phone: (850) 384-2847
May 9, 2005
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
We left for Europe today starting at 2:30 we had to be at the airport for our flight that left for Memphis at 4:30, which was about a 1:30 flight.This is where we met CJ Sherman, she used to coach in our conference at the University of Montevallo, now she works for BIP. From Memphis we then flew to Amsterdam, which was an overnight flight and it was PACKED! We sat with 9 people to a row, and there were three different cabins in the plane and there was hardly any seats empty. The movie that they had was National Treasure, and there were two meals on the plane, but still the flight was realy long- over 8 hours straight. When we finally got to Amsterdam, it was 5:30 in the morning Florida Time, but about mid-day Europe time. Our flight then was delayed a couple of times, and we had to switch gates about 5 times and Kali didnt have her ticket for the next flight- so that sent some people worring, but it all turned out alright; we were on the plane headed for Prague in no time. The flight this time was only about 1:30 and all of us were praying for sleep, knowing that this was going to be the last chance for any shut-eye after we got into Prague. When we finally did touch down, we were met by our Czech tour guide Jirka Honzik; also the National Team Coach Stanislav Mitac. They drove us by van to the hotel. I was snapping pictures like crazy, everyone else was just hungry and tired we went to the hotel and then off to practice we went. The gym is supposed to be the nicest gym in Prague, with suspened rubber floors- which help the knees a ton!- and then only one court and stands all the way around. We practiced for two hours, and with not touching the ball in about two weeks due to finals, and then the flight over to Europe coach told us all that she was surprised how well we held up. After practice we showered and were off to the best Pizza and Pasta resturant in town! We just inhaled everything that was set in front of us! The place was underground, and by candlelight we just ate everything in sight. After stuffing ourselves of like 5 pizzas and 4 plates of pasta, we then we ready to just go to bed. We took the trolly to the hotel for a good nights sleep, ready to check out the castle and the city the next morning!
Today was our first day of sightseeing. We went to the famous Prague castle where the Presidents office is. We went to a cathedral in the castle and saw stained glass and then walked up 287 steps to the top of the clock tower in the cathedral to see beautiful sights!!! Oh and not just 287 steps.. 287 spiral steps!! After our tour we headed to lunch at Subway, it tasted the same as in the US. Then we got to go shop for souvenirs and walk around by ourselves exploring the city. The old town was magnicent and the buildings are so unique and old. After that we came back to the hotel, rested for an hour and then went to the gym to play our first international match against Olymp Praha. We won 3 out of the 5, we won the match!! The scores were 29-31, 25-14, 25-23, 24-26, 15-10. Overall we played pretty good for not practicing for two weeks, walking around the city, and traveling the day before. The volleyball here is good, the girls were great leapers and could jump server really well. The offense was not too quick however, they had some really good hitters. Im very excited for the rest of the trip and our second international match tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!
Today we were all
on our own, we took the tram into Vaclav Square, the main area in new
town Prague. We decided to leave the hotel at 10:00 a.m., so we got
to sleep in...YAY!! Everyone had a great time shopping, and we bought
a lot of stuff. The stores sell native curios, like Babu_ka stacking
dolls, crystal and beer mugs and of course T-shirts. The best part was
that everyone ate at McDonalds for lunch. The McDonalds had leather
seats, it had two stories dining area and pillars. The mall strip had
tons of stores, and they were all playing American music, that was pretty
cool. After all day, we had to get back to the hotel by 2:00 p.m. and
leave for our match at 4:00 p.m. We traveled to the gym, changed, and
warmed up. This gym was really nice and much larger than the first gym
we played at. The floor was wooden and suspended so it was nice for
jumping. The team was very well-rounded and they were in-system much
more than we were. They jump served very well, hit smart and hard and
passed great balls. They beat us the first three games, but the highlight
was that we won the last game beating them 16-14. Since we beat them,
their coach decided that they would now have 3 training conditioning
sessions this next week instead of just two. After the match we showered
and ate at a pub right by the gym, and the food was great. We had chicken
and pasta in a cheese sauce, our other choice pasta and veggies in a
garlic sauce. When we got back to the hotel, some people stayed home
and others went out to see Prague at night.
Editors Note: The Coaches, Jirka, Oldige, CJ and a few girls decided to take in the view of the city at night. Seeing the Prague Castle, Clock Tower and Charles Bridge is amazing. This city has such tremendous history. The group enjoyed listening to stories told by our Czech Guides.
Campo Largo, Brazil
Day 4: Prague-Brno
we left Prague after breakfast to go to Brno, the second major city
in the Czech Republic. Jirka, our tour guide in this country kept us
busy during the 2-hour drive with 3 riddles. If you are curious just
ask one of us!
The first thing we did when we got there was play. We didnt play very well. But we beat the team! The Team we played was Brnos best U20 team. They won the Czech Championships. It ended up being an easy win for us because the other teams setter rolled her ankle during the second game, so they had to rely on their libero to set their offense. We felt really bad for the team because they were preparing for a tournament and lost their only setter. After that we had lunch at the hotel and went to explore the city. Brno is very beautiful! We went to see the mummies in the Krypt Capachin---uuhh that was a little scary, but very exciting. There was also mummy of an eleven-year-old girl. It was unbelievable that we were breathing the same air as these historical pieces. Then, we walked around downtown and rode back to the hotel where we rested for about 2 hours.
At night we watched a womens volleyball match at the Spring Cup. It was an easy victory of Turkey over Denmark and it was neat to see how different the game is in other countries. The teams jump serve very tough, and most are good athletic jumpers. After the match we went back to the hotel and made Thank You cards for Jirka and his bother, Tomas, because their portion of the tour was over and we wanted to thank them for showing us such a good time and for taking care of us. We put the thank you posters on their hotel room door and signed the back of a UWF volleyball t-shirt for Jirka. After another great day we went to bed so we could rest and be fresh to continue our European journey.
Layla Hamilton, Cocoa, Fl.
Today we woke up packed and ate breakfast. A normal breakfast in Europe consists of cold cuts, bread and juice or coffee. We got on the road at 9:00 am to Vienna. It was about a two-hour trip. There we were able to walk around and see many interesting buildings, such as the old Austrian royal castle. CJ knew a lot about Vienna and taught us many neat facts about the area. We visited several churches and saw old ruins from the Roman Empire. Austria is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the invasion Germany invaded and took over Austria in 1939. They have commemorative historical monuments and even the place where Hitler made his famous speech. After we walked around and shopped, we were on the famous Maria-Hilfa Stasse shopping area; we got back on the bus to drive to Maribor. We went right to the hotel and ate dinner. It was very good and the hotel here is so cute. The windows in the hotel rooms faced the mountain that we were at the bottom of. Later that night we walked over to the neighboring hotel to swim in their pools because our hotel gives everyone a pass to go use the other facilities once. We had a lot of fun swimming and joking around. We even learned it is a RULE to go in the sauna naked!! We all thought that was interesting. After we got back everyone just went to sleep because we were all tired from the driving. Maribor, Slovenia seems like it will be a neat town. We are excited about our tour guide, Brook Coulter. She used to play volleyball at Cal Berkeley, now she plays professionally in Slovenia.
Lauren Burke, Sarasota, Florida
Today was a really fun day. It was our first full day to spend in Maribor and we had a great time. After breakfast, we hiked up a huge mountain that was right behind our hotel. We were told the night before that we were going to do a ropes course halfway up the mountain which would be a good team bonding experience. So once we reached the middle of the mountain, we caught our breath for a little bit and then started the course. A lot of us were really nervous because we were scared of heights and this was something that we had never done before. After we all got into our harnesses, we split into two groups of five. The first group started the actual course and the second group which I was in started with the climbing pole. You had to use pegs to climb your way to the top, then manage to stand up on a very tiny space at the top of the pole, turn around, and jump off! This pole was extremely high, at least that is how it seemed once you reached the top. For me personally, that was the scariest obstacle of the whole course because it felt like I was going to fall off. It was a good experience to try. After our group did that, we did the next obstacle which was basically a giant swing. It was SOOO fun!! You sat in your harness as the other people ran with a rope to raise you higher into the air, then you pulled a string and went flying! It was so pretty because we had a great view of the city down below us. Finally after that, our group started the actual course that had a bunch of different obstacles connected on a platform that was probably about 3 stories high. The first obstacle was a very shaky wooden bridge that you had to walk across only holding on to a rope in front of you. The next was a jump between two platforms with a huge space in the middle which looked a lot bigger when you were actually up there. It took me about 15 minutes to actually jump across, haha! It was so scary. After a few more obstacles, Layla and I, were partners, decided not to do the last few because we were scared out of our mind up there!! Nicole was the only one in our group to finish the whole course, so good job, Nicole! Haha! After we were done with that course, we rode in Buddys Land Rover to the top of the mountain for lunch. On the way up, it started snowing! It was so pretty, but we were all freezing. Lunch was really good and when we were done, we rode back down to the start of the mountain and went back to our hotel to rest for an hour before our match. It was a pretty big match, because the team we played, Club Valsped, had never played an American team before. We were all pretty exhausted from the hike and ropes course, but we gave a good effort during the whole match. There was a good sized crowd and we ended up losing in 3 close sets. We played an extra 4th set and won! After the match we went out to dinner with the other team which was fun even though they didnt speak much English. After dinner we were all ready for bed, went back to the hotel and crashed. It was a very busy day but a lot of fun!
Marcela Cunha, Curitiba, Brazil
Today, we were allowed to sleep in for a little bit, which was good after a busy day like yesterday. After breakfast at the hotel, we went to downtown Maribor. It is a very pretty city. We did some shopping and had a tour of a wine cellar. The tour was pretty interesting. We learned the different types of barrels the wines can be stored in and some of the different types of wines. At the end of the tour we had the chance to have a wine tasting. We were also able to buy a few souvenirs. In the evening, we played one more match against a couple players that Brooke, our guide, played with and a couple juniors players. The game was a close one, but at the end we won in 5. At night, we went to a Cuban where the food was awesome. After another busy day, we went to the downtown. Unfortunately, because today is Monday, practically everything was closed early. Anyways, we had a good time and are ready for another great day.
Nicole Lepetsos, Littleton, Colorado
We woke up early in Maribor to get started on the road once again. This time, our bus headed to Ljubljana, the capital city of Slovenia. After a couple hours of seeing beautiful countryside and napping, we arrived to a cold, foggy Ljubljana. We whipped out umbrellas and layers of sweatshirts and jackets as we walked around the city. This city was overtaken by Mussolini in 1943. No one was allowed in or out of the city walls, as there were land mines surrounding the city. After some warm food and a little bit of shopping, we got back on the bus to thaw out and head to the next city. We stopped at the beautiful coastal town of Isola. The white buildings with red-orange roofs and the bright blue Adriatic Sea (not Arabian, LeahJ) looked like it came straight from a fairytale. The weather was a little gloomy and we hoped for better tomorrow. Arriving at the hotel around mid-afternoon gave us some well needed time to rest before dinner. The dinner at the hotel was an all-you-can-eat buffet (words we all love). After eating, we were given the choice to go walk around town at night or stay in at the hotel. Jenny, Carly, Jess, Kali, Marcella, and I decided we had been resting long enough and were ready to explore. We joined the coaches and CJ for a night on the town. We took the city us, the ONLY city bus, down to the town and marina. It was quiet, but absolutely gorgeous! Isola reminds me of Pirates of the Caribbean, but without any pirates. We walked along the water and stopped at a playground to pose for a ton of crazy pictures. Then we made friends with the owner of one of the many ice cream shops and all filled up on the delicious dessert. Coach, Leah and CJ then left to meet some people and the rest of us waited for the bus ride home. Although we waited for an hour at the bus stop, we found ways to entertain ourselves! We all started singing any song that we could think of and laughed as Carly danced to them. Think Broadway meets Mr. Bean (you probably had to be there..). We sang everything from Backstreet Boys and Frank Sinatra to Three Doors Down and Spice Girls at the top of our lungs. We got a lot of funny looks from people passing in their Bubble cars, as Jenny calls them. Finally the bus came and took us back to the hotel. We werent quite ready to stop singing and dancing so we stood outside the hotel and serenaded the other girls that had stayed. We had a lot of laughs tonight and overall it was another great day. Lets pray for good weather these last couple days!
Jenny Lass, Florida
small town that lies along the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The view from
the hotel Belvedere, which is where we are staying, is picture perfect.
The white buildings with orange roofs, the sailboats docked along the
coastline, and the crystal clear water all create this beautiful scene.
I never knew the beauty of Slovenia until I saw it for myself.
the plan was to tour Isola and to play a match in Koper. This morning
we took a bus from our hotel into the town. The first thing that team
did was, of course, shop. We shopped at a market located by the sea.
Not only did the market have handmade souvenirs such as photo albums,
purses, and flip flops, but the vendors were selling great knock off
brands such as Prada and Louis Vuitton.
then ate at one of the cute cafes along the sea. We had ordered pizza
and gnocchi. I think that I have eaten more pizza in these past few
days in Europe than in one year in the US. But the pizza and gnocchi
were delicious. I dont understand why Europeans are all so skinny
because there ice cream shops here are about as common as McDonalds
in America. Maybe it is a new fad diet.
in the day, we played our match in Koper, a small town just outside
of Isola. This was the last game of our European tour. We lost in 3
sets. Our record for the tour is 3-3. As a team, we have learned a lot
about ourselves as individuals and as a whole. The team went through
ups and downs and we learned our strengths and weaknesses throughout
the tour. The experience has only made our team stronger as a group
and each individual is closer to reaching her fullest potential as a
We were extremely tired so we decided to entertain ourselves in the hotel. The team, which included the coaching staff, had skit night. We were placed in group of 3-4 people and each group created a skit based on the events of the trip. I must say that we imitate each other quite well. Coach, Leah and CJ recreated one of our memories in Vienna, Austria. When we were in Vienna, we had to use the restroom. Coach played the role of the bathroom attendant, Leah was coach, and CJ was Leah. I think they won the gold medal for skit night.
Since it was one of our last nights with CJ, we wanted to thank her and show her our appreciation for everything she has done for us. So, we made a song for her. We changed the lyrics to songs such as Hey Jude and Unforgettable to make this award a winning masterpiece. Of course, Coach and Leah felt left out so we wrote a song for them; however, their song was more along the lines of an army song or Sound Off song. I think they liked it when we mentioned some of their favorite phrases such as, touch six, passing series, and cushion. What about us? Didnt we deserve a song to be written in honor of us? Of course we did. Coach and Leah wrote a song. It was okay, but I do think that we are the better composers.
Jessica Bragion, Brazil
have finally reached our last day in Europe! It had been wonderful and
I am sure that none of us will ever be able to forget this great experience.
For our grand finale our last stop is Venice, Italy. There
is a lot of people and boat traffic. It is very interesting
to realize that this city was built above water!
arrived around 12 pm and after some trouble with the hotel people about
our bus parking spot, we left to explore Venezia.
The bus dropped us off by the Pizzale Roma and from there we took a
water taxi through the Grand Canal to the Piazza de San Marco. It is
beautiful!! There were lots of birds around and you can feed them. Some
of us tried to feed them, but it is quite scary. It reminded me of the
movie The Birds. It was funny to see other people screaming
like us when feeding them.
of the time was spent shopping and taking in the amazing sights. Venice
is the most touristy place that we have been. I have never been to so
many souvenir stores. People also sell the knock off purses around the
street illegally and you can bargain its price from 75 Euros down to
20 Euros. One of the guys ran after Kali and would take any money that
she was willing to pay for a purse. If the police come, the illegal
vendors run away to hide their goods. We had lunch on our own and you
can find pretty cheap sandwiches around town as long as you dont
sit down, otherwise you are charge for a waiting service.
lunch, we met at the Per Rialto Bridge. It is either the biggest or
oldest bridge in Venice, I cant remember. It is gorgeous! Our
assistant coach, Leah, got lost and we were kind of worried about her
being out by herself, but she always finds a ways to get back with the
group. From there, we walked back to our starting point and had our
last dinner together in Europe by the water. It was a beautiful sunset
and a wonderful meal.
Venice is beautiful and I was pretty amazed to see that the water is not as dirty as I thought that it would be. The location was perfect to end our European Journey, as Kali calls it. We will never be able to forget these awesome moments we had in Europe.